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Cloud-native migration is becoming a buzzword with regard to digital transformation. We look at what it is, how it works, and the benefits and challenges.

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How Cloud-Native Migration is Revolutionizing Digital Transformation

Posted by Angela Davis on July 12, 2023

Cloud-native migration is just one innovation of the current era of digital transformation. New apps, systems, and technologies are constantly changing the ways we work and do business in 2023. 

The introduction and adoption of cloud-based systems can help the numerous organizations still using legacy systems. However, many remain hesitant to adopt it, often considering it costly and unnecessary, despite the evidence that says otherwise. 

So, is it necessary? What is cloud-native migration, and what benefits can it bring your company? 

What is cloud-native migration?

A graphic showing expected increases in global spending on public cloud services.

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Many organizations continue to operate with legacy systems today. While this dated tech may still work the way it was designed to, it often doesn’t allow for growth. There’s limited ability to expand what it currently does, and the age of the technology often reduces the chances of it working with new innovations. 

To move forward, companies need to consider systems that offer them opportunities to adopt or interact with new technologies. This is where cloud-native migration can help. 

Cloud-native migration is the process of moving digital assets from outdated legacy systems to the cloud. These assets can vary from business to business, but common examples include databases, IT resources, apps, and services. Migration can be partial, or it can involve moving everything. 

Why it matters?

If you’re still using a legacy system, the likelihood is that much of your tech is outdated, inefficient, or unsuitable for operating in the era of digital transformation. This outdated infrastructure may include aging servers, unreliable firewalls, and other hardware or software that’s past its sell-by date.

In the modern marketplace, customers typically choose organizations that are up-to-date and incorporate the latest tech and apps into their business practices. 

In addition, operating from the cloud can help reduce costs while improving efficiency and productivity. 

Cloud migration vs cloud-native

A graph showing the cloud computing and hosting market size over time.

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Moving to the cloud is like many journeys, even if you’ve had a destination in mind, you might not be sure of the route. Businesses know cloud-based computing is where they want (and often need) to be, but they may not know how to get there. 

There can be some hesitancy too. Organizations may have invested a lot of money in their existing infrastructure and may see any change as akin to losing that investment. They need to understand what benefits the cloud can bring and how, over time, this will actually save them money. 

Organizations have two main options when it comes to digital modernization: they can adopt a cloud-native approach or they can choose cloud migration. 

Below, we compare the two.

Cloud migration

This strategy involves migrating your current infrastructure and IT assets to the cloud. By duplicating your existing resources and services using your chosen cloud provider, you should be able to minimize disruption. 

There are various ways to achieve cloud migration, but it isn't always possible to migrate every resource. Resources that might be impossible to migrate include some security and access management assets. Knowing which resources can be migrated successfully and which can’t is an essential part of your planning. 

You want your migration process to have as little impact on your business operation as possible. To achieve this, your IT experts will usually process assets from your current data centers to the cloud environment of your provider. This can be done using tools, such as the Amazon Web Services Connector for vCenter, or manually. 

Cloud-native 

Another option is to go cloud-native. This is where apps, architecture, and other infrastructure are specifically designed to operate in a cloud environment. This usually means either using recently designed tools or updating and adapting older ones to work with cloud technology. 

This may mean abandoning or redesigning many (if not all) of your current services, so you need to look closely at how well these work and what improvements and benefits might come from switching to a cloud-native approach. Importantly, will cloud-native architecture offer you similar or better functionality than your current systems? 

Something to consider is whether a hosted cloud version of a product will meet the needs of your enterprise and applications. With cloud-native solutions, you can still host your own services, but you can also use automation and APIs to ensure you have the functionalities you need. 

Challenges and risks of cloud-native architecture migration

A pie chart showing the biggest challenge for organizations expanding their use of DevOps.

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As with any changes to your work processes, there are challenges and risks to cloud migration. Understanding these and knowing how to mitigate them is a crucial part of planning a successful digital transformation. 

Strategy

The need for a clearly defined strategy is one of the first challenges you’ll face. A good strategy allows you to plan every aspect of your cloud transformation and is one of the biggest factors in determining its success. 

Look carefully at every application, service, dataset, etc, that you still want to use, and plan how to migrate or duplicate them in the cloud. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution, and your strategy should identify potential issues and how to face them. 

Managing costs 

Having a clear idea of your budget and where savings will be made post-migration is also helpful. Identify the KPIs that you will use to track spending and savings. This will allow you to gain a clearer idea of the impact of migration from a financial perspective. 

These KPIs will be the benchmark for the success of your completed migration. Being able to see where savings have been made (and, conversely, if any costs have increased) should be an integral part of your strategy. 

Lock-ins

This can be a common challenge for companies that are new to cloud computing. Don’t be in a rush to use the first provider you come across. While packages may initially look attractive and offer a wide range of services, you may find some of these services aren’t transferable if you later change providers. 

Migrating workloads can be both costly and time-consuming, and if you find your chosen provider isn’t as good as you expected, you may discover that changing to another is an unnecessarily complicated matter. This is one reason why businesses may choose hybrid integration over complete cloud migration. 

Security 

Depending on the sector you operate in, you may handle confidential data that’s subject to certain laws and regulatory requirements. Thus, compliance and security are two major challenges you’ll face when migrating to the cloud. 

It’s worth noting that, while many providers offer robust security to clients, it’s your organization’s responsibility to configure any security measures for your specific needs and to ensure apps and services meet the required regulatory levels. 

It’s also worth pointing out that you need to carefully monitor the migration process itself, as this can present a lot of security risks. 

Cloud-native transformation and migration best practices

Ten cloud-native transformation and migration best practices.

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If you’ve made the decision to move into the future with the cloud, knowing how to approach your transformation will help you avoid any pitfalls during the process.

Make a migration plan

Step one is to make a plan. This involves a complete audit of your current services, which will allow you to identify your needs along with where you want to be post-migration. 

Having a clear snapshot of your current situation will help you plan your migration process as well as evaluate its success once completed. It will also help you decide if a cloud-native hybrid approach might suit your needs better. 

Your audit should include how much machine data your services generate and the connections between services, applications, users, etc. 

Analytics can help you in your evaluation and highlight the post-migration benefits. 

Track the efficiency of the application

You want an idea of how well your business is performing pre- and post-migration. Monitoring the efficiency of any applications you’re using, firstly in your existing legacy system and then in your new cloud-based system, is a major part of evaluating how well the migration has worked. 

This will allow you to identify any issues or inefficiencies that exist before and after migration. Observe how your resources work and how well applications perform so that you can see where changes need to be made. 

Verify cloud security

As security is of the utmost importance, this is an area that always needs to be approached with great care. You want your data and other resources to be safe, both during the migration process and after it’s been completed. 

This is another before-and-after scenario; identifying any current vulnerabilities will allow you to remove them as you migrate. It’s also important to pay close attention to possible vulnerabilities during the migration itself, as this can be a risky time.

Machine data can play a central role in the security of your resources at every stage in the migration process, and analytics and machine learning can help you identify any potential vulnerabilities. 

Ensure adherence

There’s a good chance that any data you hold is subject to laws or regulations at the state or federal level. Non-compliance with these laws—or a security breach—could end with you facing civil or criminal penalties.

Look at setting up baselines driven by your machine data before the migration process begins—this will give you evidence of adherence for future audits. 

You should also look at the security measures provided by potential cloud vendors. While the configuration of these measures is your responsibility, knowing what you’re working with is a huge help. 

Set important KPIs

You’ll already be using KPIs to measure various aspects of your business performance. Expand the use of these to track and monitor important aspects of the migration. 

These KPIs could be related to cost savings over time or the operational efficiency of the applications and services you use, but they must be relevant to your organization. This will allow you to see how things improve post-migration. 

Try to choose KPIs that show the differences in performance between your legacy system and your later cloud-based operations. 

Benchmark and seek to improve

To see if and how things have improved, you need to set benchmarks. These are the minimum levels of functionality and efficiency you’ll accept. The emphasis here should be on ‘minimum’. 

Once you’ve set these, you should constantly be striving to meet and improve upon them. 

Codify monitoring workflows

The machine data you generate and collect can supply you with valuable information about users, stakeholders, and customers. Cloud technology allows you to leverage this information in real-time, so you can make adjustments where needed. 

By codifying your monitoring workflows, you can bring together relevant data and transform it into shareable and actionable files. 

Ensure interoperability and data portability

Many businesses, especially larger ones, use a multi-cloud approach, for example, a combination of private and public clouds. If this is the case for your business, use cloud services to ensure the interoperability and portability of your data. You want all your data, no matter where it’s generated or stored, to be transformed into real-time analytics with complete visibility. 

The benefits of leveraging a cloud-native migration approach for your business

If you think that cloud-native migration is a good choice for your business, these benefits might be what you need to persuade the rest of your C-suite. 

Increased flexibility and agility

Depending on your needs and the infrastructure you have, the finite limitations that legacy systems usually have can prevent your growth.

Once you migrate to the cloud, you’ll find you have virtually limitless flexibility and scalability (both up and down) that meets the requirements of your business. 

Ability to innovate more quickly

Technology and business demands can both change rapidly, and you want to be able to meet this quickly and efficiently. 

After cloud migration, you’ll find you can innovate at speed, whether that involves modernizing existing apps and tools or introducing new ones. 

Reduced resource demands

Older legacy systems can be unwieldy and place a high demand on your existing resources. 

Once you’re cloud-based, you’ll find workflows and processes are more streamlined and require less time, energy, and cost. 

Improved customer expectation management

Your customers expect the best, and it can be a real challenge to provide this when operating with a legacy system. 

One major benefit of cloud migration is that you can manage customer expectations better and improve satisfaction. Better storage of customer data and a more flexible platform that can develop and deploy more applications are just two of the benefits that can improve customer experience.

Reduced costs

 Benefits of cloud migration.

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This can be a major factor when companies decide to move to the cloud. 

By essentially removing the costs of maintaining bulky architecture and infrastructure (or software), which frequently need updating or fixing, you’ll save money. 

Once you move to the cloud, you’ll also only pay for the resources and services you use, which will increase your savings even more. 

Quick business results

You’ll be surprised at how quickly you see improvements in your business results. The cloud allows you to take advantage of new tech as it appears, which can give your business a competitive edge. 

Increased scalability and flexibility also mean you can better meet the needs of your customers. 

Simplify IT

Legacy systems can be complex and unwieldy as well as more susceptible to technical issues, which lead to costly downtime. 

Migrating to the cloud simplifies your IT needs, and you’ll find your provider takes responsibility for most of the infrastructure. Some will even guarantee no downtime. 

Change to an all-as-service model

With so many cloud-based services available, the idea of shifting to an ‘everything-as-a-service’ model seems a logical step to make. 

By consolidating all your services under one model, you can reduce costs while improving operational efficiency in every area. 

Experience a hassle-free cloud-native migration with OpenLegacy

The risks of cloud migration. 

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OpenLegacy is an ideal choice if you’re considering migrating to the cloud. Cloud modernization isn’t only more common, it is a necessity for businesses that want to remain competitive in today’s marketplace. 

OpenLegacy understands that migration can be challenging and helps you cut through the complexity by integrating and migrating your existing services to the cloud environment you prefer. It can cut out middleware and additional runtime so your migration is smooth and painless. 

With OpenLegacy, you’ll find integration and migration are easy. Your current app architecture will be matched, so that your integration is flat and de-layered, and all your integration points will be fully optimized. Fault tolerance will be fully managed, and log analysis will be made available in case recoverability is required. 

 


 

FAQs on cloud-native migration

What is a cloud-native database?

A cloud-native database is a database that operates in a cloud environment and uses its full functionality. 

With this type of database, you don’t own any of the software or infrastructure and are not responsible for its maintenance (this belongs to the cloud provider).

How do you mitigate risk in cloud migration?

There are various ways to mitigate risk, including the following: 

  • Have a well-thought-out strategy, especially during the migration itself
  • Apply all necessary configuration settings
  • Have clearly defined roles and access permissions
  • Segregate your cloud resources by priority
  • Have robust data security controls 
  • Implement (and frequently change) cryptographic keys
  • Use only trusted templates
  • Audit security measures regularly 

What are the top reasons cloud migrations fail?

There are five main reasons for cloud migration failure:

  • Poor planning
  • Choosing the wrong migration approach
  • Migrating too fast (or too big)
  • Lack of testing and monitoring
  • Teams being unprepared for migration

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