Cloud computing is a hot topic, but what are the data cloud’s added values for businesses and what reasons are there to move data and infrastructure into the cloud?
70% of companies in Germany recognise the necessity to become heavily digitised within the next two years. According to an IDC study, 60% are convinced that high flexibility and performance are the most important factors with digitisation. This is exactly where the cloud comes into play. And it can do far more than simply abolish expensive in-house data centres.
Thanks to the cloud, increasingly mobile applications can be provided as closely to the customer or user as possible, dynamic services become available independent both of time and, IT resources become easier to administer and in most cases also more efficient. The cloud satisfies user demands for flexible, performant and scalable applications.
The cloud also offers a large number of added values for companies, such as:
- Lower costs for hardware and infrastructure
- Only actually used resources need to be paid (Pay-as-You-Go)
- Balancing of load peaks
- High flexibility
- Automatic scalability
- Lower administrative effort
- Development of new business processes and models
This all sounds very promising, but: How do companies now move their data and applications from on- site servers into the cloud?
Four Types of Cloud Migration
There are different approaches to move infrastructure into the cloud. It depends mainly on the quality of the existing infrastructure as well as the cloud usage strategy, which will determine the type of cloud migration of a company:
Direct Cloud Migration (“Lift-and-Shift”)
Using this approach, the infrastructure is transferred automatically with the help of migration tools from a local hypervisor into a Public Cloud. This generally happens quickly and easily, and there are naturally few or no changes to be made to the applications. Experience has shown that lift-and-shift projects quickly achieve cost savings.
Generally, optimisations of the applications can also be done later on in the public cloud. However, according to a study by CloudEndure, in practice only around half of the applications are actually moved into the cloud without any changes, the remainder experiences some modernisation measures ahead of migration.
Here applications are customised for the PaaS layer (Platform-as-a-Service) of the cloud provider. On these platforms companies can continuously expand and tailor their applications. The transition of applications to microservices architectures often plays a part. According to Forrester, large systems integrators and diverse cloud providers are well prepared for such projects.
Instead of moving applications into the cloud, they can also be “extended“ there. Here new features are built in the public cloud, while the majority of the existing functions will remain, for example On-Premises, or in a hosted private cloud. High latency may be problematic with this approach, as this is dependent on the distance between the various locations. According to an estimate by Forrester, such projects can be easily realised with large systems integrators and consulting providers.
In some cases, it is necessary to initially prepare entire applications for the cloud. This means that they have to be made scalable and dismantled into individual components. This procedure is extremely time- and cost-intensive, whereby a full rebuild has the objective of achieving performance gains for particularly valuable applications, which were developed specifically for the business.
Challenges during Cloud Migration
Depending on the scope and type of infrastructure to be transferred, a range of challenges during cloud migration may arise. They emerge in particular from the following three factors:
One common complication with cloud migration, is that there are divisions within the organisation concerning cloud strategy. One group would like to primarily reduce costs quickly and prefer integrated lift-and-shift projects. Another group recognises that using the cloud has even more potential than simply cost saving. For them the cloud becomes the basis for new business ideas and processes, with its help it is possible to develop new products and services. They do not think that work is done simply by inputting data and applications as they demand entire application modernisations, which often are accompanied by temporary financial restrictions, and therefore lead to resentment with many supervisors and colleagues.
Finding the right Cloud Provider
With an increasing number of users of the data cloud, the number of providers also multiplies, who enable such services and cloud migration. With this in mind, it is of course difficult to find the right provider for your own business. Forrester therefore advises those responsible for IT to consider the focus areas of the different providers and appropriately select the one most suitable to the company´s own requirements. Nowadays interested parties can expect from all providers so-called portfolio evaluations, i.e. an evaluation of the application portfolio of the customer with a view to using the cloud. Providers also differentiate themselves for example in the type of contract. Most of them treat migration as a project business, however, some providers combine the migration process also with longer-running managed cloud services.
Cloud Migration of Legacy Applications
Modernisation of long-served applications, often developed by companies in-house, is becoming increasingly important, in particular when these applications are vital for business processes. The reasons hereby are, that factors such as speed, agility and efficiency in process dominate increasingly. Open interfaces and interoperability in the system environment have become equally essential. Historically grown systems cause far higher operating costs than virtual environments or cloud concepts. In addition, there is also often a loss of expertise over years on how to maintain these applications.
There are several approaches how to cloud-enable older applications. However, these either have the disadvantage that not all features of the applications can also be used in the data cloud, or that development of the software is very time-consuming and expensive. Alternatively, customers can also use the cloud applications on offer by the provider and migrate their own data. However, this again creates considerable effort. For example the oneclick™ platform for the provision of software applications and data, allows mobile access of legacy applications via the browser even without migration.
The migration of applications and data as well as resources in the cloud goes hand in hand with a number of advantages, such as cost savings, high flexibility and scalability, increased efficiency and modernisation of business processes. Depending on the requirements of the company and existing IT infrastructure, there are different approaches to migrate applications to the cloud. On the journey to the cloud, there are some hurdles to overcome, mainly concerning staff attitudes towards the cloud and its added value. There is also the challenge to select the most suitable from a large number of cloud providers, who have different specialisms and migration methods. Legacy applications and their migration also present challenges for many companies.
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