The cloud is evolving every day; but, despite its growth, many companies still hesitate to migrate to the cloud. And the reason behind this? It’s usually complications occurring before and after implementation that prevent most companies from moving their workloads to the cloud. In some cases, it’s even a lack of knowledge and skills on how to migrate effectively. To avoid these challenges and make optimum use of the cloud, companies, today, turn to automation. Indeed, automated application migration is the most reliable way to accelerate the migration journey to the cloud, with the minimum amount of errors.
What is automated application migration?
In simple terms, automated application migration is the process of moving on-premise applications to the cloud; or from one cloud to another. To enable this transfer, companies employ processes and tools that help automate manual tasks — often associated with the allocation of resources and the management of cloud workloads.
In contrast to the traditional cloud migration process, automated application migration helps resolve issues, namely:
- time-consuming tasks,
- data loss or downtime
- error-prone manual labor,
- decreased productivity, and
- lack of cloud knowledge — and/or skill shortage.
Indeed, with automation taking the wheel in the migration process, companies minimize manual efforts and make the most out of technology to achieve efficiency.
How does automated application migration work?
Migrating applications to the cloud includes a long list of manual processes. As mentioned, automation comes into the picture to simplify and accelerate the process; and, of course, minimize the possibility of human error.
Below, we briefly explain how automated application migration works, in five general steps. These steps, at the same time, comprise a list of best practices for achieving a successful application migration.
1. Defining the goals
The first step to setting up an effective automated application migration is identifying the business goals behind this initiative. The next step is to map these goals so that they can be used as a basis for the planning phase of the migration. Naturally, the stakeholders need to be involved here.
2. Assessing and preparing for the migration
Every company needs to assess its applications, resources and IT infrastructure to prepare the ground for the migration. Doing so will shed light on whether the company is able to move its workloads to the cloud, or not. During this step, IT teams can also gain a better picture of the:
- Applications and their components
- Application health and performance
- Dependencies and integrations
- Technical requirements
- Security policies
- Tools used to manage role-based access, etc.
In this regard, the assessment step allows companies to specify which applications are ready to move to the cloud, and which aren’t. Also, where automation is suitable, and where it’s not. Only then can companies start designing the migration plan properly.
3. Planning the migration
Migrating to the cloud successfully requires a well-structured plan. Without one, the whole migration project may fail. That’s why it’s critical to pay special attention to this step. So, where do companies start planning? They start visualizing the final result; yet, to get there, there are many factors to be considered.
During this step, companies start mapping their existing functionality, while considering their business goals, and the applications’ assessment results. On one hand, this information from the previous steps will help them spot potential conflicts and complications. On the other hand, it will enable them to identify all the tools, processes and resources they’re going to need to carry through with the project.
Tools are especially important in automation-driven application migration as they help automate the transfer of applications without complications. They also enable teams to apply DevOps automation practices that are necessary here.
4. Choosing the optimal migration strategy
This is another critical step of the migration journey, where companies are called to choose the optimal migration strategy for them. Based on the planning phase that preceded, they start reviewing the available migration strategies. To illustrate, the most widely-followed migration paths include:
- Rehosting (lift-and-shift) – Moving the application as is, without — or with minimal — changes in the code
- Replatforming (lift-tinker-and-shift) – Making minor changes and optimizations
- Refactoring or re-architecting – Recoding parts of the application and/or deploying new architecture
- Repurchasing – Replacing the application, usually with a third-party cloud-based solution
- Retaining – Deciding not to migrate the application, after all
- Retiring – Deciding to make the application obsolete
Choosing a strategy is a prerequisite for automated application migrations that enables companies to conduct the process within defined, predictable time-windows. The right migration method will indeed simplify and speed up the migration. Furthermore, it will help avoid unnecessary costs from technical disruptions and human error.
5. Testing, migrating, and fine-tuning
When everything is ready for migration, companies run over a set of functional, integration, and performance tests. The objectives of these tests are to:
- Get familiar with the cloud implementation process
- Make sure that everything works as expected
- Migrate the application workload, as planned — following the chosen strategy
- Compare the on-premise & cloud behavior of the application
- Predict the expected downtime
- Resolve issues
- Fine-tune and repeat as needed.
Automating the application migration process, from the get-go
In the past few years, cloud adoption has become easier and faster than ever, thanks to automated application migration. With automation tools and processes doing all the ‘heavy lifting’ companies and their IT teams can speed up the migration while reducing unexpected — which often translates into ‘undesired’ — occurrences. This way, they can prevent downtime, ensure data integrity, and optimize resource allocation.
As a closing note, it’s worth bearing in mind that automation works best when applied to the migration process, from the get-go. The more automated the application migration process becomes over time, the more value a company will eventually get from the cloud.