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This content is part of the Essential Guide: What we learned about application migration to the cloud in 2014
Definition

cloud migration

Contributor(s): Kathleen Casey

Cloud migration is the process of moving data, applications or other business elements to a cloud computing environment.

There are various types of cloud migrations an enterprise can perform. One common model is the transfer of data and applications from a local, on-premises data center to the public cloud. However, a cloud migration could also entail moving data and applications from one cloud platform or provider to another -- a model known as cloud-to-cloud migration. A third type of migration is to uncloud -- also known as a reverse cloud migration or declouding -- where data or applications are moved off of the cloud and back to a local data center.

Benefits of cloud migration

The general goal or benefit of any cloud migration is to host applications and data in the most effective IT environment possible, based on factors such as cost, performance and security.

For example, many organizations perform the migration of on-premises applications and data from their local data center to public cloud infrastructure to take advantage of benefits, such as greater elasticity, self-service provisioning, redundancy and a flexible, pay-per-use model.

Cloud migration process

The steps or processes an enterprise follows during a cloud migration vary based on factors such as the type of migration it wants to perform and the specific resources it wants to move. That said, common elements of a cloud migration strategy include evaluating performance and security requirements, choosing a cloud provider, calculating costs and making any necessary organizational changes.

Common challenges an enterprise faces during a cloud migration include interoperability, data and application portability, data integrity and security, and business continuity. Without proper planning, a migration could negatively affect workload performance and lead to higher IT costs -- thereby negating some of the main benefits of cloud computing.

Depending on the details of the migration, an enterprise may choose to move an application to its new hosting environment without any modifications -- a model sometimes referred to as a lift-and-shift migration. In other cases, it might be more beneficial to make changes to an application's code or architecture before performing the migration.

In terms of data transfers from its local data center to the public cloud, an enterprise also has several options. These include the use of the public internet, a private/dedicated network connection or an offline transfer, in which an organization uploads its local data onto an appliance and then physically ships that appliance to a public cloud provider, which then uploads the data to the cloud. The type of data migration an enterprise chooses -- online or offline -- depends on the amount and type of data it wants to move, as well as how fast it needs to complete the migration.

cloud migration strategy
Review on-premises to cloud migration methods.

Cloud migration tools and services

There are various tools and services available to help an enterprise plan and execute a cloud migration.

For example, public cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google, offer cloud migration services to support private/dedicated networks for data transfers, as well offline migrations.

Public cloud providers also offer tools to help an enterprise plan and track the progress of a migration. These tools, for example, might collect information about an enterprise's on-premises environment, such as system dependencies, to help the company make a more informed migration plan.

Examples of migration services from public cloud providers include:

There are also third-party vendors that offer cloud migration services and tools, such as CloudVelox, Racemi and RiverMeadow.

This was last updated in September 2018

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