What exactly makes a cloud-to-cloud migration different from a regular cloud migration?
Cloud migration traditionally refers to moving on-premises (legacy) architecture, infrastructure and systems into a cloud (digital) platform. For businesses starting their transformation journey, it’s a frequently used term - for companies already in the cloud, not so much.
So what about cloud-mature organisations that want to move applications and workloads from one provider to another - for example, migrating workloads from Microsoft Azure and hosting them in AWS Cloud?
This is exactly what a cloud-to-cloud migration entails, and it’s an increasingly common scenario as companies continue to grow beyond their current provider’s capabilities and need more options (i.e. a multicloud environment) to accommodate and scale with their drivers.
In this article, we breakdown exactly what a cloud-to-cloud migration is, why it’s considered and its many potential benefits. We also list 3 key steps to take for a successful cloud-to-cloud migration, as part of your evolving transformation journey.
What is a cloud-to-cloud migration?
Cloud-to-cloud migration is when a business is moving data, processes and/or systems from one public (or private) cloud provider into another. Moving from one Software as a Service (SaaS) application to the next, and adopting (and implementing ) a multicloud strategy all involve instances of a cloud-to-cloud migration.
Most enterprises initially migrate to one of the three major public cloud providers: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure, often to achieve common business outcomes like reduced infrastructure cost, infrastructure modernisation and greater security. The cloud provided some quick wins in all of these areas.
Eventually, as business needs change and growth ensues, many enterprises have naturally begun exploring the many capabilities and services-offered on other platforms - and with more companies running the majority of their applications and workloads in the public cloud, cloud-to-cloud migrations are only becoming more relevant.
Why do a cloud-to-cloud migration?
Cloud to-cloud migrations become part of the conversation once a business has achieved sufficient maturity with their digital environment, and may need new capabilities offered on other cloud platforms to meet new needs - after all, business goals and pain-points evolve with time. Examining your options on other clouds is part of that.
For example, you may have chosen to migrate on-premise infrastructure to AWS for resilience, but now require additional data analytics and AI capabilities - and identify Microsoft Azure’s Data Services (Power BI, Azure Machine Learning Studio) as more suitable tooling for your needs, compared to AWS's current offerings.
Another more common scenario is you want to leverage separate cloud providers for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) needs, or you use one provider for production (AWS), and another as a DR target (Azure) for your on-premises environment.
A cloud-to-cloud migration is most often considered when the following factors occur:
- Cost savings: An enterprise’s ‘main’ cloud provider may be charging premium prices for a particular service, while another provider may offer more competitive rates for the same capability. For example, businesses using AWS Reserved Instances (RI) for Windows VMs may look to Azure to leverage deals with Azure Reserved VM Instances in combination with Azure Hybrid Benefit to get up to 67% in additional cost savings - and utilise their Software Assurance to save more on Azure.
- Compliance: Depending on the industry sector, compliance for applications and data hosted in the cloud varies. An audit or review of assets may lead a business to consider re-hosting or migrating workloads to a platform that better suits their unique compliance needs.
- Internal skill set: The in-house expertise and/or the skill set of external consulting partners often influence enterprises towards exploring other cloud platforms in order to fill capability gaps or accommodate growth that can’t be sustained on a single cloud.
- Portability/No vendor lock-In: Implementing a multi-cloud architecture platform allows for portability in how, where and when applications and workloads are run in the cloud. It enables enterprises to select the best services from each cloud platform that cater to their specific business needs and objectives without unnecessary over reliance on one provider. A single cloud may not always be able to deliver capabilities you need; the option to utilise capabilities on competing public clouds and avoiding vendor lock-in is one of the biggest drivers for digital leaders exploring cloud-to-cloud migration today.
Other common scenarios for considering a cloud-to-cloud migration include:
- Additional environments to cater to specific line-of-business application compatibilities
- Better service-level agreements (SLAs)
- Integration and API opportunities
- Speedier application and workload performance and deployment
Any of all of these reasons can be decent drivers to make the business case for a cloud-to-cloud migration. However, without a multicloud strategy or multicloud architecture prepared before you make the move to another cloud provider, you could potentially increase complexity, cost and risk with your migration - rather than reduce it.
The current state of cloud-to-cloud migrations
Cloud-to-cloud migration is becoming more common as multicloud adoption ramps up and enterprises globally continue to experience digital transformation maturity.
Leading research firms like Gartner discovered 81% of of public cloud users now work with two or more providers. Meanwhile, RightScale’s 2019 State of the Cloud Survey found respondents are already running their app in a combination of 3.4 public and private clouds and experimenting with 1.5 more, for a total of 4.9 clouds.
Many of these businesses are moving on from single-cloud deployment to multiple providers (multicloud) on a case-by-case basis, usually to take advantage of specific services and capabilities not available on their initial provider of choice that drive their evolving outcomes.
Currently, there are several cloud-native toolsets offered directly by major public cloud providers that streamline the process for businesses and are worth investigating - in conjunction with an expert consulting partner to guide your use of each tool-set.
Azure to AWS Cloud Migration
Currently, the AWS Server Migration Service (SMS) is the best service for migrating your virtual machines (VMs) running in Microsoft Azure to Amazon Web Services.
SMS previously helped move on-premises VM workloads like Microsoft Hyper-V migrate to AWS Cloud, and now (as of April 2019) extends to Azure. It heavily streamlines the process of moving existing applications from Azure to AWS by grouping applications together as a unit, rather than having to replicate individual servers or deal with application dependencies.
AWS Server Migration Service presently enables businesses to:
- Automate, schedule and track incremental replications of live server volumes
- Make large-scale server migrations between the two services easier to manage
- Realise greater performance, reduced cloud spend and additional security features
Businesses who opt for an Azure to AWS migration using this migration tool currently only pay for AWS resources like Elastic Block Store and EC2 instances once their VMs are successfully moved onto AWS.
AWS to Azure Cloud Migration
Since 2015, Microsoft has offered businesses the ability to migrate virtual machines hosted on AWS Cloud to Azure Cloud using Azure Site Recovery (ASR).
When you move AWS EC2 instances to Azure using ASR, the toolset treats the VMs are physical, on-premises computers.
You need to set up infrastructure components in Azure using Site Recovery Vault, before following the clear steps with an automated quick start wizard to discover VMs on AWS and kickstart the replication, run a test failover and then the migration. The tooling has been heavily streamlined since its launch, with plenty of helpful official documentation and walkthroughs available from Microsoft.
Zerto IT Resilience Platform
There are many platform agnostic third-party vendors that offer extensive cloud-to-cloud specific migration tools to help enterprises on their journey to multicloud and fill in other capability gaps that the cloud-native tools aren’t able to provide. The best ones offer cross-cloud flexibility and portability, and make it easy for organisations to move between providers with minimal technical roadblocks while consolidating many essential capabilities (backup, DR, site recovery) that naturally comes with a migration.
The Zerto IT Resilience Platform is one service that fulfils this key role. It converges backup, disaster recovery and workload migration to, from and/or between major public (and private) cloud platforms and allows for simultaneous replication of VMs locally, to or from an on-premise datacenter, Azure, AWS and over 350 other cloud providers.
In addition, Zerto's tooling allows for continuous data protection, and has built-in automation and orchestration and automation for every step of the migration journey, providing increased efficiency while helping save on costs and resources. It also bundles analytics with intelligent dashboards for multicloud visibility across all environments.
For businesses at various stages of transformation - mostly on-premises, hybrid cloud, or single-cloud, it opens up a wealth of possibilities in the multicloud - in one platform.
For cloud-to-cloud migrations, and even on-premises or hybrid platforms, Zerto is one of the top recommended services for those seeking to achieve enterprise mobility with their multicloud transformation journey.
While these cloud-to-cloud migration options are available to use, it's important to take these 3 steps before you make the move to multicloud.
#1 - Approach cloud-to-cloud migration with a strategic framework
Cloud-to-cloud migrations absolutely requires thorough planning and a roadmap to guide both your business leaders and IT team to success - and to avoid unnecessary risk and complexity.
We talk with customers that have moved to another cloud with the intention of decreasing cloud spend only to find, without appropriate planning put into the migration, their costs and complexity actually increased - an unnecessary new set of pain-points they originally wished to negate.
Some essential points to identify and evaluate in your cloud-to-cloud migration strategy:
- Architecture compatibilities and dependencies: Business critical applications rarely are able to be ‘lift-and-shift’-ed from one cloud to another without some examining or understanding of app architecture. Your plan must outline configurations, dependencies and coding infrastructure prior to any migration to avoid technical roadblocks.
- Hidden costs: Many cloud providers charge data egress when you move apps and workloads to another provider, and such costs are often overlooked and can provide particularly bad sticker shock for organisations with a lot of assets to migrate.
- Skillset: Is your internal IT ready for a cloud-to-cloud migration? Many engineers may be experienced in on-premises to cloud transitions, but don’t assume your team will be able to navigate a multicloud deployment off-the-bat. There needs to be ample time for training and transition of skills in order to allow for a cloud-to-cloud migration that follows best practices and optimal framework.
Take the time to work through the key drivers for your cloud-to-cloud migration with your team, examine compatibility requirements and whether the technical capabilities of another cloud can fully realise your desired business outcomes at a lower cost, with increased capability and reduced risk.
#2 - Plan for cross-cloud migration and integration
For most cases, AWS and Microsoft Azure’s current cloud-to-cloud tooling is sufficient to facilitate Azure to AWS migrations and AWS to Azure Migrations with minimal complications.
However, it’s worth examining other third-party vendors and solutions that specifically cater to cross-cloud migrations and integrations, which allow you to manage everything - DR, site recovery and backup alongside migration - in a single, scalable platform to, from and between the multicloud provider’s you wish to use.
Solutions like Zerto’s IT Resilience Platform enhance multicloud environments by providing a single management platform to ensure:
- Continuous availability for every multicloud environment you have
- Full visibility to manage and optimise multicloud environments and represent them with intelligent dashboards
- Converged backup and DR along with data protection and compliance for each and every cloud environment you have, across providers
For cloud-to-cloud migrations, we recommend examining tooling like Zerto to enhance your move into the multicloud and ensure configuration and optimisation receives as much attention as the migration itself.
#3 - Partner with an experienced cloud-to-cloud consultancy
While the big three public cloud providers (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud) currently offer helpful cloud-to-cloud migration toolsets, additional documentation on the process of moving from one cloud to another is a lot more scarce.
Given that every organisation’s reasons and intended use cases are different, the overall effectiveness of these cloud-native migration tool sets as they are become limited.
If in-house skillset is limited in multicloud, partnering with consultancies like Xello is recommended to help build a business case that identifies key requirements, outlines technical compatibilities to address and aligns your business strategy with your cloud-to-cloud migration.
For example, an organisation on AWS may want to move business-critical applications to Azure using ASR and a lift-and-shift approach, without realising technical incompatibilities, such as the server OS being non-Microsoft.
Partners such as Xello can help build a multicloud strategy and roadmap that provides you with a robust decision framework to evaluate every aspect of your current workloads (architecture, financial, risk, operations, security), determine which migration approach (replace, rebuild, rehost, refactor) is optimal for your specific multicloud business case, and whether a cloud-to-cloud migration with your chosen platforms - and the multicloud in general - is the ideal option to achieve your objectives.
Do you need additional assistance to figure out if your enterprise is ready for a cloud-to-cloud migration? The next step is to get a cloud-to-cloud readiness assessment.