To improve app performance, have scalability, and cost-efficiency, it is important that organizations migrate to the cloud. Migrating applications to the cloud are, however, a complex process as most of the applications are not developed as cloud-native initially. This process is full of hurdles and issues such as application reworks, gaps in security, and unexpected costs. Migrating to the cloud needs careful planning to smooth out the entire process.

What is Application Migration?

Application migration makes the shift of an application, host servers, and app associated data from one computing environment to the cloud. Enterprises commonly undergo this process to migrate applications from their on-premise services into private, public, or hybrid cloud environments. 

While private cloud environments allow organizations to manage and host their own cloud resources without having to share them with other users. Public cloud environments provide computing services over the public internet, thereby, allowing all users to purchase and use them without any barriers.

Hybrid cloud environments combine the features of both public and private cloud environments and allow businesses to access the public cloud while their data is kept private. For simple and non-sensitive computing activities, companies obtain the flexibility and computing capacity of the public cloud, while maintaining on-site business-critical applications and data securely behind a company firewall.

What are the Key Application Migration Steps?

With no prior experience with the cloud, the app migration process can be confusing for businesses. However, following the below steps can help businesses make this process easier to understand, plan, and implement:

1. Create the Right Team: Make sure you include the key personnel from each department, as they will be the ones supporting the migration process throughout. Alongside these key members, make sure you also have an internal team of technical experts who manage each phase of the app migration, you can even outsource technical tasks to a reputed software development company.

2. Take Approval from Stakeholders: Be clear about why you need to invest in application migration and what resources you will need to do so. Your goal can be streamlining operations, gaining that competitive edge in the market, or cutting costs, make sure you inform your stakeholders about your plan. Get approval from leadership on the budget, timeline planned, and the project objectives beforehand. Keep all your stakeholders in the loop as the project moves forward.

3. Assess your Application: Evaluate your existing applications and group them depending on the following factors:

·  Business/technical apps

·  How updated the application is

·  Apps that require rewriting

·  Apps developed in-house or by a development company

You also need to find the dependencies, technical requirements, and integration while examining and grouping applications. Once you group your applications, you will be able to decide which cloud environment to migrate to.

How to create an Application Migration Strategy?

Organizations need to have a realistic plan and strategy for migrating each of their applications and in what order to do so. An effective strategy would optimize your cloud infrastructure value while minimizing the time, effort, expense, and risk of migration.

The 5Rs: Re-host, Refactor, Revise, Rebuild, and Replace; are the optimal application migration strategies you can pick from for your organization. Here is what these 5 R’s mean:

1. Re-host: Re-hosting involves lifting your existing applications from your organization’s on-site setup and shifting them to the cloud. In simple terms, it is the process of copy-pasting your applications from your setup onto the cloud. This is the simplest strategy with minimal risk as you are shifting the application without any modifications. This strategy is also cost-efficient as companies do not have to deal with operational and infrastructure costs. Few tools which can be used to automate the re-hosting strategy are Racemi and AWS VM Import/Export.

2. Refactor: Re-architect or Refactor involves transforming an application into a cloud-native application and requires the application to be completely overhauled to adapt it to the cloud environment. This strategy can be used by organizations that want to upgrade their applications and infrastructure to boost agility. This can be a beneficial strategy for developers who want to experiment with applications while leveraging the advantages that come with cloud environments.

3. Revise: Modifying the core architecture and code of the application before the migration, is what the revised strategy essentially entails. The objective of revising is to ensure the application integrates with the cloud environment. This is a technical process and will require an in-house technical team or a third-party development company to get involved. The only disadvantage to this strategy is that it can be time-consuming and expensive at first. 

4. Rebuild: Redundant applications need to be identified before you consider migrating to the cloud. This strategy requires organizations and especially developers to rebuild an application from scratch. Rebuilding should be considered when the application does not gel with the changing business objectives or technological trends.  If your existing applications are not adding any value to your business compared to the costs, it is important to discard them. These cost savings can be beneficial for your development teams to create better and useful applications.

5. Replace: This process entails completely abandoning an application if it is obsolete or does not suit the cloud environment. Substitute existing applications with SaaS applications, either in-house or publically available ones, in such a case Substituting, however, does not mean that all data is lost because it can be transferred to third-party applications.

It will be important to create an application migration strategy that accesses the advantages of the cloud without having to risk security, everyday business tasks, current legacy systems, or exhausting the budget, considering the specific requirements of your organization.

Many applications and systems are still not configured for the cloud. Regardless of how aggressive the cloud strategy of an organization is, essential data and applications are likely to have a large data center footprint left to account for. As organizations invest most of their resources and budgets into the cloud, supporting these systems can become a persistent challenge. Therefore, creating an application migration strategy with short term as well as long term goals is vital.