6 Cloud Experts Tell Us About the Best Application Migration Strategy

Posted by

Six leading cloud experts share the do’s and don’ts of choosing which applications to migrate to the cloud in Part 3 of our cloud migration expert roundup series.

Yes, migrating to the cloud is happening, and big-time. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a few challenges ahead.

The biggest obstacles in cloud migration, according to the 2017 Cloud Migration Survey Report, are minimizing downtime, preventing performance disruptions, and staying within budget. Issues like data loss and keeping security standards are also among top concerns of IT professionals.

Download Cloud Migration Report

Keeping that in mind, we decided to ask six cloud experts to give us some advice in this five-part series on cloud migration. They started it off by sharing their best tips for on-premise to cloud migration in Part 1. Then, in Part 2, they shared their best and worst migration stories, including a fascinating account of cloud migration gone awry in a U.S. government organization.

Now in Part 3, we’ve asked the experts which applications should be migrated to the cloud and which, if any, should remain on-premise. This is a key question for IT departments looking for the most cost-effective and seamless migration to the cloud.

Part 1: What Is the Best Strategy for On-Premise to Cloud Migration?

Part 2: What Is Your Best (or Worst) Migration Story?

Part 3: Which Applications Should I Migrate to the Cloud and Which Should I Keep On-Premise? (see below)

Part 4: Why Are CEOs and CIOs Still Hesitant About Cloud Migration?

Part 5: How Do I Minimize Downtime During Migration?

Which applications should I migrate to the cloud and which should I keep on-premise?

Cloud Expert Kevin Jackson

Kevin L. Jackson Cloud Computing Technical Fellow at Engility Corporation and Founder of Cloud Musings
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized cloud computing expert, independent thought leader for IBM and Dell, and founder of the award-winning Cloud Musings blog. In 2015, he was recognized as a “Top 50 Cloud Computing Blogger for IT Integrators” by CRN.

Don’t migrate applications that are:

  • Tightly coupled
  • Require specific technology or special customization
  • Not designed from the start to run in a multi-tenant environment
  • Can’t leverage scaling and elasticity to improve revenue or margin

Keep these applications on-premise. The preference isn’t to migrate, but rather to adopt a cloud native service or application to quickly deliver industry-changing services your customers are dying to consume!

Application migration is akin to paving the cow path.

'Application migration is akin to paving the cow path.' @Kevin_Jackson Click To Tweet

Download this free report to get even more cloud migration best practices and trends.

Cloud Expert James Bond

James Bond Cloud Chief Technologist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)
James Bond has 25+ years of experience in roles such as CTO, COO, and Chief Architect. He is a trusted advisor and subject matter expert providing cloud strategy, guidance, and implementation planning to C-level customers through executive briefings and conference presentations. In 2015, James published The Enterprise Cloud: Best Practices for Transforming Legacy IT.

Given the wide variety of applications that organizations rely upon, there’s no “one size fits all” cloud service. Organizations should evaluate each of their existing applications to determine the legacy application’s suitability to transition to the cloud.

There are several application migration strategies to choose from, including:

  • Replacing an application with a software-as-a-service cloud offering
  • Consolidate and/or retire applications no longer needed
  • Port or shift the application to a cloud service often using virtual machines
  • Re-develop the application as a cloud native app (e.g. leveraging micro-services, containers)  

The value of each legacy application, along with the benefit of migrating to the cloud, should be assessed based on the value and benefit to the overall organization — not solely based on what the traditional IT department “tech people” believe.

'Each application should be assessed not solely based on what tech people believe.' James Bond Click To Tweet

There will likely be low-hanging fruit such as email and file sharing that can quickly be migrated to the cloud and produce a return on investment. The most critical applications that serve an organization’s customers are often the most complex and challenging to migrate, and therefore, may require the most time and cost to redevelop into a cloud native application.

Finally, there will be applications or data sets that the organization may consider too risky or costly to migrate and therefore should remain a traditional internal IT application for now.

Cloud Expert Mathieu Pierret

Matheiu Pierret Cloud Enablement Leader at Cloudreach
Mathieu Pierret is the Cloud Leader for Cloudreach based in Paris. Passionate about IT Transformation and Cloud Computing, Mathieu has more than 15 years of experience in IT project management (he is a certified ScrumMaster and AWS Solution Architect Associate) and manages strategic platforms.

All applications can be migrated to the cloud, unless there are business or compliance criteria that prevents this.

Also,  an application should be kept on-premise if it is too old and/or it is running on an unsupported OS, as this may require complex refactoring.

If an application cannot be moved to the cloud as is, the first question is to ask if you can retire it. If not, then a business case should be built with following options:

  •      Keep it on premise until its end of life
  •      Repurchase a modern application to replace it
  •      Refactor it for the cloud
'If an application cannot be moved to the cloud as is, ask if you can retire it.' Matheiu Pierret Click To Tweet


Cloud Expert Tom Ray

Tom Ray Head of Cloudreach, USA at Cloudreach
Tom Ray has 18 years of experience in enterprise IT and has spent the last 6 years working specifically in cloud computing. After acting as the Global Head of Operations and Cloud Enablement at Cloudreach, Tom now leads the sales and cloud enablement teams for Cloudreach across North America.

There are a number of factors which could mean that an applications should not move — e.g. incompatible operating systems (HP-UX, Solaris), the effort of moving doesn’t stack up in the business case, very low latency connectivity required, applications needing access to physical hardware (think dongles for licensing), etc. In summary, almost anything can move, however, each one should be considered on an effort vs. reward basis compared to the business case.

'Each application should be considered on an effort vs. reward basis.' Tom Ray Click To Tweet

Cloud Expert Jeffrey Kaplan

Jeffrey Kaplan Cloud Computing Strategy Consultant at THINKstrategies, Inc.
Jeff Kaplan has over 30 years of experience in IT/network management, SaaS, cloud computing, managed services, and telecommunications. In addition to founding and serving as the managing director of THINKstrategies, Jeff has spent years as a research analyst, corporate executive, strategic consultant, featured columnist, and industry speaker. Kaplan was named among the Top 50 Cloud Bloggers of 2015 by the Channel Company and CRN.

Moving workloads from on-premise resources to the cloud should be determined by the following factors: the cost of maintaining the current on-premise software and systems, the rate of innovation of the software and systems, the access requirements, and security considerations.

'Migration should be determined in part by cost of maintaining on-prem software.' Jeffrey Kaplan Click To Tweet

Discover the 5 leading methods for cloud migration in this free eBook.

Cloud Expert Ofer Gadish

Ofer Gadish CEO at CloudEndure
Ofer Gadish, the CEO and co-founder of CloudEndure, is a serial entrepreneur and prolific innovator. He has over 16 years of experience in senior management positions, both in startups and established corporations. Ofer was previously the CEO and co-founder of AcceloWeb and VP & General Manager in Limelight Networks after its acquisition of AcceloWeb.

Almost any application that runs on an operating system that is supported by the cloud can be migrated. And in my opinion, that means almost all applications should be migrated to the cloud.

'All applications CAN be migrated, so IMO all applications SHOULD be migrated.' Ofer Gadish Click To Tweet

The only applications that you may want to keep on premise temporarily are applications that run on operating systems that are not supported by the cloud (i.e. not Windows or Linux). And in these cases, you should either re-architecture your application, use a different operating system, or retire the application.

The main concern that I hear from companies as to why they want to keep cloud-supported applications on-premise is regulations/security. However, the leading public clouds now have certifications that allow even hyper-compliant companies to run workloads in the cloud. So in my view, regulations/security is no longer a valid concern.

If you want to know which applications should move first, start with the ones that need the most agility and flexibility. For instance, applications and processes that see seasonal traffic spikes, frequent changes in volume, or require changes in internal structure would all benefit most from cloud migration.

We know that wisdom usually comes with experience and “learning the hard way,” which is why last month our masters shared their best (and worst) migration stories. Dive into their memories here.


download 2017 cloud migration survey report