At Trailhead Technology Partners, we often help our customers navigate the complex world of migrating custom software applications to the cloud. For anyone thinking about undertaking such a project, I’ve outlined the whys and hows of Trailhead’s migration process below. I hope this is a helpful guide to get you started on your own migration project.
Why Migrate to the Cloud
First things first, let’s talk about the advantages of running your applications in the cloud. There are several benefits to moving your applications from on-premises to the cloud, including:
- Scalability: A major benefit of cloud computing is the ability to quickly and easily scale your resources up or down as needed. This enables you to handle unexpected surges in traffic without having to worry about purchasing and maintaining additional hardware.
- Cost Savings: By migrating your software applications to the cloud, you can reduce your hardware and infrastructure costs. You no longer need to maintain a physical data center, which can be expensive and time-consuming. And you also might not need to staff your own server admins, network engineers, or security engineers anymore.
- Accessibility: Cloud computing allows your team to access your applications and backend systems and data from anywhere with an internet connection. This means that your team can work on it remotely, which is a huge advantage in today’s world.
- Security: Most cloud providers have dedicated teams focused on security. By using a reputable cloud provider, you can benefit from their expertise and take advantage of the latest security measures.
- Improved Performance: Cloud providers usually have access to more resources and advanced technologies, and this leads to improved application performance and faster load times.
- Disaster Recovery: It’s typical for a cloud provider to have disaster recovery plans in place, giving your business a reliable backup solution and minimizing downtime in the event of a disaster or outage.
- Enhanced Analytics and Insights: Cloud computing offers businesses the ability to collect, store, and analyze data in real-time, enabling you to gain insights and make data-driven decisions.
- Green Computing: Cloud providers often use energy-efficient hardware and employ advanced cooling techniques, thereby reducing their carbon footprint and providing your business with an environmentally friendly solution.
Migrating in Stages
When it comes to migrating your applications to the cloud, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach – you can migrate in stages! With that in mind, it is also important to understand the difference between the three levels of cloud: cloud-native, infrastructure-as-a-service, and platform-as-a-service.
If you’re starting a new application from scratch, you might consider building it with cloud-native technologies and architecture. This can provide a truly modern and infinitely scalable application, but when you migrate an existing application to the cloud, rewriting it usually isn’t the best option.
Many companies start their cloud journey with infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), which is when you rent computing resources–usually in the form of virtual machines, storage, and networking–from a cloud provider. This gives you many of the advantages of the cloud, including greater control over your infrastructure, but still requires you to manage more of the underlying technology (like operating system updates).
With platform-as-a-service (PaaS), the cloud provider manages the underlying infrastructure for you, including the operating system, patches, middleware, and runtime environment. This allows you to focus more on developing and deploying your applications, rather than managing servers or other infrastructure.
Trailhead can help you evaluate your options and choose the best approach for your unique needs, including potentially a phased approach that starts with IaaS and gradually moves toward PaaS.
Creating a Migration Plan
When migrating your applications to the cloud, it’s important to do so with a very good plan in place. At Trailhead, we use the following steps as a general outline for creating and implementing any cloud migration:
- Evaluate your current infrastructure: Before you can start migrating your applications, you need to understand what you have. Take inventory of your current infrastructure and applications to determine what you will need to migrate. Create detailed lists and diagrams of all your systems, their dependencies on each other, and which ones require proximity for speed. You’ll also want to document any systems that will need to be updated or reconfigured to be able to work in the cloud.
- Choose a cloud provider: There are several cloud providers to choose from, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Some companies don’t want to be tied in to a single provider, and opt to use a multi-cloud strategy. As you consider your options, think about factors like reliability, simplicity, cost, scalability, and security.
- Plan your migration: With a provider in mind and all your systems mapped out, you can now develop a plan and timeline for how you will migrate your applications to the cloud. This should include a timeline, a budget, and a list of any potential challenges you may face.
- Test and deploy: Before you move all your applications to the cloud, it’s important to test everything thoroughly. We generally recommend running both on-premises and in the cloud in parallel and cutting over at a time when the system can go offline briefly. It is also a good idea to use your development, testing, and staging environments as either proofs of concept or practice for the main show – your production migration.
Trailhead Can Help
At Trailhead Technology, we understand that migrating your applications to the cloud can be a daunting task. That’s why we offer professional guidance to help you through the process. Our team of experts can help you evaluate your infrastructure, choose a cloud provider, develop a migration plan, and deploy your applications to the cloud successfully and with minimal impact.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.