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Cloud Migration

What is Cloud Migration?

Cloud migration is the process of moving applications and services from a traditional infrastructure in a company’s private data centre to hosted solutions available on virtualized technology via the Internet, a solution known as the cloud. Migrating to the cloud has several advantages but can be a significant undertaking, so understanding the migration to cloud steps and processes involved is critical to success.

Legacy Infrastructure

As personal computing began to supplement, then replace mainframe computing, organizations have been delivering business services on an extensive collection of servers, network, and storage gear, all brought into their data centre independently and configured to work together. The environments needed to support increasingly digital operations have meant more equipment, the development of highly available redundant systems, and additional equipment to secure the environment as Internet networking grew. Over time, this highly complex set of systems became increasingly important to the business as more and more business operations moved to digital technology. This placed a considerable burden on internal IT to support the infrastructure and guarantee service availability.

Today, this equipment is considered legacy infrastructure, given the newer, heavily virtualized technologies available. As organizations struggle with the complexity of their systems and the responsibility for managing them, infrastructure migration to cloud technologies becomes more attractive to them.

Additionally, organizations are finding that legacy infrastructure is no longer easy to maintain. Due to their age, replacement parts and knowledge about them become less available, and the systems themselves become less serviceable and maintainable. Organizations are in the position of balancing infrastructure migration to cloud with the expense of replacing legacy equipment and the potential for business interruption when they do so. Migrating to the cloud has become an easy answer for many, enabling them to reduce data centre, power, and equipment costs.

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How to Plan for a Cloud migration?

Cloud migration is the process of migrating business services and applications to cloud technology. Planning is key to success in migrating to the cloud, and organizations need to address the migration scenarios that will work best for them.

First, there are three main cloud deployment scenarios to consider when migrating to the cloud:

  • Saas cloud migration involves moving from internally hosted applications to applications hosted by third-party providers in their own data centre, known as Software as a Service (SaaS). Most commonly used packaged software is now available in a SaaS model, exchanging the cost of equipment and operations with a fee-for-use cost structure.
  • Private cloud refers to moving from legacy infrastructure to modernized, virtual environments within an internal data centre. With a private cloud, migrating to the cloud is still an expense for an organization as legacy infrastructure is replaced with cloud technologies, and the organization needs to plan and manage both their migration and continuing operations.
  • Public cloud is the term for migrating to the cloud using externally hosted solutions. Like Saas cloud migration, public cloud offerings remove the equipment expense from consideration, and because of its many advantages, cloud migration to public cloud offerings have become more and more popular.

Planning should include documenting migration scenarios for the organization, perhaps with a matrix-style approach. Each business service or application should be listed with options as in the example below:

Application or Service



Microsoft Office Apps
  • SaaS
  • On-premise cloud (private)
  • Fully hosted public cloud

Purchase from Microsoft or a Microsoft partner means full support directly from the software’s owner.

  • Varied email packages via SaaS
  • On-premise cloud (private)
  • Fully hosted public cloud

Variety of costs associated with the email vendor will almost always be less expensive than internally managed email services

Proprietary Marketing System
  • Replace with SaaS marketing solution
  • On-premise cloud (private)
  • Fully hosted public cloud

Complex data conversion and training, but is it better to convert or continue maintaining internally

Proprietary Business Solutions
  • Replace with SaaS marketing solution
  • On-premise cloud (private)
  • Fully hosted public cloud

Due to the customization needed to run the business, commercial solutions don’t exist, so what is the better long-term solution: on-premises or cloud?

Building a matrix of this nature allows the organization to test out migration scenarios in greater detail, comparing the costs of each potential option, long-term financial benefit, operational needs and budget moving forward, need for customization, etc. To achieve this, requirements for each option need to be developed and vendor proposals considered. While cloud migration planning needs to be done for every business solution, the result is the start of building the required comprehensive cloud migration strategy that will be needed.

The migration process

Once a decision is made for migrating to the cloud, more detailed planning must be done, with a fair understanding of the cloud migration process. The most common phases of cloud migration follow.

Step 1: Planning
A migration plan needs to be created for each, every application or set of applications being migrated based on the cloud solution being planned. Each phase of migration should include detailed migration to cloud steps and who is responsible for them (internal IT or provider).  With Saas cloud migration, conversion may also be needed.

Step 2: Risk and Security Assessment/Mitigation
Once the migration to cloud steps are complete for each option, they need to be assessed for risk: the unavailability of the service and security risk when migrating to the cloud. Service redundancy and back-out plans should be considered when planning the migration to cloud steps for each application. For example, the target cloud or SaaS solution can be fully implemented and migration achieved while the source system is still operational. Users may be moved over gradually, or data replication can be used to keep both environments available until the cloud offering is fully trusted, then the legacy infrastructure can be gradually decommissioned.

Security planning is another of the phases of cloud migration that should not be overlooked. The provider’s security should be assessed prior to contracting for services, but the security of the migration to the cloud also needs review. All aspects need to be considered, from network security at both endpoints as well as security of the connectivity and data migration tools used. Application security should also be considered.

Step 3: Configuration
Every solution will need to be configured, even SaaS solutions. Understanding the amount of configuration needed and expected time frames can help with planning the actual cloud migration. Obviously, configuring a SaaS solution is minor to configuring an entire application environment on a vendor’s public cloud infrastructure, but both require work to be done. The effort needed for configuring cloud environments will depend on the migration strategy used: simply moving an application to a cloud environment is easier than completely re-architecting a business-critical application to take advantage of the newest cloud capabilities available. All of this should have been covered during the planning stage, with appropriate timescales available in the project plan.

Step 4: Data Migration / Conversion:
Once the solution is ready at the target site, the data can be migrated. If an application change is being made as part of a Saas cloud migration, data may first need to be converted and loaded into the new solution. All data migration planning should consider data privacy, security, and compliance and may even affect the design and cloud migration – deployment style chosen.

Step 5: Service and Data Validation
Once the migration to cloud steps have been completed for an application or business service, the solution must be validated. With a Saas cloud migration, a set of users should be asked to log in and perform pre-defined validation tests, and any/all integrations between the application and other applications should be tested. These tests should have been part of planning.

The migration of an entire business service environment to a hosted cloud solution may require more detailed validation testing, including testing all interfaces to other services and systems, security testing, stress testing of the environment for capacity, and more.

Types of Cloud Migration Strategies

Widely accepted types of migration involve the practices known as the 6 R’s of Cloud migration and form the basis for migration planning. In fact, these are the types of cloud migration that form the basis for a cloud migration strategy: re-host, re-platform, re-factor, re-purchase, retire and retain.

The advantage to understanding migration strategies is that organizations will typically make use of some or all of them in planning when migrating to the cloud. Common packaged software may be re-purchased as a SaaS solution resulting in significant savings to the organization as they no longer need to maintain infrastructure and manage the solutions. Critical business services that require greater stability than is currently available may be re-factored to take advantage of the virtual technology used in cloud environments. In this case, it is worth taking the time to look at all state-of-the-art database, server, and storage options and redesign the application and its infrastructure as if it were being implemented from scratch today, as that is what happens in a re-factor approach. In doing so, the organization can increase availability while decreasing costs by leveraging the advantages of cloud technologies.

Migration to the cloud for smaller, less critical business applications may be more of a re-hosting or re-platforming to save planning time, essentially moving them as is or making small changes to take advantage of the virtualized cloud environment.

Deployment Style

In migrating to the cloud there are also a variety of cloud styles organizations can adopt, and combining them tends to be part of the organization’s overarching cloud migration strategy:

  • Full Saas cloud migration to common productivity services and industry solutions. This option makes it easy to obtain the most popular applications available and supports both the re-purchase and re-host approaches.
  • Private cloud implementation to replace legacy infrastructure with a private cloud environment is a cloud migration scenario used to modernize operations. Private cloud migration can fall into re-hosting or refactoring. Frequently, highly critical business applications that are sitting on legacy infrastructure will be moved to private cloud infrastructure before an eventual migration to an alternative cloud approach.
  • Public cloud solutions offer the ability to change the sourcing model for cloud implementations from internal to external or a combination of both. There are different cloud deployment styles available:
    • Hybrid cloud combines the use of both internal and external cloud services. This provides data centre virtualization capabilities that provide automated business continuity in the event of an emergency at one of the data centres in the design.
    • Multi-cloud solutions, where an organization moves to public cloud solutions offered by multiple providers. Global organizations will commonly require this model due to data privacy and compliance needs.

CG Technologies as your Cloud Migration Partner

When migrating to the cloud, the most important strategic decision is choosing the right partner. CG Technologies offers peace of mind by providing redundant technologies in data centres that are protected from the risk of fire, flood, and other external threats.

CG Technologies offer a variety of cloud solutions:

  • Re-architect or re-host your solutions with our fully customizable and flexible virtual server solutions enabling you to design the cloud environment that best meets your needs.
  • Re-platform your desktops to remote desktop services that enable your desktops to be managed centrally and fully backed up as your workforce has become more virtual. This is a scalable and cost-effective means of providing a consistent desktop experience regardless of the end user’s location and enables them to move seamlessly from virtual to on-site work experiences.
  • Re-purchase your email services by moving them to our hosted SaaS solution for email, lowering your email hosting and management costs.
  • Treat CG Technologies as your business continuity partner by using our cloud backup and disaster recovery services located in the greater Toronto area.

CG Technologies has more than twenty years of experience in data centre and hosting services and enjoys a 95% customer retention rate during that period. This is what truly offers you peace of mind: our proven track record and excellence in delivering secure, resilient services translate to satisfaction and customer retention.