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What are Cloud Computing and Migration Services?

Cloud computing is a dominant trend that continues to shape the application development world. This umbrella term describes various data storage and computing services, which are defined by the on-demand availability of computer system resources. Cloud computing generally functions behind the scenes through specified information services. Depending on how they're set up and delivered, these services help to manage system resources along with storage space, data access, and computing power.

Cloud computing is an integral part of the modern business operations landscape. It allows organisations to connect with their teams, partners, and stakeholders and allows them to access resources effectively regardless of their size or location. As these services expand in scope and scale, we're likely to see the further adoption and expansion of cloud technologies.

  1. According to APPS RUN THE WORLD, the cloud applications market is worth approximately $133.6 billion.
  2. Based on figures from Thales, 60% of the world's corporate data is stored in the cloud.
  3. According to data from BMC, cloud data centres use 3% of the world's energy consumption.

Cloud computing and migration services

Cloud computing is widespread and incredibly diverse, with various services available for organisations and individuals. Cloud migration describes the process of moving resources to the cloud. There are many commercial services involved with cloud migration, with different solutions available to move data, applications, and other computing resources. Cloud migration services help organisations to move their resources to the cloud while minimising risk and avoiding business disruption.

Understanding cloud computing

Cloud computing has emerged over the past 25 years, with the name initially coined in 1996 to describe the concept of distributed computing. Over this time, it has become one of the dominant information technology paradigms shaping modern commerce and culture.

The cloud provides a decoupling of computing resources and operational workflows, which allows businesses to improve flexibility and agility across the board. With reduced IT costs, enhanced scalability, and easier access to updates, businesses of all shapes and sizes can change and grow without the overheads and burdens associated with traditional equipment and data management.

Cloud computing vs. traditional computing

To understand cloud computing, it's essential to compare cloud-based solutions with traditional computing services. The term cloud represents the internet as a whole, as a broad articulation of vast data arrays and broad information services.

Cloud computing runs on external servers facilitated by third-party hosting organisations, while traditional computing happens on internal servers and physical hard drives. Traditional computing services are dependent on specifics, from hardware equipment to devices, operating systems, and backup services. In contrast, cloud-based applications and services are virtual, which gives them much greater independence.

The many benefits of cloud computing

Cloud computing is the dominant paradigm used in modern information systems. The cloud plays a critical role in most IT plans, and it offers wide-ranging advantages linked with all aspects of business performance. Migrating to the cloud offers immediate and long-term benefits, from everyday management and security concerns to ongoing cost considerations and future scalability.

The following benefits are among the most noteworthy:

Easier and more efficient management

The cloud is much more efficient than traditional digital distribution methods, which rely on physical proximity and localisation. Organisations using the cloud enjoy tighter links between infrastructure and application, along with more flexible access to critical systems. While traditional on-premises computing systems are tied to specific places, the cloud allows people to access their entire system from any location. An agile cloud-based framework is faster to adopt, easier to manage, and much more suited to the demands of the modern world.

Improved scalability and flexibility

Regardless of how they're implemented, cloud-based services are inherently elastic. Along with more efficient management, this also enables better scalability over time. Organisations using the cloud can increase or decrease resources based on demand, which provides unmatched operational flexibility and huge cost savings. Lots of factors affect business capacity, with the cloud making it easier to deal with seasonal fluctuations, consumption patterns, and other changes. Organisations using the cloud can add or remove capacity without changing their core functionality or altering their security stance.

Cost savings and boosted cash flow

With greater efficiency comes massive cost savings. While traditional on-premises solutions can be advantageous in some situations, they lack the fluidity and extended functionality of cloud-based services. Businesses using the cloud are effectively transforming capital expenditures (CAPEX) into operating expenses (OPEX), which leads to better budgeting decisions. When computing is seen as a day-to-day expense, businesses are better equipped to streamline their offerings and balance their books. The unit cost associated with service delivery is immediately reduced, and automation helps to lower costs over time.

Improved reliability and availability

Migrating to the cloud makes it easier for businesses to deliver value. Not only are legacy computing workloads clunky and inflexible, but they also lead to bottlenecks and shutdowns due to a lack of compatibility between systems. Instead, embracing the cloud offers a streamlined approach based on default connectivity and shared data between diverse systems and stakeholders. The cloud is always on, with outcomes delivered consistently and value created faster as trust builds over time.

Enhanced security and privacy

Compared to legacy computing, the cloud offers an array of data security and privacy advantages. Most security features are built-in and designed to run as default, from monitoring and authentication controls to automated patching, data backup, and compliance tools. There are three core elements central to data security, and the cloud offers benefits for all three: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Privacy is protected on multiple fronts, the existence of large providers creates trust, and data access is ensured across locations.

Types of cloud computing services

Not all cloud computing services are the same. Organisations face differences in the scope, delivery, and operational characteristics of cloud solutions. The following models describe the vast majority of cloud-based technology solutions:

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

IaaS describes a wide array of scalable and automated computing resources. IaaS is a fully self-service model for accessing and monitoring computers, networks, storage, and numerous other services over the internet. Popular IaaS tools include DigitalOcean, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco Metapod, Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine (GCE).

Platform as a service (PaaS)

PaaS describes the use of specific cloud components and tools delivered in the form of applications. PaaS is both a collection of software and a working framework for developers involved in creating custom applications. Popular PaaS tools include Windows Azure, Heroku, Google App Engine, Apache Stratos, and OpenShift.

Software as a service (SaaS)

SaaS describes specific cloud applications managed by a third-party vendor and utilised by businesses. SaaS delivers applications over the internet, most of which run directly on a web browser to enable simple installation. Popular SaaS tools include Google Workspace, Dropbox, Salesforce, Cisco Webex, and GoToMeeting.

According to Gartner, future global spending will embrace all three cloud models. SaaS spending will account for $195 billion in 2023, IaaS spending will account for $150 billion, and PaaS spending will account for $136 billion.

Cloud computing migration services

To take advantage of cloud computing services, you need to make some changes. Each organisation has different needs from the cloud, with computing assets likely to include a unique mix of products, services, databases, and applications. The cloud migration process includes a variety of services, which can be implemented at once or over an extended period.

What does cloud migration entail?

There are many ways to migrate to the cloud, with each business needing to adopt its own strategy. Cloud migration can take place on many levels, either partially or wholly. While it mostly refers to the movement away from legacy systems, it can also refer to migration from one cloud to another.

The following five cloud migration models are common, from the least disruptive strategy to the most:

  1. Rehosting is a "lift and shift" IaaS strategy that involves deploying existing data and applications on a cloud server.
  2. Refactoring is a "tweak and shift" PaaS strategy that involves adjusting and optimising existing applications for the cloud.
  3. Revising is a "modify and shift" IaaS or PaaS strategy that involves making changes to leverage the benefits of the cloud.
  4. Rebuilding is a "develop and shift" PaaS strategy that involves re-architecting to boost customisation and productivity.
  5. Replacing is a "discard and shift" SaaS strategy that involves starting fresh with new applications delivered as a service.

What are the main reasons for migrating to the cloud?

Moving to the cloud is beneficial for many reasons, most of which are listed above in detail. Whether you own a small family business, manage an emerging non-profit organisation, or operate a large multinational, most of these advantages can be summarised in the following general points:

  1. Operational efficiencies
  2. Agility and flexibility
  3. Elastic contraction and expansion
  4. Faster time to value
  5. Massive cost savings
  6. Better security and privacy
  7. Improved innovation potential

According to the Google Cloud Brand Pulse Survey from late 2022, more and more business leaders are choosing to embrace the cloud — 33.4% of respondents are planning to migrate from legacy enterprise software to cloud-based tools, and 32.8% are planning on migrating on-premises workloads to the cloud.

What steps are involved in cloud migration?

Migrating to the cloud is a multifaceted process that differs for each organisation. While some businesses migrate in one large swoop, others may take months or even years across several phases. While there is no one-size-fits-all scenario, the following four steps are suited to most situations:

  1. Assessment and planning
  2. Building a business case
  3. Execution and refinement
  4. Ongoing review and upkeep

Choosing the right cloud computing and migration services

Working with a proven cloud migration partner is advised during the migration process. Business disruption is a real risk during this phase, with organisations also likely to struggle with performance issues, security risks, compliance headaches, and potential reputation damage. An experienced cloud migration partner can help out on many levels by leveraging their technical expertise and vendor knowledge to save you time and money at every stage of the move.

What factors should you consider before migrating?

There are lots of things to think about when choosing a migration partner. From professional capabilities and experience to migration timeframes and budgets, the following factors are worthy of your consideration:

  1. Migration costs and budgeting
  2. Migration steps and timeframes
  3. Technology specialisations
  4. Team size and makeup
  5. Ongoing support services

What questions should you ask?

Despite numerous advantages, moving to the cloud is a big decision that needs to be carefully considered. During the early stages of the process, before you've decided on a partner, it's essential to do your homework. Remember, research and due diligence are always important.

Asking the following questions is a great place to start:

  1. What kind of experience does the migration team have?
  2. Have they worked with organisations of your type and size?
  3. Do they have a portfolio of past projects?
  4. What exact products and services do they provide?
  5. What steps are involved in the migration process?
  6. How long is migration likely to take?
  7. Is your organisation likely to be disrupted in the meantime?
  8. How much do they value communication during the process?

The costs involved with cloud computing and migration

Much like cloud-based technologies themselves, the cost of cloud migration varies widely. While small organisations with limited workloads can migrate successfully for a relatively low cost, larger businesses will need to spend much more. It's important to analyse migration costs towards the beginning of a project, with an expert partner able to give you an accurate working estimate.

Numerous factors influence migration costs, from the size of the organisation and its data to the length and scope of the pre-migration review. At the end of the day, the final cost of a migration project needs to be compared to the opportunity cost of not taking action.

It's important to calculate your current infrastructure and software expenses from the outset, including the cost of purchasing, operating, and maintaining present IT resources. There are lots of direct and indirect costs associated with technology, from servers and network management to storage, electricity, and IT labour. Existing costs then need to be balanced with post-migration expenses.

Estimated costs are based on the specific cloud model being implemented, along with services and applications, data storage requirements, and ongoing security demands. Most commercial cloud providers have their own online calculators for a complete overview. Whether you're moving a single app or your entire infrastructure to the cloud, it's essential to have a clear budget and timeline available at all times.

The cloud offers numerous benefits to organisations of all sizes. From increased efficiency and security standards to the improved elasticity and availability of services, operating in the cloud provides a real opportunity for growth and innovation. The migration phase is not without its challenges, however, so it's important to review your current technology stance and make smart decisions based on analysis and research. When you're ready to migrate, working with an experienced partner is the only way to move forward with clarity and confidence.

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