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Cloud Migration – Strategies and Challenges

What is Cloud Migration, and how does it work?

Cloud migration is defined as the process of moving data, applications, or other business elements to a cloud computing environment.


Cloud migration is more than just shifting to the cloud; it's an iterative process of cost-cutting and maximizing the cloud's capabilities. It impacts all parts of the organization, including people, processes, and technology. On the other hand, the cloud can allow great scalability, performance, agility, remote work, and cost-efficiency with variable consumption and pricing models.


Spotify, for example, required an infrastructure solution capable of processing 100+ petabytes of data daily and connecting millions of creators with a billion fans. The music streaming service has grown to over 1 million consumers since 2011. To keep up with this rapid expansion, they needed a solution that could handle data as large as 130 million audio files and 8 million events per second while maintaining high performance. Spotify relocated more than 1200 services and 20,000 data processes to the Google Cloud without disrupting the streaming experience. It was able to get more flexible storage space, save money, and provide a more reliable, high-quality audio experience.

By maintaining the same traditional infrastructure configuration, many firms, like Spotify, end up paying more prices for on-premise data centers in upgrading the hardware, preventing themselves from becoming a scalable platform, and facing reduced accessibility, inflexibility, unreliability, and more. The cloud migration strategies come into play at this point. Every organization's path to the cloud is unique, as there is no one-size-fits-all migration strategy. Each IT asset to be transferred is unique in cost, performance, and complexity. As a result, you won't be able to move all of your components to the cloud using a single technique; making a migration roadmap will answer what to move, how to transfer it, and what to move it.


Netflix Shifts from AWS to Google!

It is stated that the world evolves at the same rate as technology. Organizations are continually on the lookout for new technologies, such as cloud computing, to help them achieve their strategic goals and provide value to their businesses.

During Amazon Web Services' climb to the top of the public cloud market over the previous decade, Netflix was undoubtedly its most significant customer. Still, it appears that their special relationship is changing.


Netflix has accepted Google Cloud for specific workloads, primarily focused on artificial intelligence. Although it's unclear how much work has moved from AWS data centers to Google, even a slight movement signals the end of an era in which Netflix was held up as a model "all-in" AWS customer.


Netflix is frequently mentioned as AWS' most well-known customer because the corporation is usually quite open about its architecture. With another gesture to Amazon, the company recently announced that Titus, its container management technology, would be open-sourced. "Given how heavily Netflix infrastructure relies on AWS, we decided to integrate seamlessly and take advantage of as much functionality as AWS has to offer," the firm noted in an official blog post.


Why did Netflix migrate to the AWS cloud in the first place?

When Netflix's database was corrupted for three days in 2008, the company moved to the cloud. Netflix chose AWS as their cloud provider to re-engineer all of their technology and radically transform the way they operate. Their success hinged on high reliability, horizontal scalability, and cloud-based distributed systems. It took them years to finish the refactoring, but it was the best method for them. It now has eight times the number of members it did in 2008 and is a global OTT platform with 130 nations represented.


The apparent shift!

The decision, which hasn't been widely reported, could signal a shift in the cloud computing market's power balance.

According to one of the sources, Netflix uses Google Cloud for various purposes, including its artificial intelligence capabilities. According to a source close to Netflix, the company also saves some "business-critical data" on Google Cloud as a backup to recover rapidly in a disaster. According to a second individual familiar with Netflix's usage, Netflix has also started utilizing Google Cloud to run apps that span vast numbers of workstations. It's unclear whether Netflix uses Google Cloud services in the commercial video-streaming service it sells to users or if it's just for research and software testing. Netflix's growing commercial engagement with Google Cloud comes three years after the company launched Spinnaker. This open-source software initiative allows it to install and upgrade software in the cloud. Google and Netflix collaborated on Spinnaker, and the two companies released an open-source initiative called Kayenta earlier this month that detects potential problems in cloud apps.


According to four former Netflix employees, collaborating with alternative cloud providers risks tension in Netflix's decade-long relationship with AWS. However, they believe it is a step Netflix will have to do in the future to meet the demands of its growing global member base.


Machine learning, making movies searchable, and translating text between languages are tasks for which companies utilize cloud-based AI. Google Cloud is behind AWS and Microsoft in the cloud infrastructure industry, but it has emerged as the early leader in cloud AI services. Netflix may raise its spending on additional Google Cloud services in the future if it finds Google Cloud's AI effective for suggestions. According to a source familiar with the company, Netflix is also "heavily investing" in AWS AI services.


"Our overall relationship with AWS has not changed," a Netflix spokesperson said. We've had a couple of disaster recovery workloads with Google for a long time, and we're continually trying out different technologies. "It doesn't get any bigger than this."


In recent years, AWS has lost considerable business from large customers. In February, Spotify revealed in a regulatory filing that it is shifting its data storage and computation to Google Cloud after running sections of its music-streaming business on AWS for several years.

Netflix warned in its 2017 annual report that because of its extensive reliance on AWS and the difficulties of transitioning to another cloud provider, "any disruption of or interference with our use of AWS would have a detrimental impact on our operations and our company."

Dropbox, a long-time AWS user, said in 2016 that it would be moving its computing and data off of AWS and into its own data centres. Dropbox claimed to have saved almost $75 million due to the move in a regulatory filing in February.


A Multi-Cloud Approach

For businesses, multi-cloud is both a selling factor and an aspirational objective. Companies are well aware of the dangers of vendor lock-in and seek to abstract their apps so that they may be transferred between clouds. Legacy vendors that have constructed platforms that can plug into several clouds — generally with a hefty dose of VMware or Red Hat — are promoting the multi-cloud concept.


Netflix would be following in the footsteps of companies like Snap, which uses Google Cloud and AWS, by embracing a multi-cloud strategy. Collaboration with other cloud providers could also help Netflix avoid the consequences of AWS outages, which have impacted vast numbers of users, including one on Christmas Eve in 2012.


What is a cloud migration strategy?

A cloud migration strategy is a plan for a business to move its data and applications from on-premises to cloud architecture. Because not all workloads benefit from cloud-based infrastructure, it's critical to test the most effective strategy to prioritize and move apps before going live. A well-thought-out, well-documented approach is essential.


Types of cloud migration strategies:

These are the six most frequent migration approaches, collectively known as the "six R's of migration":



Rehosting ("lift and shift")

As the name implies, this entails transferring users’ stack from on-premises to cloud hosting. For the fastest return on investment, users transport an exact clone of your current environment without making any significant modifications. Rehosting is ideal for companies with a conservative culture or no long-term goal for leveraging modern cloud capabilities.


Replatforming (Changing the platform)

Replatforming is a version on the lift and shift that entails making a few more changes to optimize your landscape for the cloud. The core architecture of applications remains unchanged.


Repurchasing

This typically entails migrating the users’ apps to a new cloud-native offering, such as a SaaS platform (for example, moving a CRM to Salesforce). The difficulty is losing the previous code's familiarity and teaching the users’ team on the new platform. Even yet, if users are migrating from a highly customized legacy landscape, repurchasing may be the most cost-effective solution.


Refactoring

Refactoring (or rearchitecting) entails starting again with users’ apps. This is frequently motivated by a need to take advantage of cloud capabilities that aren't available in their current environments, such as cloud auto-scaling or serverless computing. The most expensive alternative is refactoring, but it is also the most compatible with future versions.


Retiring

Users may discover that some applications are no longer useful after evaluating their application portfolio for cloud readiness. Simply turning them off in this situation is helpful. The savings that follow may potentially strengthen the business case for apps that are ready to migrate.

Retention

For some businesses, cloud adoption is still a long way off. Some businesses are unable to take data off-premises due to regulatory requirements. Perhaps users are not ready to give a newly improved app top priority? Plan to revisit cloud computing at a later time in this scenario. Users should just relocate what is necessary for their company.


What are the advantages of cloud migration?

The cloud's strength, at its most fundamental level, is its elastic architecture. This benefit appears in a variety of forms.

Here are some benefits of Cloud Migration-


Host costs are lower

Users no longer have to be concerned about the expenses and conditions of maintaining physical servers in the cloud. The servers are managed by a third-party data centre, which is generally on a subscription basis to avoid capital expense.


Scalability and agility

Cloud adoption is fueled by operational agility. Cloud-based services not only automatically expand capacity to meet rising or changing demand, but they also enable teams to collaborate on application changes or issues from any location rather than being confined to a single location. Businesses with this level of consistency can gain a significant competitive advantage.


Reduced carbon footprint

Users only utilize the energy and resources you need since server capacity scales up and down to meet their cloud needs. For lower environmental impact, users may even reduce your data centre pool to one or even zero.

Disaster recovery is critical for businesses of all sizes, but it has traditionally been prohibitively expensive for small enterprises. Today, the cloud is assisting more businesses in implementing backup and recovery solutions that need less time and money upfront.


Protection: By centralizing users’ sensitive data and apps, the cloud provides more security than data centres. Most cloud providers also use frequent security updates to avoid unwanted traffic from accessing your data, leaving you free of security threats and free to take care of your business.


What are the difficulties associated with cloud migration?

Today's engineers face a major issue in ensuring efficient application transfer. Even when you've found the right cloud provider, the migration process isn't without risk. The following are important scenarios to be aware of:


Downtime

The migration process may necessitate taking in-house servers offline for a period of time. However, if effective backup and resource allocation are not in place, outages can be terrible for application performance and, by extension, client loyalty.


Not implementing the best strategy

Cloud migration strategies are road maps that guide users through the full process of migrating their assets to the cloud. The majority of CTOs have the issue of determining the best strategy for their company's needs. If the plan is incorrect, the ROI and uptime will be lower, resulting in inefficient business operations.

The "lift and shift" method, for example, is a simple way to move users’ assets to the cloud, but it isn't a one-size-fits-all cloud migration plan. Users may want to alter it a little, especially if their programmes have compatibility concerns. Similarly, you can't merely "lift and shift" if the application runtime environment differs from the cloud environment.


Loss of data

The company's data is at its most susceptible during the transition to the cloud. Some of it may be unavailable or vulnerable to hacking. Cloud security policies such as privileged access management and app encryption must be used with extreme caution to reduce the danger of a data leak.


Management of resources

The cloud is not trusted by all IT professionals. Employees who were previously responsible for physical servers may need to be trained on the new architecture. In other circumstances, cloud adoption necessitates the creation of new IT management positions or a complete transformation of company operations.


Interoperability

It's not easy to get older programmes to work with newer cloud settings. You may need to modify your processes to those of your cloud provider to ensure that they do.


Cost of cloud migration

Cloud sprawl is commonly associated with going over your initial budget: cloud instances keep springing up for no apparent reason, and expenses begin to spiral out of control. To keep your cloud expenditures under control, start measuring costs right away and assigning them to certain cost centres inside your company. Measuring your costs and performance on a regular basis is critical for determining the ROI of your cloud migration and determining whether or not the transfer was successful.


Keeping Vendor Lock-In at Bay

Migrating to the cloud might be beneficial to the users’ company, but it can also lead to restrictions, which is known as vendor lock-in. When companies choose a cloud vendor, they examine their current needs. As they grow, they'll need more interoperability, which isn't always possible with every cloud-based service, potentially disrupting your operations.


Training employees on the cloud solutions

One of the most common reasons for cloud migration failure is a lack of employee training, rather than cost or security concerns. Users should be aware that structuring IT services in the cloud differs significantly from on-premises procedures such as DevOps, Infrastructure as a Code, and automation technologies. Ascertain that all members of the team are on the same page and possess the necessary skills, knowledge, and understanding to manage the new infrastructure. Team training sessions or video lectures are available from the leading cloud providers. Time should be set up for training and certifications as part of the relocation plan.


These are just a few of the numerous migration problems that necessitate meticulous planning, testing, and resource allocation.


Top 5 Cloud Migration Solution Providers


Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the most comprehensive and widely used cloud platform in the world, with over 165 fully featured services available from data centres all around the world. AWS prioritises cloud security above anything else. As a customer, you'll have access to a data centre and network architecture designed to satisfy the needs of the most security-conscious businesses. AWS Application Migration Services (AWS MGN) is AWS's primary cloud migration tool, and it's meant to help you move from traditional infrastructure to cloud architecture in minutes. Because AWS MGN continually duplicates your servers and applications, there will be little to no downtime during the transfer, allowing you to continue running your business as usual.

Some of the services worth listing are as follows- Virtual Private Cloud, EC2, AWS Data Transfer, Simple Storage Service, DynamoDB, Elastic Compute Cloud, AWS Key Management Service, AmazonCloudWatch, Simple Notification Service, Relational Database Service, Route 53, Simple Queue Service, CloudTrail, and Simple Email Service.


AWS Cloud Migration Features:

  • Continuous transfers and replications that minimize downtime of applications

  • Migration services are built into the AWS Management Console allowing volume based cost savings through AWS Consolidated Billing

  • Can transfer petabytes of data instantly through the AWS Snow Family

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is one of the most rapidly expanding clouds available. Although Azure came out years after AWS and Google Cloud, it is still vying for the title of best cloud services provider. It offers to compute, analytics, storage, and networking as well as other cloud services. Users can pick and choose from these services to build and grow new apps or run existing apps in the cloud. The Azure platform is designed to assist organisations in overcoming obstacles and achieving their objectives. It supports a wide range of industries, including e-commerce, finance, and a number of Fortune 500 organisations, and it is open source compatible.


Microsoft Azure Stack, AI + Machine Learning, Analytics, Blockchain, Compute, Containers, Databases, Developer Tools, DevOps, Identity, Integration, Internet of Things, Management, Media, Microsoft Azure Stack, Migration, Mixed Reality, Mobile, Networking, Security, Storage, Web, and Windows Virtual Desktop are just a few of the services available.


Microsoft Azure has a large number of service offerings and a wide range of applications. One of the most common uses for Microsoft Azure is to run virtual machines or containers in the cloud. Infrastructure components such as domain name system (DNS) servers, Windows Server services such as Internet Information Services (IIS), and third-party applications can all be hosted on these computational resources. Third-party operating systems, such as Linux, are also supported by Microsoft. Azure is also utilised as a platform for cloud-based database hosting. Serverless relational databases, such as Azure SQL, and non-relational databases, such as NoSQL, are both available from Microsoft.


Furthermore, the platform is frequently used for disaster recovery and backup. Several firms employ Azure storage as an archive to meet their long-term data preservation requirements.


AZURE Cloud Migration Features:

  • Block based migration that limits downtime

  • Built in integration with Office 365, Sharepoint, and Outlook

  • Rigorous security protocols that ensure the safety of your data

IBM Cloud

IBM Cloud is a suite of cloud computing services for businesses developed by IBM. The IBM cloud offers IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS services via public, private, and hybrid cloud architectures, similar to other cloud service providers.

Compute, Network, Storage, Cloud Packs, Management, Security, Database, Analytics, AI, IoT, Mobile, Dev Tools, Blockchain, Integration, Migration, Private Cloud, and VMware are a few of the technologies that the IBM provides.


IBM Cloud Migration Features:

  • Machine learning powered migration path optimization

  • Builds management and monitoring mechanisms into your cloud solution during migration

  • High levels of customer service

  • Managed solutions focused on your organization’s use case

The Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

Google Cloud, like AWS and Azure, provides services in a variety of categories, including compute, storage, identity, security, database, AI and machine learning, virtualization, DevOps, and more.

The following is a complete list of Google Cloud Platform services and products:

API Management, Compute, Containers, Data Analytics, Databases, Developer Tools, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Hybrid and Multi-cloud, Internet of Things, Management Tools, Media and Gaming, Migration, Networking, Security and Identity, Serverless Computing, and Storage.

G Suite, Google Maps Platform, Google Hardware, Google Identity, Chrome Enterprise, Android Enterprise, Apigee, Firebase, and Orbitera are also available.


Google Cloud Migration Feature:

  • Rollback functionality to ensure the safety of data during migration

  • On-premise utilization reports to help with provisioning cloud infrastructure

  • Advanced replication technology that migrates data to the cloud in the background, with no downtime or stoppage

Oracle Cloud

Oracle Cloud provides Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Data as a Service (DaaS) (DaaS).


The following are some of Oracle's services and products:

Compute, Storage, Networking, Governance, Database, Load Balancing, DNS Monitoring, Ravello, and FastConnect, Data Management, Application Development, Integration, Business Analytics, Security, Management, and Content and Enterprise, CX, HCM, ERP, SCM, EPM, IoT, Analytics, Data, and Blockchain Applications.


Oracle Cloud Migration Feature:

  • Security-first archtitecture, without sacrificing performance

  • Integrated full stack management across both cloud and on-premise infrastructure

  • High-performance, highly resistant database structure.

Conclusion

Several billion-dollar industries, such as AI innovation, blockchain, and cloud security, will continue to be part of the cloud computing future (Source: Forbes). As a result, most boardroom talks these days are increasingly focused on the role of technology in business strategy.


Cloud migration can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be if you have the correct information and guidance. Because it spends so much of its annual budget on programming content, Netflix is under pressure to lower costs. The approach you choose or have in place for your business is also influenced by the migration model you select or have in place, such as infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), or Platform as a Service (PaaS) (PaaS). Because there is no one-size-fits-all solution, your migration strategy can combine some or all of these tactics. These tactics aren't definitive, but they're an excellent place to start regarding relocation planning.


References

· https://www.zdnet.com/article/the-top-cloud-providers-of-2021-aws-microsoft-azure-google-cloud-hybrid-saas/

· https://www.simform.com/blog/cloud-migration-strategy/

· https://www.datamation.com/cloud/cloud-service-providers/

· https://medium.com/serverlessguru/companies-moving-from-aws-and-azure-to-google-cloud-platform-55fe74f54bd2

· https://cloud.netapp.com/blog/cloud-migration-strategy-challenges-and-steps

· https://www.imperva.com/learn/application-security/cloud-migration/

· https://www.trustradius.com/cloud-migration

· https://www.n-ix.com/best-cloud-migration-companies/