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Migrating to AWS is one of the biggest shifts an organization can make. Here are 7 migration strategies you can use to streamline the process.
Many companies don’t know where to begin when migrating to AWS. Some worry their data will leak, while others don't know the most efficient migration strategy for AWS. Another group worries about overspending when moving to AWS.
The migration strategy involved plays a crucial part in all of these concerns.
This guide will discuss more than just AWS cloud migration strategies. It'll also discuss why you may want to move to AWS, the challenges you may face when migrating, and which method to adopt for what use cases.
Table Of Contents
An AWS migration refers to the mass transfer of workloads from an on-premises environment, private cloud, or public cloud to AWS's public cloud infrastructure. Besides moving applications, databases, and data centers, you can also migrate websites and virtual servers.
AWS provides the most extensive cloud infrastructure in today's market, beating both Azure Cloud Service and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), which are second and third, respectively. It also provides a ton of experience in cloud infrastructure management than most. But that’s not all.
AWS benefits include:
With so many advantages over the competition, you might want to migrate to AWS immediately. But why don't all companies migrate to the cloud — or AWS, for that matter?
That's because it can be challenging.
Moving to the cloud step-by-step is challenging for many companies. It requires meticulous pre-planning, expertise, monitoring, and transferring massive amounts of data securely, quickly, and without service disruptions.
These are some more cloud migration challenges, some of which are specific to AWS migrations:
By anticipating and preparing for these challenges before migration, your team will be better prepared to handle them.
Still, deciding on the actual migration strategy remains a challenge. So the next section will cover each of the seven R's of an AWS migration, explaining what they are, benefits, limitations, and when to use each.
The seven common AWS cloud migration strategies are Rehosting, Replatforming, Repurchasing, Refactoring, Retiring, and Retaining operations. Gartner introduced the first 5Rs of cloud migration in 2011. Over time, that evolved into the 6R's, which recently advanced to the 7R's
Credit: AWS migration readiness
Here is how each of those compares in terms of AWS migration readiness.
Retiring means decommissioning workloads you no longer need in your existing environment.
The first step is to discover all your workloads within your source environment. After evaluating each, you can decide which are still helpful and turn off or remove those you no longer need.
What are the benefits of the retire AWS migration strategy?
What are the risks of retiring?
When workloads are archived prematurely, they can introduce compatibility, or performance issues, which later may cost more to fix. Conducting a thorough cloud suitability assessment during pre-planning may prevent this potential mistake.
When to retire applications
Identify any redundancies you will no longer require after migrating to AWS, from workloads, processes, and tools, to backup solutions. Shutting them down can have immediate cost savings.
Otherwise, migrating redundant workloads to AWS could result in soaring cloud costs.
The retain strategy refers to maintaining workloads on-premises with a plan to revisit them later for further decision-making. For example, a legacy but mission-critical application might have an unsupported operating system or other components that are difficult to integrate into AWS infrastructure. You'd need to run it on-premises while you decide what to do next.
What are the benefits of retaining as an AWS migration strategy?
What are the disadvantages of retaining strategy?
When to use retaining strategy
A 2021 O'Reilly's survey found 55% of IT pros chose to keep applications in their local data centers due to security, cost, compliance, inadequate cloud management skills, and other reasons.
Furthermore, according to another survey, these are the same reasons companies cite for adopting hybrid cloud strategies (hosting workloads both on cloud and on-premises).
Most cloud adopters do not move all their workloads to the cloud.
So, retaining is ideal if:
There is also the option of relocation if retaining workloads is not what you seek.
Using VMware Cloud on AWS, you can move infrastructure to the public cloud without the need to rewrite application code, buy new hardware, or alter existing operations.
Organizations who use VMware as their on-premises data center can create a virtual data center using the same vSphere building blocks in VMware Cloud. As a result, it becomes possible to move servers without affecting the workloads running on them.
What are the benefits of relocating as an AWS migration strategy?
What are the disadvantages of the relocation strategy?
When to use a relocate migration strategy?
The migration method is unique to VMware Cloud on AWS.
What if you don't currently use VMware or prefer a more AWS-integrated solution? Consider rehosting.
AWS rehosting means moving an on-premises application and its dependencies to AWS, as is or with minimal changes.
Here is a comprehensive guide to lift and shift or rehosting migration. It discusses how to rehost applications in the cloud, examples of lift and shift migrations, and the best use cases for rehosting.
There are several reasons why lift and shift is the most popular migration strategy across the board.
What are the benefits of rehosting or lift and shift AWS migration?
What are the disadvantages of rehosting?
When to use the lift and shift or rehosting strategy
A lift and shift strategy is ideal for organizations that have to move quickly to the cloud without spending a lot of time, money, or talent changing an existing system. This may also be an ideal option for adopters who want to start using some cloud functions immediately while planning to make more extensive changes in the future.
Repurchasing aims to replace an on-premises solution with a cloud-first alternative. Often, the solution is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution available in the AWS Marketplace.
Dropping your custom email system for an email-as-a-service system like Gmail, replacing a self-run CRM with a Salesforce subscription, or adopting Asana for team collaboration are examples of repurchase migrations.
What are the benefits of repurposing as an AWS migration strategy?
What are the disadvantages of repurchasing?
When to use repurchasing
Drop and shop when you want to utilize cloud-native capabilities without building the system yourself or from scratch.
Replatforming means modifying existing on-premises workloads to work optimally in the cloud while retaining much of their core architecture.
What are the benefits of replatforming as an AWS migration strategy?
What are the disadvantages of replatforming?
When to use replatforming to migrate
A replatforming approach is ideal for organizations that want to implement a cloud-first strategy in operations but are concerned about the risks of an all-out AWS migration, such as service disruption, opening up new security gaps, and overwhelming staff or users with entirely new procedures.
But perhaps you have tried rehosting and replatforming and haven't seen the full benefits of cloud computing. The following migration method may help.
Refactoring an application involves rebuilding it from scratch to support cloud-native capabilities. Re-architecting is the most resource-intensive of the seven options, but it is also the most rewarding, transformative, and future-proof.
Refactoring is one of "The Big Three AWS migration strategies", along with Rehosting (lift and shift) and Replatforming (lift, tinker, and shift).
What are the advantages of refactoring as an AWS migration strategy?
In the image, you can see how cloud spending should evolve for a successful re-architecting project. Initial refactoring costs increase, but they should decline over time. Cloud spending should also decrease unless you are experiencing rapid growth, which will require more cloud resources to support.
What are the disadvantages of refactoring?
When to use refactoring to migrate to AWS
Rebuilding requires a lot of resources and commitment. Use it where there is a strong business case for investing in cloud-native capabilities over the long run.
Moving to AWS can be challenging, particularly with no way to monitor progress or track costs in real-time. Poor visibility into migration costs makes it difficult for engineers to see the effects of their architectural choices, resulting in costly configurations.
Whichever AWS migration strategy you choose will have a cost impact. Yet, you don't want to make non-ideal decisions after moving because you invested too much upfront. The sunk cost fallacy is real.
CloudZero's Migration Cost Monitoring empowers you to monitor costs while you track migration progress in real-time. You can also track how your migration costs have changed over time. By doing so, you can catch trending costs before you overspend.
Additionally, CloudZero’s MAP Dashboard helps AWS MAP customers to track credits and tagging — in order to maximize discounts and understand savings.
CloudZero also alerts your team to unexpected costs via Slack so they can prevent migration costs from spiraling out of control. They can use these insights to identify which engineering decisions trigger overspending on cloud services and which ones result in cost-effective solutions.
CloudZero is the only solution that enables you to allocate 100% of your spend in hours — so you can align everyone around cost dimensions that matter to your business.