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Cloud Data Migration Strategies: The 5Rs and When to Use Them
According to Google Cloud, 41.4% of tech decision-makers plan to increase their usage of cloud-based apps and products, while one in three is planning to migrate app functionality (33.4%) and workloads (32.8%) to the cloud in 2023.
Cost-effectiveness, scalability, and improved data utilization are among the key reasons why – as well as future-proofing in a volatile economic climate.
In this article, we’ll look at five methods of app and data migration to the cloud and how they correspond to different needs and organizational goals – as well as how legacy systems, apps, and architectures affect this choice.
What Are Cloud Data Migration Strategies?
A data migration strategy is the migration approach chosen in order to save costs and increase benefits when migrating apps and data to the cloud. The right strategy can streamline operations and help make full use of the advantages of cloud environments.
When migrating to the cloud, rationalization comes first: Which applications are still useful and should be retained? Then, it’s time to decide on the optimal migration strategy based on the current and planned infrastructure, as well as the organization’s goals.
You’ll want to implement the appropriate migration strategy to ensure compatibility and flexibility, eliminate data swamps and silos, improve data governance, and define a unified data platform that will help your organization grow by leveraging the cloud.
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The 5Rs of Data Migration
There are five cloud migration strategies that enable app rationalization and prevent data swamps and silos:
- Rehost: Move applications to the cloud without intervening in their code or architecture.
- Refactor: Rewrite applications in part to make them compatible with the platform.
- Rearchitect: Change the architecture of the application to a cloud-native one.
- Rebuild: Rewrite the app into a cloud-native application.
- Replace: Replace the application with a cloud-based solution.
The five different data migration strategies apply in different scenarios, and also relate to the company’s resources, circumstances, and KPIs.
In general terms, the more resource-intensive strategies boost organizations’ benefits from the cloud the most, but there are key factors to consider.
An informed decision will not only ensure that your migration is successful but also that you get from the cloud the usability and benefits you choose based on your needs.
- If your priority is a quick solution, you may not be able to use the full potential of the cloud (at least not immediately).
- For the new cloud-based data platform to be used to its full potential, opening up new opportunities for optimization, streamlining, and growth, you will have to invest more resources during migration, as well as be more patient.
The five data migration strategies considered in relation to time commitment and risks incurred, as well as their potential impact.
Which Cloud Data Migration Strategy Should You Choose?
The cloud data migration strategy that suits your organization will always depend on your needs. Consider costs, time constraints, and human resources. Also, keep in mind that for optimal return on investment, the best solution may be a combined one, with each subcomponent subject to a different strategy.
Importantly, cloud migration strategies are closely linked to your current ecosystem and stack. You will need to take into account whether and how your legacy apps can be adapted – which may require consultation with your senior data engineering team or third-party data migration experts.
|WHAT’S YOUR NEED?||YOU MAY WANT TO…|
|Want to start afresh?||replace|
|Have your needs changed since legacy apps?||replace|
|Prefer custom-made apps that fit your needs?||rebuild|
|Is scaling a priority?||rebuild|
|Do you have a team of developers at hand and a strong current stack?||refactor or rearchitect|
|Looking for a balance of cost and return?||refactor or rearchitect|
|Is existing apps’ code base portable?||refactor|
|Looking for the fastest migration?||rehost|
|Current on-premises costs too high?||rehost|
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Also known as lift-and-shift application migration, rehosting transfers everything to the new cloud environment without transforming the dataset or its pipelines. This means the OS, frameworks, and runtimes, too.
Rehosting has the benefit of being the simplest available solution. However, it is not always possible, depending on dependencies and compatibility. It also does not make the most of the new cloud environment.
Benefits of rehosting apps on the cloud
- The cheapest and fastest option
- Reduces on-premises costs
- Solves local storage/resource shortages
Drawbacks of rehosting apps on the cloud
- Fewer benefits from the cloud
- Operational costs can be high
- Perpetuates data silos and pools
Refactoring refers to porting existing applications to fit the cloud platform in order to use Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions. This is done either by using the vendor’s service-specific SDK or by redeveloping parts of the application for compatibility.
When the code base is portable, refactoring allows you to benefit from PaaS systems, which take away the need to operate infrastructure so you can focus your efforts on the applications and data.
Benefits of refactoring apps for cloud services
- Relatively lower costs
- Provides scalability and efficiency
- The code base is portable
Drawbacks of refactoring apps for cloud services
- You’re locked into a specific PaaS framework
- Need to familiarize with a new SDK and its data architecture
- It might need to be combined with rearchitecting
This rationalization strategy rebuilds the architecture of specific parts of the app that are incompatible with the cloud. When an application is out of date, not cloud compatible, or its design doesn’t allow for refactoring, rearchitecting may be the solution.
In general terms, one will require sufficient resources in place to both efficiently oversee and execute this demanding project. However, when it is achieved, this strategy can help make use of the advantages of the cloud without starting from scratch.
Benefits of rearchitecting apps for the cloud
- Scalability and agility
- Brings applications up to date and makes them cloud-compatible
Drawbacks of rearchitecting apps for the cloud
- The complexity of this strategy can delay migration
- Requires careful planning and highly skilled resources
- Possible vendor lock-in with database tech and middleware
Also known as rewriting, rebuilding is when the code for an existing application is rewritten from scratch to be cloud-native. This is one of the most intensive migration strategies – however, it could prove more cost-effective than rearchitecting or refactoring in the long run, especially as it allows you to make the most of the cloud.
Such an intensive migration approach is suitable for organizations that are ready to grow and scale up, and provides opportunities to update functionality to keep up with business strategy.
Benefits of rebuilding apps for the cloud
- Leveraging the cloud’s true and full potential
- Offers opportunities to streamline systems and scale up
- Eliminates old code and redundancies
Drawbacks of rebuilding apps for the cloud
- A time-consuming and laborious commitment
- High upfront costs can be an issue
- Rebuilding is a major project to coordinate and manage
This cloud migration strategy simply replaces legacy apps with new SaaS that enable business in similar ways. Replacing is suitable when there are minimal developer resources or as an opportunity to start afresh and add new functionality.
If you have outgrown your legacy apps, replacing them with best-of-breed or best-of-suite SaaS solutions will bring the system up to date.
Benefits of replacing apps with cloud apps
- Cloud-native functionality boosts operations
- Opportunity to improve upon processes
- Less laborious than other options
Drawbacks of replacing apps with cloud apps
- Meticulous preparation is key to ensuring all needs are covered
- Can require extra migration software
- Possible vendor lock-in with new vendors
- Potential issues disengaging from current app providers
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What’s the Best Cloud Migration Strategy?
Although choosing a cloud migration strategy can sometimes be straightforward, different ecosystems come in several different architecture variations, so it’s not easy to generalize.
Migration strategies are generally mixed, with each subcomponent assigned to a specific action. What you’ll want to do to ensure you don’t mess up your migration is to consult the expertise of data migration providers, who will factor in everything and recommend solutions specific to your current environment.
Typical Scenario: Hadoop to Databricks Migration
After all the theory, let’s look at a practical example: a Hadoop ecosystem with several Sparks jobs and an HBase columnar database.
Hadoop environments can be packed and transferred to the cloud, but most providers have platform-native services that provide lower costs, so it is crucial to consider better alternatives to rehosting.
Since Sparks jobs can simply be moved to Databricks if there are no dependencies, this may look like a simple rehosting job. However, rehosting lifts everything and moves it to the cloud.
Instead, here, we want to keep the code but change the underlying environment. This means rearchitecting. That’s not all, though. During migration, the structure of the code and custom libraries can cause issues – so refactoring will be needed here too.
So in this Hadoop scenario, the best strategy for data migration to the cloud is a combination of refactoring and rearchitecting.
Making the Most of Your Data Migration to the Cloud
As you can see, there are several considerations to take into account when planning app and data migration to the cloud. From technical constraints to budget and business goals, these need to be carefully defined in order to follow the best strategy.
By consulting data migration experts, you can reap the rewards and minimize risks and disruption on the way to harnessing the power of the cloud and enabling your growth.
- Google Cloud: Survey says: Leaders are doubling down on cloud for stability and financial resilience