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Cloud Migration Risks & Benefits

If you’re like most businesses, you already have at least one workload running in the cloud. However, that doesn’t mean that cloud migration is right for everyone. While cloud environments are generally scalable, reliable, and highly available, those won’t be the only considerations driving your decision.

For companies considering their first cloud migration, there are a lot of factors that you’ll want to take into account — from the benefits and the risks to the cloud service model and type that is right for your business. In this article, we’ll look at the high-level elements that you should consider as you contemplate a move to the cloud.

To learning everything about cloud migration — from the fundamentals to advanced — Cloud Academy has a Cloud Migration Training Library that helps you learn migration best practices, test your knowledge, and build the skills you need to successfully migrate your business to the cloud.

Potential benefits of cloud migration

There are many problems that moving to the cloud can solve. Here are some typical scenarios that will benefit from cloud migration.

    • Your application is experiencing increased traffic and it’s becoming difficult to scale resources on the fly to meet the increasing demand.
    • You need to reduce operational costs while increasing the effectiveness of IT processes.
    • Your clients require fast application implementation and deployment and thus want to focus more on development while reducing infrastructure overhead.
    • Your clients want to expand their business geographically, but you suspect that setting up a multi-region infrastructure – with all the associated maintenance, time, human, and error control effort – is going to be a challenge.
    • It’s becoming more difficult and expensive to keep up with your growing storage needs.
    • You’d like to build a widely distributed development team. Cloud computing environments allow remotely located employees to access applications and work via the internet.
    • You need to establish a disaster recovery system but setting it up for an entire data center could double the cost. It would also require a complex disaster recovery plan. Cloud disaster recovery systems can be implemented much more quickly and give you much better control over your resources.
    • Tracking and upgrading underlying server software is a time consuming, yet an essential process that requires periodic and sometimes immediate upgrades. In some cases, a cloud provider will take care of this automatically. Some cloud computing models similarly handle many administrative tasks such as database backup, software upgrades, and periodic maintenance.
    • Capex to Opex: Cloud computing shifts IT expenditure to a pay-as-you-go model, which is an attractive benefit, especially for startups.

Potential risks of cloud migration

While your specific environment will determine the risks that apply to you, there are some general drawbacks associated with cloud migrations that you will want to consider.

    • If your application stores and retrieves very sensitive data, you might not be able to maintain it in the cloud. Similarly, compliance requirements could also limit your choices.
    • If your existing setup is meeting your needs, doesn’t demand much maintenance, scaling, and availability, and your customers are all happy, why mess with it?
    • If some of the technology you currently rely on is proprietary, you may not be legally able to deploy it to the cloud.
    • Some operations might suffer from added latency when using cloud applications over the internet.
    • If your hardware is controlled by someone else, you might lose some transparency and control when debugging performance issues.
    • Noisy “neighbors” can occasionally make themselves “heard” through shared resources.
    • Your particular application design and architecture might not completely follow distributed cloud architectures, and therefore may require some amount of modification before moving them to the cloud.
    • Cloud platform or vendor lock-in: Once in, it might be difficult to leave or move between platforms.
    • Downtime. It happens to everyone, but you might not want to feel like your availability is controlled by someone else.

What cloud service model do you need?

Now that you’ve decided to try the cloud, you’ll have to choose the cloud computing service model that you would like to deploy it in. These are the most common service models:

    • IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service (e.g. AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Alibaba Cloud).
    • PaaS: Platform as a Service (e.g. AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Heroku, Google App Engine, Engine Yard).
    • SaaS: Software as a Service (e.g. Google G Suite, Office 365, Salesforce, NetSuite).

Here’s where you’ll have to make an important choice.

IaaS is best for companies that don’t mind hosting their applications in third-party data centers but instead would prefer to outsource the care of their physical infrastructure to concentrate more completely on developing, deployment, and monitoring.

However, if you prefer your applications to be portable, you might want to simply drop your code onto a robust PaaS platform that provides a full (and invisible) infrastructure environment. Adopting a PaaS solution will also reduce your ready to market timings – since PaaS will be preloaded with most of the runtime required software – you only need to deploy the upper most layer of your application, in some cases just the application binaries.

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