Blue dots forming an abstract cloud

The seven Rs of cloud migration: Part one

Explore the pros, cons, and best practices of seven cloud migration options, starting with Re-host and Re-locate

October 26 2021Nico Herzhauser

Navigating your journey to the cloud successfully

Welcome to this three-part blog series on migrating your applications to the cloud. With numerous strategic, economic, resource, and technical considerations, the start of your cloud migration journey can be exciting and daunting in equal measure.

But the path to the cloud is well-trodden, with Mordor Intelligence predicting that the cloud migration services market will rise to rise to $444.34 billion by 2026. So, there are valuable lessons to be gained from those who have walked this path before.

What are the seven Rs?

Finger points to a cloud

The seven Rs build on the five Rs originally identified by Gartner in 2010. Today, the common cloud migration methods, as defined by AWS are:

  • Refactor/re-architect – move an application and modify its architecture
  • Replatform – move and optimize an application to leverage the cloud’s capabilities
  • Repurchase – swap for a different product, typically to a SaaS model
  • Rehost – known as ‘lift and shift’ – move with no changes
  • Relocate – hypervisor-level lift and shift, specific to VMware Cloud on AWS
  • Retain – keep the application in its source environment to revisit later
  • Retire – decommission or remove the application

I’ll take a deeper dive into each of these options throughout this blog series.

Start with your why

Before considering which cloud migration option is the best fit for your organization’s circumstances, it’s vital to collaborate with your stakeholders to agree on your cloud strategy. In some businesses, this can mean changing how you think about the cloud. Fundamentally, your cloud strategy should be an enabler of your business strategy. In some smaller and mid-sized businesses, technology-related decisions are confined to the IT team. Unless they have an intimate and comprehensive understanding of your organization’s challenges and drivers, there is a risk that your cloud strategy becomes misaligned and won’t support your long-term ambitions.  

So, be clear on why you are moving to the cloud, your priorities, and specifically, what outcomes you expect and when. Further, it’s common to refer to a cloud execution plan as a cloud strategy, even at an enterprise level. They are discrete elements; creating your strategy first will ensure all parties are oriented in the right direction.  

What is Re-hosting to the cloud? 

In our experience helping hundreds of organizations with their cloud journey, Re-hosting, also termed ‘lift and shift,’ is the most common migration method. 

Re-hosting involves moving an application from a on-premises environment (e.g., one running on bare metal or in a traditional data center) to a cloud environment. The application (or service) is moved as-is to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). 

View Re-hosting as a relatively straightforward, first phase of your migration. You can then improve your applications to leverage the benefits of their new cloud environment.  

For example:

  • Scalability – the cloud flexes to meet your requirements
  • Agility – adapt and respond to changing needs to drive innovation
  • Cost – pay only for what you use and create cost transparency
  • Performance – gain from cutting-edge tools in a modern environment
  • Security – benefit from your cloud provider’s built-in features
  • Back up and disaster recovery – limit operational downtime and prevent data loss
  • Data integrity – maintain secure and compliant data

The pros and cons of Re-hosting

The reason why Re-hosting is so popular is that it wins on two counts: time and skills. Other pros include:

  • Re-hosting is the fastest of all migration methods
  • As it’s the least complex option, it requires less skill
  • Ideal for organizations in a hurry to realize the benefits of the cloud - perhaps because of regulatory demands, or those with stretched technical resources
  • Given your knowledge of your applications, if something goes awry in their new environment, your familiarity will help you trace the source of the issue more efficiently  

What are the potential disadvantages?

  • Until you optimize your applications, you will be missing out on efficiency and productivity gains, although you may deem this acceptable in the short term 
  • There is a risk that some of your legacy applications may not perform in the cloud as you expected

If your applications are business-critical, continuous data replication can mitigate the risk and create some breathing space.

What is Re-locating to the cloud?

Four People watching at the same computer screen.

The Re-locate migration method is like re-host but is specifically for organizations that run their on-premises IT on VMware. VMware Cloud on AWS allows you to move a suite of applications quickly, making it ideal for those working to tight time frames. Re-locate can also refer to moving from one cloud provider to AWS.

During the coronavirus crisis, a German public sector organization was required to establish a digital payment solution to help thousands of businesses requiring urgent financial assistance. Shortly before the final load test by developers, it became worryingly apparent that the intended local operating platform would be unable to withstand the expected rush.

Our AWS specialists co-created a software-defined data center (SDDC) in 30 hours with three hosts, offering a complete VMware stack with computing, storage, and network resources. The SDDC uses bare metal servers at AWS, available exclusively to the organization. One notable result was a 400 percent performance gain for the web service.

Get more Insights from the AWS Transformation Day

AWS‘s annual event for IT and business decision-makers – the AWS Transformation Day -took place on November 10 2021, and T-Systems was one of the main speakers. The event showcased strategic insights and learnings from leaders who have migrated to the cloud.      

Our Solutions Architect, Nico Herzhauser, led the T-Systems partner session at the event. He discussed Deutsche Telekom’s plan to migrate 60 percent of its applications to the cloud by the end of 2022 or make them available as cloud-native apps.  

Read more and watch the recording of the AWS Transformation Day. Feel free to find out more in parts two and three of this complimentary blog series.

About the author

Nico Herzhauser

Solutions Architect, T-Systems International GmbH

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