Moving workloads to the cloud is the process of taking existing workloads, making any necessary changes, and deploying them in the cloud.
Companies might do this for many reasons. Cloud platforms typically offer excellent cost-effectiveness, provide state-of-the-art resources, and are flexible with business needs.
To move existing workloads to the cloud, companies should target specific improvements. They might move data, IT resources or other digital assets, while many choose the cloud for advanced technologies like machine learning or internet of things (IoT).
As such, cloud adoption is part of the general modernisation of IT environments.
The Types of Cloud Workloads
There are several types of cloud workloads, each suitable for various business cases. Before migrating, it’s essential to fully understand your needs and select the right cloud services for your organisation.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS gives end users cloud-based services as an alternative to costly and time-consuming on-premises IT infrastructure. It provides on-demand computing resources over the internet, allowing companies to select combinations of compute power, storage and virtualisation that work for them. IaaS, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, is highly flexible and scalable.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS is a cloud platform service that provides infrastructure along with specific software. Often, developers use this software to create new applications. PaaS services, like AWS Elastic Beanstalk and Google App Engine, provide a flexible and cost-effective option for companies looking to build, test and deploy software quickly.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS is the most accessible of the cloud workloads. It’s made up of software – built in-house or by third parties – hosted on cloud infrastructure. SaaS solutions, like Office 365 and Salesforce, are highly scalable and simple to use, while workers can access SaaS from any connected device.
Hybrid cloud services
In a hybrid cloud setup, organisations run workloads across different infrastructures. Many companies choose a hybrid approach to combine on-premises private cloud workloads – that might be highly sensitive or regulated – with other workloads hosted on more cost-effective public cloud provider infrastructure.
A multi-cloud solution combines two or more cloud services. Unlike hybrid clouds, multi-cloud services can combine only public cloud infrastructures. Multi-clouds allow organisations to pick providers for specific tasks – for example, they might choose a particular supplier for low-latency data centre infrastructure with another for disaster recovery.
Serverless provides developers with the tools to run cloud applications while leaving server management to the provider. It is suitable for on-demand services, like chatbots, or event-triggered apps, like database management or file processing. Serverless is also low-cost as it can spend the majority of time inactive.
What are the main benefits of migrating to the cloud?
Moving applications to the cloud can be beneficial for many reasons.
- Cost: Cloud services can be highly cost-effective. With cloud computing, companies save on initial costs and only pay for what they use. By migrating IT infrastructure to public cloud service providers, it’s predicted that organisations can cut IT operating costs by up to half.
- Efficiency: Cloud providers handle the time-consuming tasks of infrastructure maintenance and updates. Connecting workloads and cloud-native services can also yield substantial efficiency gains, while 80 per cent of IT teams say that cloud solutions boost their productivity.
- Performance: Cloud environments allow companies to move workloads quickly and evolve when required. Cloud applications also dynamically respond to changes in bandwidth demand and moving data workloads, freeing staff to concentrate on more important tasks.
- Scalability: With cloud services, companies can more efficiently respond to demand by scaling up or down. Whether you need more compute resources or have changing needs based on application lifecycles, the cloud gives you the power to scale.
- User Experience: The cloud improves the user experience for IT teams, staff, and customers alike. From reduced downtime to unlimited data access, cloud services allow the digital transformation that meets the needs of global businesses.
What are the main cloud migration challenges?
Before starting their project, every organisation should consider several common cloud migration challenges. Not doing so can lead to unexpected results, unclear targets, and wasted efforts.
First, there must be a valid business reason for the migration. This might sound obvious, but a cloud migration should only take place if it improves a workload. Then, there should be a thorough plan for the entire migration – consider using automation, migration services and experienced providers when possible. Not carrying out this step risks failure from the start.
Businesses must also have a deep understanding of their definition of project success. What KPIs or targets will you work towards? Whether your cloud migration aims to create cost savings, improved performance, or a certain deliverable, a clear target will allow you to judge the project’s success. Not having KPIs can make success subjective and lead to conflict.
Finally, the migration process must ensure data security and compliance. Depending on your workload type, you might have full or shared responsibility for security – a thorough understanding of requirements will help you prevent risks.
While some cloud migrations can be complex, they have higher chances of success with a proper strategy.
Strategies of moving workloads to the cloud
Your cloud migration strategy will depend on your requirements and circumstances. There are many established strategies, most of which come from the Gartner 5 Rs.
Rehosting – also known as ‘lift and shift’ – is a more straightforward cloud migration strategy. It involves taking existing applications and redeploying them in the cloud. Rehosting is suitable for companies looking to use IaaS cloud services with legacy applications – this process is typically fast, cost-effective, and does not require deep cloud knowledge.
Refactoring usually requires more effort than rehosting. As well as lifting and shifting, refactoring also includes some optimisations to your workload. These changes improve the application’s performance when deployed in the cloud.
Revise / Replatform
Revising, or replatforming, includes making more extensive tweaks to your applications. Sometimes, this can involve broad re-coding efforts to take full advantage of cloud capabilities, requiring knowledge and resources.
The fourth cloud migration strategy, rebuilding, involves an organisation creating an entirely new application. It’s more typically used for large organisations with considerable resources, long periods of time, and exacting requirements.
Replacing a workload involves moving from an existing solution to a pre-built, third-party application. This saves coding time but can often mean a challenging data migration from one system to the other. A typical use case is a company moving from a legacy system to a SaaS cloud application.
Many sources suggest that two further cloud migration strategies can be adopted – retain and retire. Retaining occurs when specialist software, contractual agreements, or circumstances mean it might be best not to migrate a workload. Retiring often occurs when a workload’s processes have been merged with another solution.
Once you have chosen your cloud migration strategy, you should carefully consider your process.
The process of moving workloads to the cloud
When planning a workload migration, it’s vital to understand your entire process. It begins with understanding the use case.
During the early stages of a project, it’s often helpful to step back and ask yourself: what problem will it solve? If that question has not been answered before you begin, it could lead to issues later. As such, it’s essential to understand the migration’s purpose.
This should begin with a formal business case. Do all stakeholders agree on the purpose and benefits? The cloud migration should address a clear need within the current IT infrastructure, create an improved solution, and be judged on agreed targets like cost savings or performance gains.
Once the project has a clear focus, you can start to plan how to migrate to the cloud. Depending on your cloud migration strategy, this is the time to consider:
- How much time and resource will the project need?
- Are there any dependencies within the project?
- Is there a specific deadline?
- Will we migrate any data that requires modification or cleaning?
- Any security and compliance concerns.
Then, you can investigate suitable cloud solutions and providers. Understand what is important to your workload – are you looking for specific performance levels, SLAs, or compute resources? Once you’ve got a complete picture of your cloud migration planning, it’s time to begin.
Next, you should begin your cloud migration strategy. Depending on your business needs, this can mean a quick cloud deployment or a longer process.
Whichever strategy you use, it’s crucial to ensure business continuity. In some cases, this might mean planning a more straightforward migration– while more complex projects might require a period of running your new workload together with the legacy system.
You should plan the migration around staff and customer needs. Can your data be inaccessible during the migration? If not, now is the time to plan around that and ensure everybody is aware. With the buy-in gained at step 1, you should have stakeholder understanding.
Once you’ve moved into the cloud, you should review your project. Does your new workload fit your plans? At this stage, it’s useful to review data security, real-time traffic levels, and any issues that may have been reported.
Once you’re satisfied, it’s time to retire legacy systems. You can then concentrate on your cloud workload, future needs, and any other migrations.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are workloads in the cloud?
Cloud workloads are applications or services that can be deployed on cloud infrastructure. Examples of use cases for moving workloads to the cloud are databases, virtual machines (VMs), and business software.
What workloads can I move to the cloud?
When looking at candidates to move workloads to the cloud, you can consider databases and backups, disaster recovery, development, analytics, business software and collaboration tools.
What are the different types of workloads?
To easily move workloads to an appropriate cloud platform, you should investigate IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, hybrid cloud, multi-cloud services, and serverless workloads. Each brings benefits to certain tasks.
What is the easiest workload to move to the cloud?
Typically, the most straightforward cloud migration strategy is rehosting – or lift and shift. This involves simply lifting an existing workload and redeploying it on cloud infrastructure.
How do I move my services to the cloud?
To allow you to easily move workloads onto the cloud, you should understand:
- The benefits of cloud migration
- Which cloud migration strategy is best
- Your cloud migration process.
When moving workloads to the cloud, you should target specific and measurable improvements – with this focus, you can identify the best strategy, plan your process, and review the results. Our colocation data centres give you the ideal environment to build your solutions, helping you leverage the power and flexibility of the cloud. Contact us today to learn more.