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Cloud migration strategies

Cloud Migration Strategies, Challenges & Hacks: A Playbook for Smart Cloud Migration

The cloud computing landscape is as dynamic as the Earth’s surface. The reasons are a shift in the macroeconomic climate, the growing demands of customers and the popping up of new tools and services. While we can list multiple more reasons for its humongous growth in the past years, we ought to agree to the fact that cloud service is fast expanding in the marketplace.  

According to Gartner, 65% of application workloads will be ready for cloud delivery by 2027, up from 45% in 2022. 

A report from G2 states that 1 out of 3 organizations will migrate from their legacy services to cloud services by 2025 and 75% of organizations are already keen on building cloud-native applications. 

Though cloud migration is hot on the trends and many businesses are keen on walking the cloud way, woefully it’s not a walk in the park. Research states that every one in three cloud migration processes fail and 25% of organizations fail to meet their cloud migration goals. 

It is a testament to the fact that not all migration processes turn into successful ones and every organization has its own challenges. It can be crushed through clear cloud migration planning, validation and implementation. 

In this article, we shed light on 8 common challenges of cloud migration, the best ways to mitigate them and the 7 different strategies of cloud migration.  

Let’s dive into the topic! 

We’ve covered all the nitty-gritty details about cloud computing in the blog here. Do give it a read.

What is Cloud Migration? 

Cloud migration refers to the process of moving an organization’s digital assets, such as data, applications, and IT infrastructure, from on-premises or traditional computing environments to cloud-based platforms.  

The cloud-based platforms refer to remote servers and services that are accessed over the internet, typically provided by third-party providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and others. Companies can move their whole or partial on-premises set-up to the aforementioned public cloud service providers or build a private or hybrid cloud computing setting.  

Cloud Migration Vs Cloud Transformation: The Key Difference 

Cloud transformation vs cloud migration

While cloud migration and cloud transformation are related concepts in the context of adopting cloud computing, both differ in their focuses and implications.  

Cloud transformation involves not just moving existing systems to the cloud, but also restructuring, optimizing, and sometimes even rewriting applications to fully leverage cloud-native capabilities. Cloud transformation is a more comprehensive approach that seeks to modernize applications and take full advantage of cloud services, architecture, and practices. This can include rearchitecting applications to be more modular, scalable, and fault-tolerant, adopting microservices, using serverless computing, and embracing DevOps practices. 

Cloud migration, on the other hand, is the process of moving applications, data, and other resources from on-premises infrastructure or another cloud provider to a cloud environment. The primary goal of cloud migration is to shift existing workloads to the cloud to take advantage of its scalability, and flexibility, and potentially reduce operational costs.  

In cloud migration, the existing systems are replicated without making any significant changes to the architecture or functionality. 

In simpler terms, cloud migration is like moving your stuff to a new house. Whereas cloud transformation is like upgrading and remodelling your stuff to work better in the new house. 

If you would like to learn more about Cloud Transformation, you can find all the juicy details here.

Why embrace the cloud with a winning migration strategy? 

No matter how small or big an organization is, adopting a cloud migration strategy is instrumental in leveraging its out-and-out benefits. There’s no one-plan-fit-for-all when it comes to cloud migration. It varies based on the organization’s cloud migration goals, its impact on the business, architecture principles and the budget they expect to spend and save.  

A surefire cloud migration strategy is crucial to decide which applications to be removed, replaced or rewritten, which digital assets to keep on-premises and the ones that are suitable for lift and shift.  

The perks of the strategic shift 

  • Flexibility and agility are major benefits of well-planned cloud migration. It offers the agility needed to quickly deploy and iterate on applications. This is particularly advantageous for businesses that need to adapt to changing market conditions or deliver new features rapidly. 
  • Cost Efficiency: Cloud services operate on a pay-as-you-go model, enabling organizations to optimize costs by only paying for the resources they use. This eliminates the need to invest heavily in upfront hardware and infrastructure costs. 
  • Application Compatibility: Certain applications might not function properly in the cloud without adjustments. A migration strategy helps you evaluate application compatibility, determine necessary modifications, and choose the appropriate migration approach. 
  • Scalability: Cloud platforms allow organizations to scale their resources up or down based on demand. This elasticity ensures that applications can handle varying workloads without significant manual intervention and allows enterprises to meet changing demand at will, whether seasonality, growth or any other spike in demand. 
  • Faster time-to-market: Cloud migration enables rapid deployment of applications and services. This can significantly reduce the time it takes to develop, test, and launch new products, features, or updates, giving businesses a competitive edge and the ability to seize opportunities faster. 

It provides a roadmap for the entire migration process, guiding you through the complexities and challenges while maximizing the benefits of moving to the cloud. It ensures that your migration is well-executed, aligned with your business objectives, and sets the stage for successful cloud operations. 

Check out this blog to learn why organizations are shifting their gears from legacy testing to cloud-based testing solutions.

Exploring the different types of cloud migration strategies 

There are no thumb rules organizations can follow to make their cloud migration process smooth and effective. Gartner’s 5Rs framework was the first of a kind that capsuled all the basic factors that should be considered when making the shift. Hinging on Gartner’s 5 R framework, AWS enhanced and launched its own version of the migration framework and named it as AWS cloud migration strategy. Let’s explore the 7 Rs of AWS cloud migration strategy below: 

Cloud transformation vs cloud migration

The 7 Rs of Cloud Migration Strategy 

  1. Rehost

Also known as “cloud migration strategy lift and shift,” this involves moving your applications as-is to the cloud without making significant changes to their architecture. It’s a quick way to migrate a large number of assets from different platforms without stressing over compatibility, performance breakdown or long-distance data replications. On the downside, it might not take full advantage of cloud-native features.   

2. Replatform 

This strategy, also referred to as lift, tinker and shift or lift and reshape, involves making optimizations to your applications to take advantage of certain cloud services while still maintaining their core architecture. For example, migrating a database to a managed database service offered by the cloud provider.  

Some of the common use cases for this replatform migration strategy are: 

  • You intend to enhance security and compliance by migrating your legacy operating systems to the latest cloud versions.  
  • You intend to improve performance and modernize your applications by shifting virtual machines to cloud services without making any changes to the code. 
  • You intend to save time and cut costs by shifting to a serverless or fully managed cloud service. 

3. Repurchase 

Also known as drop and shop, this strategy involves replacing existing applications with commercially available Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. The new application should offer increased business value, accessibility, reduced infrastructure maintenance cost and flexibility over the pricing models. In shorter terms, you savour reduced expenses for maintenance, infrastructure and licensing for the applications you repurchased. 

4. Refactor / Re-architect 

This strategy allows you to shift your applications to the cloud and modify or rewrite their architecture to take full advantage of cloud-native features and capabilities. In this strategy you gain improved agility, performance and scalability than you achieve in your legacy systems. It involves breaking down monolithic applications into microservices or redesigning certain components. Some of the major reasons where the refactor/re-architect strategy is applicable: 

  • When it’s difficult to test your legacy applications it eventually impacts the quality and delivery of new application features and fixes. By embracing this strategy, you can easily integrate automated testing tools and enhance test coverage. 
  • When your technical team knows less about how to maintain the legacy applications or if the source code is non-existent. 
  • When you have a legacy application that fails to meet your customer’s needs and demands. 
  •  When your legacy applications fail to fulfil the demands of the business because of its constraints and exorbitant price.

5. Retire 

This involves identifying applications or components that are no longer needed and can be safely retired. This declutters your migration process and reduces unnecessary complexity. Some of the common scenarios where the retire strategy is applicable: 

  • When you intend to cut the application hosting and maintenance cost
  • When you are operating an application that uses an OS or component that is no longer supported, it reduces security risks
  • When retaining or moving the application to the cloud has no business value  

6. Retain 

Some applications might not be suitable for migration due to various reasons such as regulatory requirements or technical limitations. In this strategy, you could choose to retain these applications in your current on-premises environment. Some of the common scenarios where the retain strategy is applicable: 

  • For security reasons, where you want to retain applications to maintain data residency demands. 
  • If you recently upgraded your current system, it might be worth postponing the migration until the next technical refresh. 
  • When you need to retain an application in order to migrate one or more other applications first. 

7. Risk Management 

While not always explicitly mentioned as one of the 7 Rs, risk management is an important aspect of any migration strategy. This involves identifying potential risks associated with the migration, such as data security, compliance, and performance issues, and having plans in place to mitigate these risks. 

Roadmap for Migrating to Cloud 

Migrating to the cloud involves a series of strategic steps to ensure a smooth transition of your organization’s IT infrastructure and applications from on-premises to cloud environments. While the specifics of the roadmap may vary based on your organization’s needs, here’s a general outline of the process: 

  1. Assessment and Planning 

  • Understand why you want to migrate to the cloud. This could include factors like scalability, cost-efficiency, agility, and improved disaster recovery 
  • Identify which applications are suitable for migration based on factors such as compatibility, complexity, and data sensitivity 
  • Determine the volume and nature of data that needs to be migrated, including structured and unstructured data
  • Choose the appropriate cloud provider(s) based on factors like services offered, geographic presence, compliance requirements, and pricing models 

2. Proof of Concept (PoC)  

Select a small, non-critical application or workload to migrate as proof of concept. This helps you validate your migration strategy, identify challenges, and gain experience with the cloud platform. 

3. Design and Architecture 

  • Plan how your applications and services will be architected in the cloud. Consider factors like availability, scalability, security, and compliance 
  • Define the network architecture, including virtual networks, subnets, and connectivity options

4. Data Migration 

  • Determine the appropriate data migration strategy (lift and shift, re-platforming, refactoring, etc.) based on the application’s complexity and requirements
  • Execute the data migration process, ensuring data integrity and minimal downtime

5. Application Migration 

  • Deploy and configure the necessary infrastructure components in the cloud environment
  • Migrate application code, configurations, and dependencies
  • Test the migrated applications thoroughly to ensure they function as expected in the cloud environment

6. Testing and Validation 

  • Conduct various types of testing, including functional testing, performance testing, security testing, and disaster recovery testing
  • Address any issues or discrepancies that arise during testing

7. Training and Skill Development 

  • Provide training to your IT team on cloud-specific tools, services, and best practices
  • Build the necessary skills within your organization to manage and monitor the cloud environment effectively

8. Security and Compliance 

  • Implement robust security measures, including identity and access management, encryption, and compliance controls
  • Ensure that your migration aligns with industry and regulatory compliance requirements

9. Optimization 

  • Continuously monitor and optimize your cloud resources for cost efficiency and performance
  • Take advantage of cloud-native services to enhance the capabilities of your applications

Cloud migration

8 Cloud Migration Challenges and Ways to Mitigate Them 

Now that you understand the benefits of cloud migration and how to kick-start the migration process, let’s check on some of the common challenges every organization faces and the best ways to mitigate them. 

1. Lack of cloud migration strategy  


You will fail to garner the desired results when you dive into the migration process without a well-hatched strategy. This may result in resentment that heaps of money and effort were invested in a failing solution. 


The only way to overcome this challenge is to plan every possible result. Before mapping out the plan ask questions such as these: What are my end goals? Did I set the right expectations for my team? Did I check all the platform dependencies and carry out an out-and-out risk evaluation? This will help you in optimizing performance and accomplishing your migration goals. 

2. Data Security and Compliance  


Ensuring data security and compliance during migration and after it’s in the cloud. There’s a high chance for data breaches to occur due to misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, or attacks targeting cloud resources. If sensitive data is not secured properly, it could be exposed to unauthorized access. The risk is quite common when data is migrated through unsecured networks. 


Evaluate the types of data being migrated and the associated risks to determine the appropriate security measures. Using encrypted data and Identity and Access Management (IAM) at rest and in migration can go a long way in safeguarding your data against intervention and unauthorized access. Continuously monitor cloud resources for any vulnerabilities and keep yourself updated with their security features and updates. 

3. Skill Gap and Training  


Lack of expertise in managing and optimizing cloud resources. 

Inadequate understanding of cloud services and configurations can result in misconfigurations which in turn can end in data breaches, downtime, or compliance violations. If the in-house team is left unprepared to embrace the changes, you will fail to garner results from the migration process.  


Providing training to IT teams, hiring cloud experts or partnering with industry experts can help bridge the skills gap and ensure successful cloud migration. Start off with smaller cloud projects to gradually build skills and confidence before divulging into complex migrations to maximize the benefits. 

4. Application Compatibility  


Legacy applications might not be compatible with the cloud environment. It is significant to map existing applications based on LAN/WAN perimeters which can be a backbreaking work for the organizations. If the mapping is not done correctly, it may lead to performance and latency issues in the cloud environment.   


In order to overcome the application compatibility challenges, you can re-structure or re-architect your existing applications to fit in well with the cloud environment. You can opt for containerization or Platform as a Service (PaaS) to enhance compatibility and support. 

5. Downtime and Disruption  


Minimizing downtime and service disruption during migration.  

Downtime, disruptions, and loss of functionalities are common events when migrating from on-premises to a cloud environment. Though it’s considered to be a minor challenge by most organizations, it may lead to customer dissatisfaction, loss of sales, customer churn and a decline in employee productivity. 


Plan migration during off-peak hours, implement hybrid solutions for gradual migration and conduct thorough testing before going live. 

To overcome this challenge, you should conduct a detailed evaluation of your existing environment to pinpoint possible points of failure and chalk up an all-inclusive strategy that minimizes downtime, testing and rollback procedures. 

6. Data Transfer and Bandwidth  


Transferring large amounts of data to the cloud can be time-consuming and expensive.   


Addressing data migration and bandwidth challenges requires careful planning, the right tools and strategies, and consideration of factors like data volume, network limitations, and business requirements. Use data compression, leverage offline data transfer methods, and prioritize critical data for transfer. 

7. Cost Management  


Due to the dynamic nature of cloud resources, pre-planning cost management can be a challenging task. Unlike traditional IT infrastructure, cloud resources can easily be scaled up or down as per your business demands. It may lead to overspending if not carefully managed. On top of that, you may have to allocate more budget for data transfer fees, storage fees and other hidden charges that may pop up from time to time.  


To mitigate these challenges, you should adopt robust cost management practices, such as regular monitoring, resource optimization, implementing budget controls, utilizing cost management tools, and educating teams about cloud cost dynamics. 

8. Vendor Lock-In   


Avoiding vendor-specific technologies that might lead to dependency. This challenge arises when migration from utilized cloud service platforms (CSPs) to other platforms becomes intricate and pricey. It can be because of factors such as proprietary APIs, data structures, and custom configurations used by CSPs.  


To mitigate vendor lock-in, opt for open standards and architectures for your applications. Choose technologies that promote interoperability across different platforms. Build applications with portability in mind and require zero to no re-architecture. By following these practices, you enhance flexibility and avoid becoming dependent on one CSP. 

Final Thoughts  

Despite the different challenges associated with cloud migration, its benefits outweigh the challenges. Cloud computing offers enhanced operations efficiency, cost savings, faster time-to-market and access to robust tools and trending technologies, which may not be feasible with traditional infrastructure. Comprehending each challenge and mitigating them can help you leverage cloud computing and its benefits. With a proven strategy and the rightly skilled team in place, you can successfully navigate the migration process and achieve instant results.  

Do you need help with cloud migration? Zuci has a team of battle-tested cloud experts who can help you evaluate risks, strategize better plans and ensure a smooth and successful cloud transition.   

Contact us today and let us know your problem statement. We can whip up a workable solution to work things through. 

Ameena Siddiqa

Advocate personality living by her own wisdom and intuition when not igniting the spark of wonders in the hearts of readers.

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