There are a number of models for moving existing applications to the cloud. A "lift and shift" that is the quickest involves moving current applications without redesign. Rearchitecting takes time but offers more benefits.
What is it?
At its simplest, cloud migration is the process of moving applications from legacy data centers to cloud providers. But there are a number of ways to do this, each with its own cost-benefit profile.
One form of cloud migration is ‘lift and shift’. Here, you use technologies such as containers and virtualization to wrap your existing applications so that they can be easily ported to the cloud. This approach does nothing to optimize your applications to run in the cloud and may limit your ability to exploit benefitslike scalability, elasticity and self-serve infrastructure. It may even result in you spending more to run your applications.
At the other end of the scale is rearchitecting your applications so that they become cloud native. Typically, this involves taking a piecemeal approach to redesign your large business applications. It can be a long process but leaves you better placed to exploit cloud’s potential.
What’s in for you?
The benefits of cloud migration depend on the approach you take. If you simply lift and shift applications, you may be able to reduce your capital expenditure through eliminating your need for data center infrastructure. Other benefits may be harder to realize.
If you fully embrace cloud native architecture, you’ll benefit in the long term by being able to exploit cloud’s potential. That means you’ll pay for the computing resources you need at any given time; you’ll also be able to scale up and down as your business demand fluctuates.
In many cases, some companies may start off with a lift-and-shift approach before evolving to a cloud-native architecture over time.
What are the trade offs?
Some companies have been disappointed by their cloud migrations: either because they didn’t deliver the anticipated savings (a common problem with a lift and shift approach); others may not have realized how long it would take to complete their journey.
In some cases, organizations may lack the necessary skills or knowledge to migrate legacy applications to the cloud. For instance, if you have legacy systems that were written decades ago, it can be hard to find people skilled in those languages, and as a result the task of decomposing them is much harder.
How is it being used?
Cloud migration is a core element of enterprise modernization. A sizable proportion of businesses today already take a cloud-first approach, where any new application would be hosted in the cloud by default. Given the flexibility, scalability and risk reduction possible with cloud, it’s unsurprising that many organizations are looking to move legacy applications to the cloud.