Application Migration to AWS Cloud: All You Need to Know Initially

As your business develops and acquires new capabilities, you are likely to face migration to AWS as an iterative development process. What you can do to ensure successful app migration to AWS is lay a proper foundation in your wisely carried out initial steps of migrating that provide experience and spur the later completion of AWS cloud migration within optimal business resources.

This article covers the most frequent customer pain points and bridges common knowledge gaps to catch you up on the ABCs of cloud migration.

Application migration to AWS cloud

Ever-changing market conditions dictate a business’s constant modernization. The latter may sound trite but it is composed of many essential processes that ensure a business’s survival in the evolving technical surrounding. They include high adjustability, the ability to extract ideas from the plentiful data, rethinking previously taken decisions and measures, leveraging technology – everything with the purpose of gaining the full value of the investments and innovating to satisfy the needs of the always-on customers.

Having established your motivation and made the decision on moving to the cloud, you’d better consider the AWS cloud migration strategy since the process is manifold and somewhat challenging to be finalized properly.

Why migrate applications to the AWS cloud?

Typically, there is no single reason for customers to decide on moving to the cloud for it is the favorable combination of factors that does the trick. We have surveyed customers who confided in our services and reported on the top reasons for migration. They include agility of staff productivity, cost and infrastructure sprawl reduction, increased security, data center consolidation, and preparing for an acquisition or divestiture as their reasons for moving.

Why AWS Well-Architected Framework

Cloud migration is a direction of Amazon Web Services’ considerable investment as it correlates with the business value delivered by the customers’ organizations. We back this conclusion up on the early customers’ migration experiences with AWS. The trust those pioneer executives of various company sizes, locations, and industries granted AWS with resulted in the tried-and-tested approaches and proven methodologies that you will be able to rely on in accomplishing your business objectives based on your current conditions.

The most efficient approaches AWS arrived at through numerous customers’ migrating journeys are by no means finite or lopsided. Acknowledging differences among the businesses’ environments and cultures, we have come to offer our services with maximum customization to your particular needs and aims, regardless of what drives your migration.

Still, if you’re interested in the benefits the move can introduce, we will look into the business drivers that motivate customers’ migrations to the AWS cloud.

Business drivers for migrating to the cloud

Security and operational resilience

Admittedly, transitions to the cloud pose numerous challenges to the infrastructure so keeping data safe becomes critical. For this reason, AWS prioritizes security in cloud-based environments. Thus, they respond to the security and compliance needs of even the most risk-sensitive organizations by providing not only a secure computing environment but also cutting-edge security services.

Migration to AWS calls for reasonable security posture management with countermeasures against modern-day cyberattacks, identity and access policies management, and unauthorized disclosure prevention. A secure and sustainable cloud computing framework is also characterized by resiliency which AWS ensures by adequate preventative and recovery security measures that lead to the high availability of your app.

What allows AWS to select and deploy the best cloud security practices is broad experience in protecting millions of active customers across different parts of the globe, industries, and use cases. Their diversity conditions the expertise in addressing external and internal threats to business security and designing the most advanced infrastructure and security services to comply with the strictest safety regulations.

Delegating security issues, such as regulatory compliance, threat response, risk mitigation, or traffic monitoring to AWS, you get an opportunity to redistribute the resources at your disposal in order to best suit your business needs. Statistics based on AWS customer cases promises up to 43% fewer monthly security incidents and seven times less downtime after moving to the cloud.

Cost reduction

The most pursued reason for any change implementation, cloud migration is no exception, is cost reduction. Giving preference to more progressive AWS solutions over legacy infrastructure guarantees maximized cost and efficiency savings.

The confidence in a balanced budget and other resources is supported by the data AWS collects from their customers to accurately predict the cost savings each given environment is likely to achieve: customers most commonly expect 25-50% of the annual cost reduction once their cloud migration is complete. A study by Ivy discovered that customers achieved the chief 51% reduction in operational cost and 31% lower TCO over five years.

The number may fluctuate as it is largely dependent on different factors and characteristics of the specific application infrastructure, and can be subject to more precise evaluations. Still, marked costs drop one can count on allows reinvesting the savings to obtain more ambitious business outcomes and deliver more value to the end-users.

Value of migration to the cloud beyond cost saving

Agility of IT staff productivity

Increased agility is among the top factors for customers in favor of migrating to the cloud. Cloud on AWS enables you to implement your ideas times faster than any of the on-premises software. Largely, it is possible due to a list of over 200 fully featured services available on the platform, ranging from computing and storing to continuous integration and artificial intelligence.

The flexible architecture that the AWS platform provides is directly linked with boosted business agility and increased automation that free up the time for priorities and speed up innovation pace. Staff agility proves to be the most gainful investment outlet as it brings on prominent business benefits: time and effort savings can be redirected to more swift enhancement releases and result delivery to the end customer.

Talking numbers, the average of 62% improvement in IT staff productivity is reached after the cloud migration. These resources can fund your newly-set business goals.

Hardware/software end-of-life

A valid reason for cloud migration is the licensing or support end-of-life (EOL). What the companies that face hardware or software EOL seek in the AWS environment is the ability to minimize refresh cycles and enhance depreciating assets or capabilities. This will stand out for Windows workloads users since an IDC report suggests that two times more Windows Server instances are run by AWS than the second major cloud provider.

According to the report, for businesses with inconsistent working patterns or demand seasonality, the higher scalability that the cloud environment suggests for Windows workloads, is certainly more convenient since it frees up the qualified personnel to focus on designing new soft. This maximizes cost-effectiveness and requirement alignment, followed by swift development of new products and enhanced customer experience.

Digital transformation

Among other reasons for the AWS Cloud move is attaining digital transformation which summarizes increased agility, promoting culture change, and more diverse and expanded use of technologies.

Fairly enough, it is competition that drives an overwhelming majority of organizations from on-premises environments to the cloud. Information society demands that businesses, in order to keep themselves afloat, take advantage of the available data, and use them to render the best possible services to the customers.

Cloud, among other tools, has been created to foster this common mission of businesses across the globe. The author of a Forbes article postulates that we are not after changing the technology we use – we are much rather after using technology to change how we do our own part. And the cloud provides the most advanced computing services and resources to take advantage of the opportunities in order to transform the business and keep its competitive edge.

Going global quickly

One more benefit following the decision to move to the cloud is quick strategic scalability based on the access to a global network of data centers that, in addition, facilitates the integration of digital assets, as well as shortens and streamlines mergers & acquisitions (M&A) procedures.

New technologies (AI/ML & IoT)

Evolving technological landscape, – take artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) and internet of things (IoT) as an example, – poses new challenges to the environments when it comes to meeting the computational and storing requirements. Opting for the cloud on AWS is a practical and resource-effective response to the request.

How to decide if I need to migrate?

Simply taking steps along the way of migrating doesn’t allow you to fully exploit the advantages of the move. Awareness and understanding of the migration stages and their related processes in the adjacent areas make a tangible difference. We can more deeply acknowledge the idea by considering migration in the fauna that presupposes not only the transportation of species caused by the search for better conditions but also adjusting to the inconsistent surrounding and unpredictable circumstances.

Converting on-premise environments to the cloud parallels the natural world phenomena. One commences with deciding to migrate with a reliable provider, one proceeds by moving the infrastructure to the cloud, and one then continuously adapts to the new conditions during and after the migration.

Here are five essential questions you should ask as you decide whether to migrate to the cloud:

  • Does retaining your applications on-premises prevent improving customer experience, developing progressive services, and gaining a competitive edge?
  • Do you still spend resources on maintaining hard- and software, managing licenses, keeping up security posture, and ensuring compliance for your environment that could be relocated to the cloud with the relevant level of support of fully managed offerings?
  • Do the scale of your infrastructure and the performance delivered provide efficient work of your teams?
  • Can you access the critical business data which supply the insights needed to increase your competitive position?
  • Can the legacy systems of your infrastructures be incorporated with the modern systems that provide the best CX?

The questions above are composed to foster your understanding and decision-making. Another set of equally significant questions concerns your readiness for migration and the flow of the process itself, they are the following:

  • Can you perform and complete your cloud migration with your qualified and experienced team only, without external assistance?
  • Do you need a third-party vendor to deliver training and assistance to operate in the cloud effectively?
  • Will an experienced provider help you speed up and enhance the achievement of your business objectives?

As soon as you settle on moving to the cloud and the terms of migration, you should start drafting your cloud migration strategy to lead you through the process itself. This article will enlighten you on migration so that you can broaden your perspective and illustrate how moving complies with general modernization.

Phases of an AWS cloud migration

Cloud transformation is a large complex process, and still, the following abstract describes it through three sequential phases:

Assess phase – build the business case for the migration

At the dawn of your migration path, a business case is designed. The phase features your company’s readiness assessment for migration, your portfolio consideration, and the check of your key stakeholders’ alignment. This evaluation is the basis and at the same time preparation for the move.

A migration readiness assessment establishes the precise location of your organization on the migration journey map together with the gaps on your way you would have to bridge, and the action plan to do so. What you may find helpful on your way is the Amazon Web Services Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF). The framework assists in rating your transition from six different perspectives: business, people, governance, platform, security, and operations, – all of these add up to the comprehensive all-round view needed for a successful migration.

The outcomes you get from a properly conducted readiness review are as follows:
– Understanding the whole cloud migration route and how far along your company is located;
– Established strong sides and the ones where you surely need more preparation;
– A program designed for your ultimate migration readiness with steps to tackle the weaknesses that stand in your way of the transition.

What’s more, the untransparent extra outcomes could include:
– Alignment in building within your team;
– Best practices settled within the organization;
– Prevention or elimination of roadblocks that can impede the move.

Mobilization phase – prepare the organization and mobilize the resources

Having developed the full understanding of the migration as such, having gained insights into your current state from your portfolio and the business case in the initial stage of migration, you are all set for the next step: working within your teams to demonstrate the value of the cloud.

The mobilize stage puts forward establishing the foundational capability of your company as well as of the AWS environment. It consists in gathering your tool and practice portfolio in an AWS landing zone marked by high scalability and security of automated operations. In this way, you start small: move a certain set of apps, anchor agile delivery, determine team structure, and lead the move process.

Migration phase – use your strategy, plan, and best practices to migrate and modernize

The current phase is the final one of the AWS cloud migration. As the name suggests, first comes migration, then modernization. Migrate and modernize divides the latter into two subsequent stages: initialization and implementation.

  • Stage 1: Initialize a migration
    People and the platform are being prepared for the move: the landing zone design may be reviewed and verified as to its bandwidth, also a training plan may be developed. Your company’s policies govern the creation of standard operating procedures for the larger scale of migration. These runbooks help automate the next stage of migrating, making it faster and easier.
  • Stage 2: Implement a migration
    The runbooks for automated standard processes designed in the previous stage help run your migration at a larger scale while you can use project governance tools and a health-check matrix to supervise and manage the move. The aforementioned runbooks are being constantly improved to accelerate and smoothen your journey to the cloud.

AWS Well-Architected Framework and Cloud Migration Phases

Making use of external aids is optional, though the difference AWS Well-Architected Framework can make to your migration is quite substantial. Combined with the seven application cloud migration strategies, the Pillars of the Framework can introduce a whole new perspective and influence your decision-making.

Well Architected Framework and Migration Phases

What’s more, AWS Well-Architected Review ensures you possess the best and most efficient practices for sensible use of available resources, in creating new workloads and examining the existing computing environments alike. The well-rounded analysis of software detects the areas that allow enhancement for increased security, agility, and cost-effectiveness of your workload.

AWS migration strategies for moving applications to the cloud

Why AWS Well-Architected Framework

Rehost

The Rehost strategy also goes by the name of Lift and Shift. It is the one you will employ to transfer the applications that don’t require any modifications to be moved to the AWS Cloud, for instance, migrating the whole application stack from the source environment to the cloud.

Be it hosted by a physical, a virtual, or a cloud-based platform, – a high number of apps from various source environments can be moved to the AWS cloud with no regard to their compatibility, long cutover windows, or long-distance data replications. Applications in the rehosting process don’t incur performance disruption whereas downtime, dependent on your cutover strategy, is reduced. This all allows the apps to be serving customers at the same time with the ongoing workloads’ migration.

Lift and Shift demands no cloud optimizations for scaling your apps, which is both time- and cost-efficient. Cloud-based applications are faster and easier integrated into AWS with more swift re-architecting, optimization, and management.

Relocate

Speaking of moving applications exclusively from an on-premises platform to a cloud version of the platform, migration of quite a few servers within one or more apps at one point is possible through the Relocate strategy. It comes in handy in relocating instances among separate virtual private clouds (VPC), AWS Region, or AWS accounts.

A benefit of ‘Relocate’ is no demand for acquiring new hardware, changing the actual operation, or rewriting apps. Just like with the Rehost strategy, while relocating, your apps carry on operating, and downtime or performance disruption are minimized. Besides, the Relocate strategy keeps the software architecture intact, which makes the strategy the fastest way to move the workload and run it on the AWS cloud.

Replatform

You may also encounter it referred to as Lift, Tinker, and Shift or Lift and Reshape. ‘Replatforming’ means transferring an app to the cloud along with introducing optimizations, with the same in mind: more efficient operation, a balanced budget, and new cloud services available. With the Replatfrom strategy, you are free to modify your application to best suit your target platform, and, ultimately, your business objectives.

Replatform is appropriate for you if you want to:

  • migrate to a fully managed service in the AWS Cloud for cost- and time-efficiency;
  • upgrade the system to the newest version if your goal is enhanced security and compliance posture;
  • cut down costs;
  • boost application performance without code change by turning virtual machines into containerized apps.

Shift or Lift and Reshape consists in moving your apps to a fully managed cloud complying with the strictest security regulations, and transferring virtual machines to containers. At the same time, your apps proceed to operate and deliver improved performance at minimized expenses.

Refactor / Re-Architect

The Re-architect, or Refactor, strategy determines changing an application’s architecture on its way to the cloud. Apps undergo modifications to adopt the cloud-native features which contribute to the applications’ agility, scalability, performance, and cost-efficiency.

The Refactor migration strategy rules migration when it comes down to these:

  • too costly maintenance of a legacy mainframe app, too many limitations to achieve business tasks;
  • a monolith application hampers efforts to accommodate the end-users’ needs on time;
  • a legacy app is demanding to maintain as the source code is unserviceable;
  • an app’s challenging in testing, with low test coverage which detriments the quality and delivery of the app’s features.
  • security and compliance concerns request that you retain certain data (e.g. customer information) on-premises while others can be moved to the cloud.

Repurchase

The Repurchase strategy, alias Drop and Shop, presupposes substituting your product with a different one, or the former’s other version. The criteria to recognize a successful Repurchase are that your new app: is more accessible to end-users, needs less maintenance than the previous one, and follows the pay-as-you-go subscription. Therefore, the costs for maintaining and licensing the infrastructure are brought down while the business value increases.

The Drop and Shop is preferable in the cases of replacing:

  • your license with a SaaS in order or delegate maintenance and licensing;
  • an on-premises app with the latest version of a cloud equivalent for developing new features, scalability, and access to cloud capabilities;
  • a custom application with a vendor-based SaaS or cloud-based app.

Mind that ‘Repurchase’ will need full security and compliance assessment along with business requirements analysis to be initiated.

Retire

What is this cloud migration strategy? The one you are likely to apply for workloads subject to decommissioning. When retiring an app you close down the servers within that application stack.

The most typical use cases for the Retire strategy are:

  • no business value brought by maintaining the application or moving it to the cloud;
  • need for cost-reduction in retaining and hosting the workload;
  • insufficient or unsatisfactory app performance;
  • no inbound connection to your application within the last 90 days;
  • higher-than-desired security risks in an app that uses an outdated or no longer-supported OS or its components.

Retain

Should there be any applications you’d like to not move yet, or keep in your source environment – this strategy will suit your needs.
The use cases for the Retain strategy are such:

  • compliance with data residency and security requirements;
  • migration poses risks and calls for detailed prior assessment;
  • the decision to primarily move (an)other app(s);
  • recently upgraded applications with the upcoming investment scheduled at the next technical refresh;
  • no business value, e.g. migrating an app with a scarce number of internal users;
  • plans to migrate to software as a service (SaaS) for vendor-based apps;
  • insoluble physical dependencies e.g. specialized hardware with no cloud alternative;
  • apps that need methodical assessment and migration planning;
  • app performance, e.g. keeping idle apps on-premise.

What should a cloud migration planning look like?

Scope, strategy, and timeline are the three foundational elements at the core of all programs in migration. It is vital to fully comprehend each of them to achieve alignment and then map out the migration. The three basics are so tightly interconnected that any change within one of them, however minor it may be, necessarily affects the others. So, after even the most imperceptible amendment, the elements should be re-aligned. Before wondering what to include in cloud migration strategy, we’d better look at each of them more closely so that you get a working understanding and be ready to set out on your way to the cloud.

Scope

Quite commonly, the total scope of a program remains a gray area until late into the move. The reason behind it is that a certain number of different factors may be unpacked closer to the end of the process. Setting your desired business outcome and going backward within the migration itself to establish the scope of the move is what we recommend.

This element is liable to change since there will always be unknowns in the migrations. To put it simply, the unknowns may turn out to be parts of the irrelevant environment archeology or production incidents that abruptly change the AWS migration plan and hinder the process. The only measure you can take is building backup plans and being ready to adapt and make new decisions on the way.

Strategy

We have discussed the most common reasons so as to why companies migrate to the AWS cloud in the first subsection of the article. No matter what reasons govern your migration journey, they should be well-comprehended, prioritized, and agreed upon by both your business’s and the vendor’s teams. Every migration driver requires a certain strategy and brings on added risk, cost and effort. An important thing to bear in mind along your journey is that the favored strategy also correlates with two other basic elements, the scope, described above, and the timeline, explained further.

It is highly advisable to define your drivers and the desired business outcomes first. Cloud migration strategy consideration is the next step. Only then should you explore how your common established goals and priorities can be aligned within a timeline that all the teams involved in the move are supposed to adhere to. As many teams typically perform the migration, it is key that they acknowledge the drivers, share their collective vision and collaborate towards a common objective according to the plan.

With this in view, one should establish and convey the right priorities and expectations at the very outset. A sensible outlook posits “Migrate first, then modernize.” Following this approach allows you to tackle technical debt and operate at full capacity when migrating; once you’re in the AWS Cloud, you can take advantage of all its modernization services to upgrade your app to its more agile and scalable version.

Timeline

Your business case and your set goals will direct your migration in the scope, strategy, and now, timeline. Suppose your move has time constraints: the strategy you select is to handle the program scope by the deadline set. The majority of migrations are time-sensitive, so, there arises a need for a clearly defined strategy with outcomes tied up to the carefully calculated timelines which exclude overrun.

The migrate-first-then-modernize approach we introduced earlier works perfectly with such time-bound migrations. As the priorities, goals, expectations, and completion dates are settled at the very start of the move, it’s much easier for the teams to stick to the project plans that comply with the bigger migration objective. The sooner any disagreements are detected, the sooner they can be addressed by the steering committee in order to re-align the components of the process and get the migration back on track.

On the other hand, migration may as well lack the specified fixed deadlines. In this case, it conforms to the aim of a general modernization of the application. Just like with the time-sensitive move, in this case, the main goal must be defined at the launch of the process. For there are programs that started with a fixed timeline but failed to align with the stakeholders’ primary objective to work out more prominent issues – cases like these may artificially obstruct the migration.

If your cloud migration focuses foremost on modernization, you should be prepared for alterations in the plan. However minute an upgrade may be, it is still inextricably connected with the app’s functionality and can majorly affect the timelines. Any amendment should be weighed up and thoroughly woven into the migration plan. As soon as you have got a solid action plan at hand, you are all set to search for your migration and modernization partner.

How can Romexsoft help in cloud migration?

We, as a trusted AWS Certified Consulting and Development Partner, offer a broad range of services, including AWS Migration Services. If you resolve to set out to the cloud, our migration experts, with experience in multiple successful transitions, will lead you through the crucial migration steps on your journey to a more secure, agile, and efficient environment in the AWS cloud.

1. Assessment & Analysis

The first step in your cooperation with Romexsoft on the way to the cloud is conducting a comprehensive assessment of your workloads and environments. Our certified cloud architects analyze your app’s operations and processes, server types and network topology, compliance and security regulations, as well as business logic.

The point of the review is to reach a profound understanding of your workloads, in particular, your environment inventory, application dependencies, and requirements, key performance indicators, as well as the total estimated ownership costs. What you get as an outcome is an accurately established scope of required work, which will determine migration strategy, and expected timeline along with preventing and addressing risks while and after migrating.

2. Strategy & Roadmap

The following phase means a careful configuration of the cloud services and technologies to maintain your newly developed cloud environment. The readiness assessment from the Assess & Analyze phase is implemented to plan the scope and a detailed migration roadmap within a migration strategy. Planning involves organization and project structure, identity management, and networking with a view to setting up the cloud infrastructure to transfer your applications to. It allows being on the safe side with unprecedented cases while balancing your resources.

3. Migration

Application Migration

A major migration service advisory for the Rehost migration strategy and to the current users of Server Migration Service (SMS) is AWS Application Migration Service (AWS MGN) since it simplifies and accelerates the move while minimizing the app’s downtime and performance disruption.

Data Migration

Data transfer between an on-premises environment and AWS Storage services is automated by AWS DataSync. The service ensures migration, including file and object data replication or archival, with end-to-end security, a fully managed high-scalability environment that minimizes maintenance expenses and simplifies the movement by migration scheduling, and task filtering.

For long-distance transfer of larger objects, we recommend using Amazon S3 Transfer Acceleration (S3TA). It eliminates congestion and variability in Internet routing thus enhancing application performance and speeding up the migration of remotely hosted apps by 50-500% through the use of a global network of CloudFront Edge Locations.

Database Migration

Information migration to and from commercial and open-source databases can be conducted via AWS Database Migration Service (AWS DMS). In the process, applications remain fully functional and the database – accessible due to the minimal downtime, data replication between the source and the target database, high resiliency, and self-restoration in case of interruption. AWS DMS only charges for the compute resources and extra log storage.

4. Validation & Testing

We guarantee the ultimate security, compliance, reliability, and stability of the system by carrying out in-depth testing of each application, database, and workflow. A migration project check-up includes integration, scalability, performance, and security testing along with application functional validation. In comparison between an on-premises and cloud environment, the gray areas of the cloud’s scalability accommodation and additional integrations and dependencies have to be treated with special attention. Using the most advanced approaches, we check the whole system for possible risks to exclude potential system failures and the organization’s trustworthiness threats.

5. Modernization

  • AWS Infrastructure Development
  • DevOps Automation (CI/CD)
  • Cloud-Native Application Development
  • AWS Cost Optimization

6. Operation

  • Building Monitoring and Alerting Solutions
  • 24/7 AWS Support & Incident Management
  • Ongoing Security Compliance
  • Spend Management

Looking for a team to migrate your app to AWS cloud?

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    Ivan Shulak Sr. Delivery Manager, Senior Application Architect at Romexsoft | AWS Certified Solutions ArchitectOracle Certified Professional, Java SE 8 Programmer | Keen on Java Application Development and Cloud Application Development.
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