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POSTED ON: October 21, 2020

Application Migration Services

What is Application Migration?

Application migration may be defined as the process of moving a software application from one computing environment to the other. For example, you may migrate an application from one data center to the other, from the public cloud to a private cloud environment, or from an on-premises server to the environment of a cloud service provider.

As applications are typically built to run on specific operating systems in specific network architectures or developed for a single cloud platform, moving an application to a new environment can be quite challenging. In an application migration approach, it is generally easier to migrate applications from service-based or virtualized architectures than to migrate those that run on bare metal hardware.

Application Migration Strategies – The 5Rs

As you determine an overall application migration strategy, you need to consider the dependencies of and technical requirements of each individual application. Besides that, the security, compliances, and cost constraints of your enterprise are also worth considering. Remember different applications can take varied paths to the cloud, within the same technology environment too. Developers have always referred to such application migration patterns with names that start with the letter “R.”

Rehost: Also known as lift-and-shift, rehosting is a common strategy wherein the business enterprise moves the application from an on-premises server to a virtual machine in the cloud. During this transition, no significant changes are made. As compared to other migration strategies, rehosting applications is generally faster and may minimize migration costs to a great extent.

Refactor: Refactoring implies making quite significant changes to the application, so that it can scale or perform effectively in a cloud environment. It might include recoding key portions of the application so that it can benefit from cloud native functionalities, like restructuring a monolithic application into a set of microservices or modernizing the data store from SQL to NoSQL.

Revise or Replatform: A type of middle ground between lift-and-shift and re-architecting, revising an application includes making small changes to it, so that it can better benefit from cloud architecture. Examples might comprise of upgrading the application so that it can work with a cloud native managed database, containerizing the application, or changing the operating systems or middleware it will work with.

Rebuild: Rebuilding implies discarding legacy applications and developing them again using cloud features and services. Being a PaaS-based solution, rebuild needs good familiarity with current application and business processes, including cloud services. Benefits of rebuilding comprise of cost savings due to pay-as-you-go model, modernization of applications, and enhanced developer’s productivity.

Replace/Retire: It is the most sensible to decommission the application in a few cases. This might be because the value of the application is limited, the application’s capabilities are redundant elsewhere in your environment, or it’s highly cost effective to replace the application with a new offering, often a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform, rather than migrating it.

Application Migration Steps

The application migration planning process may be divided into three steps. In each of the three steps, it is crucial to weigh the costs of all potential choices, and this includes choosing to retain a few on-premises workloads.

Step #1

Application Identification and Assessment

This is the initial discovery phase, and, in this step, you should begin by assuring you have a comprehensive catalog of all applications within your portfolio. You should then categorize the applications, based on if they have non-critical or business-critical significance, whether their value is non-strategic or strategic, and what you stand to from migrating each application to the cloud.

Understand the value of each application in terms of these features:

  1. Effect on the business
  2. Ability to meet critical business needs
  3. Timeliness and relevance of data
  4. Cost of maintenance and development
  5. Size, complexity, and manageability
  6. Increased value from cloud migration

You should then conduct a cloud affinity assessment for each application that you wish to migrate. During legacy application migration, determine which applications are ready to go as-is and which would demand significant changes before they could be made ready for the cloud. It is a safe practice to employ application dependency discovery tools to help you ascertain the feasibility of migrating a specific workload outside its current environment.

Step #2

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Assessment

It is a complex task to ascertain the total cost of a cloud migration project. Compare “what-if” scenarios to keep applications and infrastructure on-premises with those related to transitioning them to the cloud. This implies you must calculate buying, operating, and maintenance costs for the hardware you would maintain on-premises in either situation as well as the costs of licensing software. Besides, you should compare the monthly bill you would receive from the cloud provider in either scenario and the costs of the migration itself, inclusive of the costs of testing the new infrastructure and training employees to use updated software. Remember considering maintenance costs for legacy applications that stay on-premises.

Step #3

Overall Risk and Project Duration Assessment

In the last phase of application migration planning, set up a timeline for the project and detect any pitfalls or risks that you may specifically come across.

Application Migration Best Practices

Companies should follow these best practices to help ensure a successful application migration:

Conduct an assessment: The base of any application migration project is an assessment of an enterprise’s application portfolio. This application portfolio comprises of any legacy applications or systems, and an understanding of the ecosystem that surrounds these applications. This ecosystem includes the configurations of the physical and virtual servers, current support and data dependencies, network topology, and security and compliance.

Involve the business faster: You should guarantee that all the relevant business units participate in planning the migration and know how this migration might affect them as well as current business processes. Clear communication is key here.

Develop a cloud governance framework: Your cloud governance framework should involve clear, policy-based rules to help an organization get ready for a secure cloud adoption, comprising of roles, structures, objectives, plans, and a decision framework.

Draw a migration strategy: Figure out the business reasons and use cases for application migration to the cloud. As an organization, you should decide whether to migrate in stages or begin with the least business-critical workloads to gain experience and later move to mission-critical applications.

Manage software licensing in a proper manner: It is necessary to document all enterprise applications. If required, check with vendors to ascertain if current licenses can be updated to use applications in the cloud.

Train staff quickly: Set up a series of training sessions for employees across different business units and teams to speed up on cloud concepts.

Automate: Organizations should automate repeated patterns where possible with the aim of improving migration’s overall efficiency and minimizing disruption to the business. Doing so not only accelerates the migration process, but also lowers risk and saves money. Note the phased cloud migration approach and automation can work at the same time, i.e. detect repeated patterns over time that can be automated in migration phases in the future.

Test, test, and re-test: An enterprise should have a proper test plan in place for a successful legacy application migration. It’s a safe practice to talk about testing on the first day of the assessment.

Bring in third-party tools and experts from outside to supplement in-house capabilities: Hiring application migration services from application migration consulting companies helps you a big deal, as migrating apps is a complex process. When not executed effectively, application migration may lead to data loss and costly errors. Your enterprise will be adequately prepared, if you invest in additional tools and expertise.

Application Migration Tools

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Migration Program: Amazon provides for many cloud migration services. These services comprise of the AWS Database Migration Service, the AWS Migration Hub, and the AWS Server Migration Service. Most of these services are free-of-cost for AWS customers.

Azure Migration Program: Microsoft provides enterprises with free Azure migration tools, including Azure Migrate, to evaluate and migrate workloads, and free Azure Cost Management to optimize costs with the objective of helping organizations move to their Azure public cloud computing platform. Microsoft never supports any other cloud vendors.

Challenges of Application Migration

Though there are many benefits of application migration to the cloud, there are a few challenges that organizations face. These include:

Not Having a Well-Defined Strategy: Enterprises need an end-to-end migration plan without any shortcuts for successful cloud adoption and implementation. A one-size-fits-all strategy won’t work with some data centers and applications being more difficult to migrate as compared to others.

Failure to Calculate Costs Properly: Enterprises should accurately evaluate the costs of their migrations and operations in advance to save money. A few things that organizations should consider are capital and operational expenditures as well as migration costs.

Gap in Talent and Skills: One of the key challenges to moving applications to the cloud is finding people with the requisite skills to manage a migration effectively. Organizations that lack resources to hire cloud migration talent should cultivate these skills internally or look for vendors with dedicated people to support successful migration. Such dedicated people also help train employees of your organization in the requisite cloud skills.

Lack of Security and Compliance: As you move to the cloud, ensure the data you move to the cloud is secure. At the same time, you need to be sure you comply with all the relevant government and industry regulations.

Benefits of Application Migration

Migrating existing applications, when integrated with a bigger digital strategy, delivers key benefits in two areas – IT infrastructure and business digitization.

Better IT Infrastructure

As compared to legacy application platforms, cloud infrastructure offers several technology benefits.

Reduced Cost – Owing to the efficiency of public cloud offerings, like Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon’s AWS, running applications in the cloud is more affordable than doing the same on legacy platforms. Cloud hardware and software are less expensive, bursting is highly economical, resource utilization is optimum, and community driven tools enable application management with a few resources.

Scalability and Performance – Due to the foundational architecture of shared and unified resources, cloud platforms are intrinsically built to scale fast and tackle varied workloads at high performance. Besides, cloud orchestration tools may help automatically scale cloud infrastructure, so that changes in application demand can be handled well.

Enhanced Speed – It is faster to deploy infrastructure resources and application releases within cloud environments. As compared to legacy IT platforms, cloud-based systems can be provisioned in a few minutes and partitioned into microservices. These microservices are not only independent of bigger, cumbersome release cycles, but are also faster to deploy.

Greater Flexibility in Deployment – Cloud-based applications are the most suitable for businesses with variable or growing demands. Elastic cloud platforms are used on a regular basis for large amounts of data analysis and spiking applications that need compute bursts at the time of unpredictable or cyclical demand.

Faster Business Digitization

Migrating critical business applications to the cloud, near native cloud applications, speeds up the digitization of business into products, operations, services, employee workplace, and customer experience. Faster business digitization leads to:

Customer Reach – Migrating applications to the cloud opens up avenues to integrate with mobile as well as social platforms to reach a greater number of customers, through new channels, while building customer intimacy at lower costs.

Time-to-Market: Faster application release cycles implies faster delivery of new services. When compared to legacy IT platforms that limit application releases to only a few times every year, cloud and DevOps software delivery just permit for a few times a day. The speed can be the difference between gaining or losing market share.

Business Agility and Innovation: Cloud platforms lend more agility to developers to innovate in smaller groups and trial disruptive ideas without relying on the infrastructure team and legacy IT systems, as well as involving less risk and cost. In a cloud sandbox, developers can provision resources faster, build code, integrate technologies through standard APIs, and scale their testing as and when needed.

To learn more on application migration, don’t forget to download this free eBook.

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