How to facilitate Cloud migrations
Blog //31-05-2022

How to facilitate Cloud migrations

by Amanda Grant, Chief Product Officer

Understanding what Cloud migration is, how it is beneficial to your business, and the complexities of making it happen will enable you to decide what is the best strategy to achieve a smooth transition.

The global pandemic spurred more and more companies to shift to the Cloud, reinvent their offerings, and become more cost-efficient, agile, and innovative in how they do business. As an on-demand, self-service environment, the Cloud is a critical part of achieving end-to-end digital transformation with the purpose of helping businesses overcome future uncertainty, such as economic slowdowns.

It is important to remember that Cloud migration is not just about moving to the Cloud; it’s an iterative process of optimising to reduce costs and gain full utilisation of it.

This process impacts all the organisational aspects of a business, including people, day-to-day operations, processes, and technology. With a clear Cloud migration plan alongside flexible consumption and pricing models, a seamless migration to the Cloud can provide high scalability, agility, and remote work, while providing cost savings in the long run.

The good news is that today, Cloud migration processes are easier to achieve than ever before. Read on to find out more.

What is Cloud migration?

So, you’re in the process of adopting a new Cloud accounting software system to replace your outdated and increasingly inefficient legacy accounting infrastructure.

The next step is to carry out a successful Cloud migration of your business’s financial data.

This involves the process of moving some or all of your business’s digital assets, services, databases, IT resources, and applications either partially, or entirely, into the Cloud. It is then usually run on a Cloud-based infrastructure provided by a Cloud service provider such as Advanced.

As successful Cloud migration is critical for achieving real-time and updated performance and efficiency, the process requires careful planning, analysis and execution to ensure your Cloud software solution's compatibility with your business requirements.

What to consider when migrating to the Cloud

Cloud migrations can be complex and risky. For example, if you are working within a short migration timeframe, it can be easy to cut corners and rush to get your data migrated into the Cloud so that business can carry on as usual. But in the process, you encounter security breaches to sensitive financial data which puts the migration on hold and causes delays to the finance teams’ day-to-day work.

So, before you jump off into the deep end, take a step back to consider some of the potential challenges when preparing to transition your resources to the Cloud.

Cost management considerations

When migrating to the Cloud, it’s important to set clear KPIs to understand what you plan to spend, and what costs you want to save on after the migration. From an economic point of view, this is a clear way to measure and understand if the migration was successful. Bear in mind that Cloud environments are dynamic, and costs can quickly change as new services are adopted and your application usage grows.

Vendor lock-in

Vendor lock-in is a common problem for businesses looking to adopt Cloud technology. This is because Cloud providers offer a large variety of services, yet many of them cannot be extended to other legacy or Cloud platforms. Migrating volumes of data from an on-premise infrastructure to the Cloud is a lengthy and costly process. Many organisations make the mistake of starting to use Cloud services without issue, yet later find it difficult to switch software providers if their current provider doesn’t suit their business requirements.

Data security and compliance

One of the most crucial obstacles to Cloud migration for any organisation is data security and compliance. The way Cloud services work is through a shared responsibility model in which they take responsibility for securing the infrastructure, and the organisation is responsible for securing data and workloads. This means while your Cloud provider may provide robust security measures, it is your organisation’s responsibility to configure them correctly and ensure that all services and applications have the appropriate security controls. The migration process itself presents security risks, as transferring large volumes of financial or sensitive data while configuring access controls for applications across different environments creates significant exposure which can be compromised by cyber criminals and hackers if they find a window of opportunity.

The process of a Cloud migration

The Cloud migration journey is different for every business. As it depends on business size, the current technology being used and what data needs to be transferred, it’s clear that there is no one-size-fits-all migration plan blueprint.

As each asset to be migrated has its own cost, performance, and complexity, you cannot simply migrate all assets to the cloud with the same method. A Cloud migration roadmap will help you determine what, how, and in what order to move these components.

Ensure that the foundations of your Cloud migration are strong by creating a well-thought-out plan to keep the process error-free and seamless.

Here are the three main Cloud migration steps:

1. Define your strategy

Taking advantage of the Cloud is much more than just a technical exercise; it must be based on business objectives-specific goals the organisation wants to achieve. Defining your strategy and creating your business case is all about answering the question, “How will moving to the Cloud benefit our business and bring value?” This will help you develop a Cloud migration strategy and the business case for the move. A key element of that strategy is determining which applications will be migrated, and to which types of Cloud environments, as well as what the infrastructure should ultimately look like.

Some apps, like those with variable load, being public facing with global reach, or due for a near-term upgrade, should be moved to the Cloud. While others should not which includes those that are too risky or difficult to migrate, or ones that may not provide a return on investment. Knowing the difference at the outset is vital to a successful Cloud migration.

2. Carry out an assessment

While businesses expect improved flexibility, cost, and control once migrated into the Cloud, it’s crucial to assess how your applications might perform due to significant infrastructure changes before you make the move.

The first step in determining whether a business should migrate to the cloud is to comprehend its current state through discovery and assessment. This includes scanning and assessing its existing infrastructure, applications, and data landscape to identify and assess its current architecture and determine the best types of data and applications to migrate.

Through application discovery, dependency mapping, and risk assessments based on current usage, as well as optional pre-migration predictive analysis, having a clear Cloud migration assessment in place enables those involved in the Cloud migration processes to make informed decisions which in turn helps to minimise risk while ensuring service level agreements are maintained after Cloud migration.

3. Start migrating assets to the Cloud

The heavy lifting occurs in this phase as it typically involves retrofitting existing applications for the Cloud, building new Cloud-native applications, and reorganising architecture and infrastructure. The aim here is to ultimately create an entirely new technological operating model and culture that will enable your business to innovate more quickly, efficiently, and effectively.

To execute a smooth migration, automated management and migration tools are essential because they help speed the transition as well as deliver high quality, consistency, and repeatability. As they are paired with specialised skills and solution accelerators, they form a Cloud migration factory that can accelerate the effort even further. Having a strong plan for managing the Cloud migration journey is also critical in this phase.

Common Cloud migration strategies

When considering your Cloud migration strategy, it's important to keep in mind that it's not just about getting there; it's also about what you do when you are there. In short, you need to focus more on the journey, not just the destination itself.

Here are the 6 Rs of Cloud migration strategy to help you figure out your next steps:

Rehost

Ideal for:

  • Enterprises new to the Cloud
  • Carrying out large-scale migrations
  • When you’re facing time-constraints or a set migration deadline
  • Off-the-shelf applications migration

If you’re looking to move your on-premise finance database onto the Cloud with minimal upfront effort, then rehosting is ideal. It’s one of the easiest and quickest Cloud migration strategies and is especially well-adapted for large-scale migrations. What’s more, it improves speed and performance of the Cloud at a lower cost.

Also known as the “life and shift” pattern, this strategy transfers your data assets from an on-premise infrastructure onto your new Cloud infrastructure.  To achieve Cloud maturity, rehosting can be automated using tools such as CloudEndure Migration and AWS VM Import/Export. However, you can also implement rehosting manually.

While these numerous benefits are available, some features, such as ephemeral compute and autoscaling, may not be fully available. For instance, legacy applications that require a lot of resources and are not compatible with Cloud environments can have latency issues as well.

Refactor

Ideal for:

  • There’s a strong business drive to enhance performance, speed and scalability
  • The application will reap most of the benefits from the Cloud
  • On-premise apps are not compatible with the Cloud

Refactor strategy, also referred to as re-architect, is the method of rewriting your applications from scratch so that they are compatible with the Cloud. Using this strategy, you can leverage Cloud-native technologies such as microservices architecture, serverless, containers, function-as-a-service, and load balancing. Moving your digital assets from an on-premise architecture to a fully serverless architecture in the Cloud allows you to refactor them. Even in the most competitive markets, these refactored applications are scalable, agile, efficient, and provide solid ROI over time.

You may face challenges with lacking Cloud skills, delivering complex projects and programs, or potentially experiencing significant business interruption. It is important to prioritise smaller portions of your on-premise application as microservices, and then refactor them, as well as allowing the legacy applications to run on-premise while you rebuild in the Cloud. Although this approach is the most expensive, resource-intensive, and time-consuming of the options, it is the most rewarding in the long run.

Replatform

Ideal for:

  • Required to migrate within a shorter timeline
  • When you’re looking to leverage the benefits of the Cloud without refactoring the apps
  • Migrating a complex on-premises app with minor tweaks to reap the benefits of the Cloud

A modernised version of rehosting, the “lift, tinker and shift” replatform strategy allows you to make configural changes to the apps to better suit the Cloud perform without changing their core architecture

This approach is commonly applied by developers to change the way apps interact with the database so they can run on managed platforms like Google CloudSQL or Amazon RDS.

Remember, it’s important that you review your Cloud migration project in intervals to rule out any unnecessary changes, so it doesn’t convert into a complete refactor.

Repurchase

Ideal for:

  • Standard functions like finance, accounting, ERP, CRM, CMS etc. are being replaced
  • Your legacy app is not compatible with Cloud environments

The Repurchase strategy, also referred to as "drop and shop," involves replacing on-premise software with a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution with the same functionality. This newer, upgraded Cloud version offers improved efficiency, lower costs of app storage, and reduced maintenance costs.

An example of this is if you needed to move from an on-premise CRM to Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics. This method is simple, fast, and eliminates a lot of migration effort. A repurchase might present challenges such as training your staff or vendor lock-in, because SaaS platforms provide limited customisability and control compared to your on-premise custom solution.

Retain

Ideal for:

  • If you have adopted or looking to adopt a hybrid Cloud model during migration
  • Heavily invested on-premise applications
  • The application will require revisiting at a later date
  • Your legacy app is not compatible with the Cloud and works well with an on-premise set-up

The retain strategy entails revisiting some critical applications/portions of your digital assets that need significant refactoring before migrating them to the Cloud. The goal is to determine if there are some applications that are more suited to on-premise arrangements or have been upgraded and should be retained, such as applications with latency requirements, compliance or regulatory restrictions.

Businesses often use retainer technologies for hybrid Cloud deployments to ensure business continuity during long-term migrations that can take several years, as they offer the benefits of the Cloud while keeping critical workloads and confidential data on-premise.

Retire

Ideal for:

  • You decide to refactor or repurchase an app
  • If apps are redundant or obsolete
  • Your legacy app isn’t compatible with the Cloud and no longer provides productive value

In the ‘retire’ strategy, you get rid of applications no longer needed or productive. A cloud-based application that isn't worth migrating can either be eliminated or downsized; this allows you to examine how your applications are used, how they depend on one another, and how much they cost your company.

Consider the following when retiring applications during Cloud migration:

  • If existing applications contain useful data, archive them
  • Identify applications which duplicate capabilities and retire them to cut costs
  • Retire applications that have functionality which can be added to through microservices

Although it sounds straightforward, decommissioning apps is a complex process and critical to deciding which apps to retire. It should be done early in the planning process so that you can migrate pivotal applications or services, reduce the number of applications to migrate, and save resources.

Make your migration to the Cloud as easy as 1,2,3 with Advanced

Cloud migrations can be a complex process as they contain a lot of moving parts. This is especially true for large organisations looking to move and synchronise massive volumes of financial and sensitive data.

So, it comes as no surprise that it can be overwhelming for CFOs and finance professionals who are looking to migrate from on-site legacy accounting software to the Cloud.

Built with the vision of giving finance teams the ability to focus on strategy and performance, Advanced Financials provides rich, robust financial management functionality in a simplified, slick platform. It provides finance teams with instant access to financial data at the heart of their system which helps to drive business agility and decision making. 

At Advanced, we have successfully processed 2.5+ billion lines of code through its solutions and completed over 500 modernisation projects worldwide for customers that span all industries including The New York Times, FedEx and the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). 

Our AWS Mainframe Migration Competency status means we are a AWS Partner with a track record of success and deep domain expertise in migrating mainframe workloads.

Get in touch, and find out how we can help you with your Cloud migration journey.

Advanced Financials Cloud Blog Guide Financial Management Financial Services
Amanda Grant

Amanda Grant

PUBLISHED BY

Chief Product Officer

Amanda joined Advanced in 2018 and was promoted to CPO in 2019 following a successful stint as Product Strategy Director, being responsible for the correct investment decisions.

Read published articles