Enterprise Bulletin – 1Q 2021

Scicom Infrastructure Services

Enterprise Bulletin 1Q 2021

Written By:
Sanjay Jain
Country Manager, India
Scicom Infrastructure Services, Inc.

AWS Cloud Migration – Strategy, Approach and Challenges

The cloud enables organizations to effectively balance agility, innovation, continuity, scale at volume with reduced costs and security risk. Public cloud services have been the one bright spot in IT spending in 2020, according to Gartner. The firm is predicting that IT spending on public cloud will only continue to increase this year.

Despite a few hiccups early in the pandemic (such as network capacity, bandwidth limitations, right tools and technologies) cloud proved its value, delivering for organizations by responding to increased demand and preference for elastic, pay-as-you-go consumption models, the firm said.

As companies accelerated cloud migrations and rushed out new apps to meet fast-changing consumer demands, Forrester is predicting that the global public cloud infrastructure market will grow 35% to $120 billion in 2021.
The pandemic demonstrated that cloud is not an option any longer,” said Nicola Morini Bianzino, global CTO at EY. Without a cloud backbone, Morini Bianzino, said, organizations cannot achieve:

  • Speed of development and deployment
  • Tech debt reduction
  • Alignment of technology strategy with mega-ecosystem players
  • Democratization of software development — low code/no code
  • Collaboration among internal and external stakeholders

Harnessing the true potential of the cloud requires a new IT operating model. Migrating enterprise workloads to the cloud is the first step. But a rushed migration without a clear strategy can end up costing the business more, often times forcing organizations to maintain existing legacy applications whilst operating their cloud deployment- significantly driving up consumption and costs at an alarming rate.

An intelligent cloud journey must balance business drivers, technology needs and industry dynamics to achieve the right blend of scale, shape and speed for your organization’s unique needs. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Instead each will be driven by industry-specific competitive environments and individual company aspirations for cloud.

AWS Cloud Migration Phases

Organizations migrating to AWS each may follow a different approach and there are several factors that will influence how these organizations should migrate to the cloud. Working with an AWS cloud partner to manage migration to the cloud ensures the best fit for your business requirements and an approach that will be the most efficient and non-disruptive to internal processes. AWS Migration journey involves following four phases:

Phase 1: Plan
Preparing for migration and business planning is the first step. Preparation begins by considering the current state of the existing application architecture, the challenges faced by IT and business teams, and the enterprise’s business objectives. At the onset, determine which applications you need to move to the cloud that are easy to migrate, meet various cloud specific criteria for success and are least prone to failure. All the parties that may be affected by the migration to the cloud have to be involved from the beginning to make the entire migration much smoother.

Phase 2: Analyze
During this phase, a complete analysis of the current solution being used has to be accomplished. The analysis will include an overall assessment of the application requirements, infrastructure, DB dependencies and integration points with the rest of the applications. Next, evaluation of the impact on business functions that will be affected when the application is migrated should occur. Applications that are less critical and complex should be moved first so that all project members see the reliability of the process. It is highly recommended that relevant stakeholders learn about various tools AWS provides that can assist with migrations, such as Server Migration Service (SMS), Database Migration Service (DMS) and Amazon DirectConnect, and which might be relevant for your use case.

Phase 3: Build
After looking at the macro view of how the migration will affect business operations, the next step is to dive into the details with the focus on the individual application. Start with a few target applications as a Proof of Concept and see how migration strategies and tools play out in your environment. Get buy-in from stakeholders in your organization and move forward to accelerate and scale migration process.

It is important to implement key performance indicators (KPIs) for critical aspects of the system before it has been migrated and then continued tracking post migration. KPIs must measure the same before and after migration in order to validate that the migration has been successful.

Phase 4: Run
Migration is only the beginning. You need to plan how to operate your new cloud environment after the migration. It includes not only how to operate, monitor, measure, troubleshoot and backup it up- but also how to improve performance and optimize cost. As applications move to the cloud, you start operating them within AWS and decommission legacy versions running on-premises.

AWS Migration Strategies

Cloud migration strategy is your vision of how to take your applications into the cloud. A successful strategy will maximize your value from cloud infrastructure while minimizing migration time, effort, cost and risk. Gartner published the “5 Rs” model as far back as 2010, which defined all the options available to migrate a specific application to the cloud. Amazon adopted this model and extended it to 6Rs – Repurchase, Rehost, Replatform, Refactor, Retain and Retire.

Repurchase (“Drop and Shop”)
This strategy involves decommissioning the application and replacing it with a cloud-based version, typically on the AWS Marketplace. This is typically a move from a proprietary system to a SaaS platform such as moving a CRM to Salesforce.com, an HR system to Workday, a CMS to Drupal, etc. Effectively, this is a licensing change—instead of using a traditional on-premise license, you can start using the same application as a cloud service.

Pros Cons
  • Generally, a lower cost option
  • Free the IT team from common problems (patches, upgrades, etc).
  • Integrations and reconfigurations can be challenging if not planned and considered prior to migration

Rehost (“Lift and Shift”)
This strategy involves moving applications from the on-premise environment to the AWS cloud without modification. It is commonly used to migrate large-scale legacy applications to meet specific business objectives such as an accelerated product launch timeline. There are mature tools on AWS which allow you to carry it out with low effort. Most rehosting can be automated with tools (e.g. CloudEndure Migration, AWS VM Import/Export), although some customers prefer to do this manually as they learn how to apply their legacy systems to the new cloud platform.

Pros Cons
  • Rapid migration process
  • Can be highly automated and allows multiple large migrations
  • Easier to optimize and re-architect once they are already running in the cloud
  • With no changes to the application, it has limited ability to take advantage of the cloud-native environment
  • Subsequent rehosting activities can be expensive. It is important to plan within your budget to make these adjustments since not making them could cost money

Replatform (“Lift, Tinker and Shift”)
The replatform strategy involves moving applications almost as-is but replacing or optimizing some components to take advantage of the cloud without changing the core architecture of the application. Cloud optimization is done to achieve a certain goal, such as migrating to a database-as-a-service platform like Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), or migrating your application to a fully managed platform like Amazon Elastic Beanstalk.

Pros Cons
  • The benefit of being all cloud-native will immediately appear, like more availability and lower management costs
  • Even though this strategy involves small modifications or swapping of components, for production applications, you must conduct extensive testing, deploy on the cloud and then monitor for an extended period.

Refactor / Re-Architect
This strategy calls for a complete overhaul of an application to adapt it to the cloud. It is valuable when you have a strong business need for cloud-native features, such as improved development agility, scalability or performance. In many cases, it involves re-factoring monolithic architecture to a service-oriented (or server-less) architecture to boost agility or improve business continuity.

Pros Cons
  • Long-term cost reductions and high ROI as services are optimized and used optimally for the cloud
  • Involves the highest costs, the biggest effort and also the most risk of all strategies. But in reality, many if not most applications end up being refactored for the cloud, either before migration or after

AWS Migration Challenges

Successfully migrating to AWS cloud requires a lot of attention from your enterprise. If your business isn’t prepared to deal with the challenges of cloud migration, then it could be costly and dangerous for you and your data. However, knowing about these challenges and how to deal with them before you start your cloud journey will give you a big advantage.

1. Logging and Monitoring

Many organizations move to the cloud without establishing clear KPIs on how much they expect to spend or save after their migration. It is then difficult to understand if the migration was successful from an economic perspective. In addition, cloud environments are dynamic, and costs can rapidly change as you adopt new services or scale applications up and down. Monitor costs on an ongoing basis and identify deviations from the original cost model, investigate and resolve them before they turn into big surprises.

2. Data Security and Compliance

Data safety and compliance smack panic into the top management’s thoughts, and it is one of the key barriers to AWS cloud migration. What type of the data should be stored in the cloud? Which services stores which data, at what location, and how to manage it for secure access? These questions influence the businesses to keep their data on local servers.Identify AWS services and solutions that can provide equivalent or better security measures to those you have today on-premises. Build those services into your deployment plan.

3. Migration of Legacy system

Legacy systems are the most important systems that are the backbone of the business-critical operations. Migration of these systems to AWS is the biggest challenge. The businesses must define the immediate and long-lasting solutions. Consider hybrid cloud where the legacy system and cloud applications are used. Move entire processes to the cloud over the period.

4. Cloud Adoption

A smooth migration to cloud depends on the adoption of its users. How well the employees adapt to the change of technology plays a vital role in the cloud adoption process. Businesses must understand what AWS could bring to the table and take it upon themselves to educate their employees on the same. It takes every member of staff to embrace the shift to make best use of AWS cloud and apply it in their day-to-day operations in the business environment.