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Modern cloud adoption paths: Which one is right for you?

Originally published on August 8, 2020 at

Cloud computing has been one of the more prominent technological phenomena in recent years. Companies across geographies and industries are turning to cloud services to access a range of features and capabilities that augment their products, simplify management, improve ROI, reduce capital expenditure, and significantly improve scalability to meet rapidly growing demand.

In a company’s quest to unlock these benefits, organizations are embarking on their own cloud-migration journeys. Because each journey is unique, it’s important to realize that cloud adoption isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Realizing the cloud-computing benefits depends on each organization’s unique business model, timeline, and other dependencies portrayed by their legacy software and applications. Companies must carefully consider their objectives when adopting the cloud: what migration path will help you fulfill your goals, and what considerations lie beyond technological adoption?

There is more than one path to cloud adoption

After considering the viability of the cloud for your business objectives, the next step involves assessing the various paths of cloud migration that differ in speed, comprehensiveness, and outcomes. As we explore the spectrum of cloud adoption approaches, we’ve identified several distinct approaches that organizations tend to follow—each with their own benefits and tradeoffs.

  • Life and shift: Copy and paste legacy workloads and processes to the cloud. This approach gets you to the cloud quickly but comes with very few actual cloud benefits.

  • Refactor: Identify low hanging fruit to modernize with minimal effort. Easily replace legacy infrastructure with cloud PaaS services.

  • Containers: Modernize server management and configuration and automate application deployment with no rewrite required.

  • Serverless: Manage code only, with no servers required. With this fully managed approach, you pay for only what you consume, not what you provision.

While the lift-and-shift approach may sound like the path of least resistance, this method yields many fewer cloud benefits and carries forward much of the same fragility and static nature found in the data center. On the other end of the spectrum, companies might choose to go fully cloud-native and use infrastructure technology such as serverless computing or containers, refactoring their applications to work effectively in these environments. This approach might require more upfront consideration but yields significant improvements in scalability, reliability, portability, efficiency, and ROI in the long run.

As these approaches veer towards cloud-native infrastructures, they tend to require an upfront investment of increased time and effort to manage the initial complexity. However, you realize the payoff in the long-term benefits that offer a well-structured migration, which is future-proof and offers access to more advantages derived from the cloud.

The benefits of cloud native

If your business could greatly benefit from the cloud’s unique capabilities, going cloud native and adopting technologies such as containers and serverless computing to host your applications can yield the greatest value. Your organization’s data, now stored on data lakes, can not only feed your applications and workloads, but it can also feed into machine learning and data analytics algorithms to derive insights to improve business processes and discover untapped opportunities. Furthermore, cloud-native approaches enhance tasks, such as security monitoring and application development, streamlining and accelerating them through automation and agile development workflows.

Going cloud native allows you to leverage event-driven architectures so that you pay only when events are triggered, minimizing expenditure on idle resources. The pace of innovation is also significantly improved through accelerated iteration releases and new feature development. By representing services and Infrastructure-as-code, environments become repeatable. Because you can launch them in minutes, development teams can spin up environments concurrently and perform tests without having to wait for procurement, allowing them to verify, package, and deploy application versions to production quickly.

Evolving beyond technology

Adopting a cloud-native strategy means that you have to implement changes beyond just the technology. You might need organizational changes across people and processes for an effective and prudent migration.

Your company should organize teams to follow an agile approach, removing blockages and hurdles wherever possible. Teams might also need to take application ownership from development to production, and members might need to acquire new skill sets to develop effectively on the cloud. Employ processes such as agile delivery, DevOps culture, CI/CD, and rapid iteration in weekly sprints to avoid creating process bottlenecks when trying to achieve the full pace of delivery afforded by the cloud. Finally, implement automation, by using pipelines such as Migration-as-code and Infrastructure-as-code, as well as automating application testing to maximize the acceleration of innovation and time to production.

What’s next?

The next step is to choose a strategy to move your workloads and applications effectively, minimizing disruption and maximizing realized benefits. These can range from developing a cloud foundation for proofs-of-concept to deploying existing applications into best-practice-defined landing zones. By using Migration-as-code pipelines, you can undertake large scale migrations of many applications in a controlled but expedited manner. For all-new applications and development, greenfield application development enables you to leverage all the powerful and unique cloud-native features such as continuous scalability. It also offers the flexibility of event-driven architectures, where you pay for only the resources you use, realizing savings when workloads are idle.

To learn about these strategies in detail or gain more insights into how you can implement an optimal cloud migration for your business, watch our Modern Cloud Adoption Webinar. This webinar dives deeper into the various paths to cloud adoption and discusses AWS tools and accelerators, such as the Pre-Migration Cost Assessment or the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework that guides you through your migration effort.

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Ross Lawrie

As a Customer Solution Architect, Ross brings nearly 10 years of experience in AWS to help our customers achieve success and scale on AWS. Every day, he revels in the opportunity to explore brand new technologies, push his knowledge and experience forward, and take on challenges from our customers. Having been through many Cloud migrations and transformations, he’s thrilled to empower and energize organizations to embrace AWS.

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