Application migration to the cloud: Best practices and real-life cases
N-iX
2020-10-15T14:50:53+00:00

Today, almost every company leverages cloud for application deployment. Many businesses adopt the cloud-first strategy and build apps right in the cloud to achieve scalability, availability, cost efficiency, and increased performance. As IDC states, by 2022, 90% of all new apps will feature microser...

Application migration to the cloud: Best practices and real-life cases

Today, almost every company leverages cloud for application deployment. Many businesses adopt the cloud-first strategy and build apps right in the cloud to achieve scalability, availability, cost efficiency, and increased performance. As IDC states, by 2022, 90% of all new apps will feature microservices architectures, and 35% of all production apps will be cloud-native. Although many apps are now born in the cloud, there is still a great number of on-premises solutions that need to be migrated.

And adapting apps that were not developed as cloud-native ones is a complex process that requires a thorough strategy. Application migration to the cloud is a top challenge, according to the new survey data by INAP. Many businesses are not sure how to approach cloud application transformation and make it successful right from the start. There are many open-ended questions that hang over people’s heads.

Should I migrate my app to the cloud? How to get started with application migration to the cloud? Which migration path is right for me? Let’s discover the ins and outs of cloud application transformation together.

To learn more about best practices on successful cloud migration, download our e-book for free.

All organizations accelerate application migration to the cloud

The global cloud application transformation market size is expected to grow from $9.7B in 2019 to $16.8B by 2024, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.6% during 2019–2024. North America will hold the largest market size during the forecast period. Among all industries, retail is expected to grow as the fastest-growing segment.

Application transformation market

A 2019 study from IDC predicts a 50% increase in the number of applications over the next two years. 28% of all applications are in a public cloud and 40% are in customers own private clouds. Both enterprises and SMBs are increasingly undertaking application transformation to the cloud. However, this trend is more strong among enterprises as they run more apps. They use IaaS and PaaS more than SaaS. The percentage of applications among enterprises is expected to grow. Most of these apps (shown with the green arrow) will be born cloud-native as either microservices or serverless apps. The existing apps will be re-architected and migrated to the cloud. 

The growth and composition of applications in an Enterprise

SMBs, on the other hand, make greater use of SaaS. According to the Techaisle 2020 US SMB & Midmarket SaaS Adoption Trends survey report, three in four (77%) small businesses and almost all (99%) mid-market firms use one or more SaaS applications. 

According to the Forrester Analytics Global Business Technographics Developer Survey 2019, more companies move their apps to the cloud rather than build new ones. Application migration to the cloud is on the rise. They either decide to move their apps to the cloud and then improve them or first rewrite them and then migrate to a public or private cloud.

application migration strategy

However, it's only a matter of time when the number of cloud-first generation apps surpluses on-premises systems. 

How to approach application migration: 7 foolproof tips

Migrating apps to the cloud is a complicated procedure that presupposes many risks. If not done right, it can lead to unexpectedly high costs, security gaps, downtime, and poor performance. Here, we highlight several best practices that will help you achieve success with application migration to the cloud:

  1. Create a clear migration plan 

Before migrating apps, you need to perform the migration readiness assessment and have a clear cloud migration strategy in place. You should understand your current state of the cloud journey, identify areas of strength and weakness, and create an action plan for effective cloud migration. Your plan should include costs estimates, timelines, services to use, etc. Please note that data should be moved first, before applications.

  1. Assess and prioritize your apps 

As a part of your migration readiness assessment, it is important to carry out a careful analysis of your application portfolio:

  1. First, you need to define the types of applications you choose for migration. There are mission-critical applications, business-critical applications, customer-facing applications, and other non-critical apps. You should assess how crucial response time, latency, downtime are for each app to understand whether your app can sacrifice these parameters to some extent during migration. 
  2. Also, check if there are any legal or other objections due to which you can not migrate the app. Not every legacy application qualifies for cloud migration and cloud-native. 
  3. Besides, you need to find out whether there are some legal requirements of co-location of applications and data in a particular place. 
  4. Then, you should prioritize what types of applications you move first, which apps you migrate after that, and which ones can not be migrated at all. 

For example, if the application is mission-critical, then it should have the lowest priority for cloud migration because of the uncertainty of the new infrastructure. Non-critical apps, by contrast, are the good candidates to kick off the migration.

  1. Evaluate the IT architecture and design of your apps

When it comes to application migration, many CIOs claim that the complexity of their current IT architecture poses one of the major risks of moving to the cloud. It slows their migration to the cloud as understanding business operations, all the relationships around business applications and databases that support them as well as the equipment and services that run the applications requires solid IT skills. According to Flexera 2020 report, understanding app dependencies is a top cloud migration challenge.

If the legacy app relies on the monolith architecture, you should consider whether it is possible to transform it into microservices leveraging containers. But note that not every app can be transformed to microservices with affordable resources (time and costs). 

application migration options to the cloud

Containers are great, even more they are cloud-agnostic, but serverless and fully-managed services are cloud-native too. And with the help of these two options you can also get all the benefits of cloud-native development including, scalability, flexibility, great efficiency, availability, etc.

  1. Calculate ROI to assess the app feasibility

In order to understand under what circumstances the application migration to the cloud would be profitable for your company, you need to conduct a Discovery Phase and calculate ROI. It is important to prepare a detailed app requirements specification and define your goals, features, the optimum technology stack, and architecture overview. Also, it is obligatory to estimate TCO and the profitability you will gain in the short term and in the long run.

  1. Choose the right application transformation method

There are various strategies to migrate legacy applications to the cloud. Taken into account classifications by AWS, Oracle, GCP, and Forrester, here at N-iX, we have come up with 6 key application transformation methods

  • Re-host (lift and shift)
  • Re-platform (lift, tinker and shift)
  • Modernize
  • Rewrite
  • Drop and shop
  • Retain

Re-hosting is the easiest application transformation method  as it requires no coding effort and takes the least time. However, from the long-term perspective, this method doesn’t offer superior scalability and performance opportunities. Re-platforming as a variation of the lift and shift approach involves some further adjustments to improve your landscape in some way, like migration to fully-managed services. Modernizing in comparison with lift and shift or lift, tinker and shift requires architecture refactor or code modification, for example one of the common modernization task is monolith decomposition to microservices. Thus, more coding effort is needed. Rewriting applied when regular refactor or architecture modification is not helpful and a whole codebase is required to be rewritten to cloud native technology stack based on business requirements of an existing solution. Drop and shop is the best option if the ROI of transitioning a legacy application to the cloud is expected to be poor. In this case, it is better to purchase the ready-made solutions that will bring you scalability and performance opportunities you require. Retaining is a passive method as no migration is needed. You keep applications as-is, where they are. 

  1. Ensure high-level security of your apps in the cloud

Implement security from the very first stage of application migration. Find experienced DevOps engineers and a security team who can make necessary configurations and ensure the long-term security of your apps in the cloud. Here are a few simple things about security in the cloud everyone should know:

  • Encrypt data assets in transit and at rest;
  • Leave sensitive data on-premises or store it in a some particular region, or depersonalize it;
  • Isolate individual workloads to minimize any damage an attacker could cause;
  • Configure a Firewall;
  • Plan for security across heterogeneous environments;
  • Make use of intelligent automation technologies such as RPA, Big Data, AI, IoT, etc.;
  • Avoid shadow IT;
  • Implement necessary controls;
  • Enable multi-factor authentication and set up user access policies;
  • Update passwords;
  • Don’t use one password for all tools;
  • Update anti-virus software;
  • Don’t open susceptible links;
  • Upgrade software to the latest installation.
  • Train others on how to maintain security in the cloud.
  1. Make use of DevOps best practices (CI/CD, rolling updates and IaC)

DevOps and the cloud go hand in hand. Starting from infrastructure setup, and CI/ CD to monitoring and security, DevOps helps build a highly automated environment that allows development teams to deliver applications and services at high velocity. DevOps not only boosts development efficiency but also enhances security, speeds up time-to-market, reduces resource utilization, and improves scalability.

  1.  Monitor the results and optimize costs if needed

After application migration is completed, start tracking the results. Apply metrics and KPIs defined on planning stage such as error rates (failed requests/total requests), application availability, latency, number of time-outs, throughput, costs, etc. to assess the success of your application migration to the cloud. 

Also, it is important to improve the DevOps practices you use to optimize your costs involved in software development, deployment, and maintenance. Here we highlight the most common ones:

  • Reduce infrastructure usage in the areas where it can be reduced;
  • Start using third-party services which allow you to reduce operational overhead and save costs;
  • Automate the CI/CD process and provisioning of IT infrastructure;
  • Delete underutilized instances;
  • Rightsize your workloads;
  • Take advantage of autoscaling;
  • Move infrequently accessed storage to cheaper tiers;
  • Set alerts for crossing predetermined spend thresholds;
  • Explore whether hosting in a different region could reduce costs;
  • Invest in reserved instances;
  • Leverage spot instances for serverless and parts that don’t require high availability;
  • Make use of discounts.

Cloud providers offer different types of compute and storage resources with different payment options and tiers. For example, AWS-based service, which provides compute resources called EC2, allows you to choose different types of instances: Dedicated, On-demand, Spot, or Reserved ones. Choosing the right type of instance for a specific case allows optimizing costs significantly. 

EC2 cost models

Businesses that benefited from application migration to the cloud

  • Vable, a UK information management company, wanted to expand its market reach to cover the greater scope of business cases and serve a wider range of customers. Thus, they needed to move its on-premises content automation platform to the cloud to ensure high scalability, availability, and flexibility. N-iX has helped Vable rethink the business idea of their on-premises solution and migrate it to the AWS cloud platform. We have designed a new software architecture, moving from the traditional backend monolith to microservices, developed cloud data services for the product, and built new functionality. As a result, the platform is highly flexible and ready to expand to new markets. 
  • As a part of its digital strategy, our client Lebara decided to migrate its solutions from on-premises to the cloud. To avoid the vendor lock-in and have more flexibility, our client decided to follow the multi-cloud strategy and chose two cloud providers - AWS and Azure. N-iX has been leading Lebara’s cloud transformation and development of scalable, easy to maintain, and cost- efficient cloud solutions. First, our specialists worked on building the microservices on AWS. Our DevOps experts designed and developed a fully automated CI/CD pipeline in AWS. Then, our professionals contributed to the migration from on-premises to Azure. To ensure a clear and automated CI/ CD process, we designed and developed a fully automated CI/CD pipeline in Azure. Further, we migrated from Azure Service Fabric to Azure Kubernetes Services, which involved migration from Windows to Linux to save costs.
  • Our partner cleverbridge decided to migrate its desktop app to the cloud with updated features to ensure that clients on different platforms and devices can easily access the application. N-iX has migrated the old desktop application to the web with its backend integration. We have helped the client go omnichannel to expand market reach. The web-based application is now available across different operating systems, browsers and mobile devices. New UX design improved the convenience and experience of using the app thanks to the lean UX approach and involvement of cleverbridge customers in various stages of new design. Also, we applied our extensive knowledge in Power BI and built an informative BI analytics for the cleverbridge’s largest clients.

Speed up your application migration to the cloud with N-iX

  • N-iX is a Select AWS Consulting Partner, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, a Google Cloud Partner, and an OpenText Reseller Silver Partner;
  • N-iX is compliant with PCI DSS, ISO 9001, ISO 27001, and GDPR standards;
  • Our expertise in cloud computing includes cloud-native development, on-premise-to-cloud migration, cloud-to-cloud migration, as well as multicloud and hybrid cloud management;
  • We offer professional DevOps services, including Cloud adoption (infrastructure set up, migration, optimization), building and streamlining CI/CD processes, security issues detection/prevention (DDOS & intrusion), firewall-as-a-service, and more;
  • N-iX has broad data expertise to design different kinds of data solutions: Big Data / Data Warehouse / Data lake, Business Intelligence, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  • N-iX is trusted in the global tech market: the company is listed among the top software development providers by Clutch, in the Global Outsourcing 100 by IAOP, recognized by GSA UK 2019 Awards, included in top software development companies by GoodFirms.co, and others.
  • N-iX is among the world’s 501 leading managed service providers (MSPs), according to Channel Futures' 13th annual MSP 501 worldwide company rankings.

References:

  1. Modernize Your Business With Public Cloud Development Platforms, Forrester Research, Inc., March 17, 2020
  2. Learn about migrating application data to the cloud by Oracle 
  3. Migration to Google Cloud: Getting started by GCP
  4. 6 Strategies for Migrating Applications to the Cloud by AWS
  5. Application Migration by IBM
  6. 2020 State of the Cloud Report by Flexera
  7. Application Transformation Market by MarketsandMarkets
  8. Transforming Applications and Multicloud Operations by IDC

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By Marta Hlova, Andrian Vyslotskyi October 15, 2020
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N-iX is an Eastern European provider of software development services with 1000+ expert software engineers onboard that power innovative technology businesses. Since 2002 we have formed strategic partnerships with a variety of global industry leaders including OpenText, Novell, Lebara, Currencycloud and over 50 other medium and large-scale businesses. With delivery centers in Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, and Belarus, we deliver excellence in software engineering and deep expertise in a range of verticals including finance, healthcare, hospitality, telecom, energy and enterprise content management helping our clients to innovate and implement technology transformations.

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