Why Gaining Control of Your Business Applications Should Be Your First Priority

Application Migration: Risks, Strategies, and Best Practices

Read Time: 6 minutes

The application migration process can be complex, as not all applications need the same treatment. Let’s look at the most common approaches, and the kinds of application migration that they suit best. These approaches are great for any project, such as AWS application migration, or application migration to Azure, so think broad! (For more information, see our Guide to Cloud Migration.)

In this article:

What is Application Migration?

Simply put, application migration is any project where you’re moving your software applications from one place to another. While this is usually moving applications from on-premises to the cloud, such as when you migrate an on premise application to Azure, it can also be from one data center on-premises to another, or from a public to a private cloud, one public cloud to another, or any other variation. 

Back in 2010, Gartner published the 5 R’s of application migration, which were Rehost, Refactor, Revise, Rebuild, and Replace. In 2016, AWS jumped in and changed this to 6 R’s, adding Retire, and Retain to the mix. Since then, they’ve also added Relocate, which is specifically about moving VMware VMs to VMC environments.

Getting a little complicated? Let’s look at the important kinds of application migration services, and you can work out which of these R’s should be on your own R… your Roadmap that is!

8 Reasons to Migrate an Application to a New Environment

Migrating an application to a new environment can offer several benefits, which include:

  1. Cost savings: Migration can help reduce infrastructure and operational costs by moving from costly on-premises data centers to more cost-effective cloud platforms, which offer pay-as-you-go pricing models.
  2. Scalability: New environments, particularly cloud platforms, provide better scalability options, allowing businesses to quickly adjust resources to meet changing demands without significant investments in hardware.
  3. Improved performance: Migrating to a modern infrastructure can enhance application performance through optimized resource allocation, faster processing capabilities, and more efficient storage systems.
  4. Enhanced security: New environments may offer better security features, compliance measures, and regular updates to protect applications from evolving cyber threats.
  5. Access to advanced technologies: Migrating to a new environment can enable businesses to leverage advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data analytics, which may not be available in their existing infrastructure.
  6. Easier maintenance and support: Modern platforms often provide better tools and support for application maintenance, updates, and monitoring, simplifying the management process.
  7. Business continuity and disaster recovery: Migration can improve resilience against unexpected downtime or data loss by utilizing redundancy and backup features available in new environments.
  8. Vendor independence: Migrating to a new environment can help businesses avoid vendor lock-in and provide more flexibility in choosing the best services and solutions to meet their needs.

Application Migration Risks

Application migration comes with several risks that need to be carefully managed to ensure a successful transition. Some common risks include:

  • Downtime: A migration can result in unplanned downtime, causing disruptions to business operations and potentially affecting customer satisfaction.
  • Data loss or corruption: During migration, data may be lost or corrupted due to technical issues, human error, or compatibility problems between the old and new environments.
  • Cost overruns: Unforeseen challenges or complexities during migration can lead to higher costs than initially estimated, impacting the budget and return on investment.
  • Performance degradation: In some cases, migrating an application to a new environment may result in reduced performance if the application is not properly optimized for the target platform.
  • Security vulnerabilities: The migration process may inadvertently introduce new security vulnerabilities or expose sensitive data, putting the application and its users at risk.
  • Insufficient testing: Inadequate testing of the migrated application can result in undetected errors, which may affect performance, security, and overall user experience.
  • User resistance: Users may resist adopting the migrated application, particularly if they are not adequately trained or informed about the benefits and changes resulting from the migration.
  • Project management challenges: Coordinating and managing the various stages and stakeholders involved in the migration process can be complex, potentially leading to delays or miscommunications.

To mitigate these risks, organizations should develop a comprehensive migration strategy, conduct thorough planning and assessment, allocate sufficient resources, perform adequate testing, and engage in effective communication and change management practices.

Application Migration Strategies

Rehost (Lift and Shift Application Migration)

This approach means simply moving an application from one location to another, without any changes. You just redeploy the application in question to the new environment. Think about migrating VMs to a public cloud account, or moving applications from one secure on-premises data center to another. It’s the fastest approach, and will have the least impact on other applications.

Learn how you can gain full network visibility in virtual environments

Of course, there are downsides to this approach to application migration, too. As you have simply rehoused them without any changes, they won’t get any of the benefits of cloud computing, and they won’t be optimized for cloud costing, either. In the long run, these may need some modifications to make the processes more efficient and cost-effective in their new environment.

Refactor (Rip and Replace Application Migration)

This one has a few names, such as re-architecting or replacing, but it’s about changing the application so that it’s ready for the cloud, by changing code or architecture to something more effective for the new environment. Here you need to be more aware of the application dependencies, something Faddom works with every day – your can grab a free trial and test it out yourself.

Simply put, when you make changes to one application, you need to make sure that it won’t impact the behavior of the application or any others. If you’re moving this application to the cloud so that you can add scale, features, or flexibility – it will likely need some refactoring along the way. Faddom can help you to work out your ‘minimum viable refactoring’, the amount of change you need to make to get the results that you need, with the least impact on the rest of your environment.

Repurchase (Drop and Shop Application Migration)

Sometimes, it’s just going to be too complex to refactor your applications to get them ready for migration, or you won’t get the end results that you’re looking for. In this case, it would make sense to simply drop, or “Retire” the systems in question, and then use a subscription or an outright purchase to meet the gap. Third party systems are often much more efficient, cost-effective and simple to manage, with the vendor handling a lot of the behind the scenes maintenance and support.

For SMBs, this could be a smarter way to access all the functionality that they need, without building in-house applications from scratch. It can also allow organizations to move away from legacy complexity or on-premises systems that are impossible to refactor or rehost.

You may find this useful – Faddom’s Cloud Migration Tool

Retain (Keep and Consider Application Migration)

Of course, if the right solution isn’t out there for replacement, or you aren’t ready to retire certain applications, you can always retain them, just keep them as they are, either on-premises or on a different cloud environment, and then reconsider your situation further down the line. Reasons for retaining your applications in their current environment could be that it’s an unaffordable project right now, it’s too large to be migrated as a whole, or you can’t afford the application downtime at this point in your business process.

Application Migration Best Practices

To ensure a successful application migration, consider implementing the following best practices:

  • Assess and plan: Thoroughly assess your current application environment, including dependencies, performance, and security requirements. Develop a detailed migration plan outlining objectives, timelines, resource allocation, and potential risks.
  • Choose the right migration strategy: Select a migration strategy based on your application’s complexity, requirements, and desired outcome.
  • Prioritize security: Ensure that security measures are in place throughout the migration process. Assess the security capabilities of the target environment and implement necessary controls to protect sensitive data and maintain compliance with industry standards.
  • Test and validate: Before executing the migration, perform comprehensive testing to identify potential issues and ensure compatibility with the new environment. Once the migration is complete, validate the application’s functionality, performance, and security to ensure a seamless transition.
  • Communicate with stakeholders: Keep all relevant stakeholders informed throughout the migration process. This includes providing updates on progress, addressing concerns, and managing expectations.
  • Leverage automation: Utilize automation tools to streamline the migration process, minimize human errors, and reduce downtime.
  • Provide user training and support: Train users on the new environment, including any changes in functionality or user experience, and provide ongoing support to ensure a smooth transition.
  • Monitor and optimize: Continuously monitor the migrated application’s performance, security, and resource usage. Use analytics and performance data to identify areas for optimization and make adjustments as needed.
  • Establish a rollback plan: In case of migration failure or significant issues, have a rollback plan in place to restore the application to its original environment with minimal disruption.
  • Learn from experience: After completing the migration, document lessons learned, and use this knowledge to improve future migration projects.

Application Migration Tools

What Are Application Migration Tools?

Application migration tools perform or assist with the migration of an application from one IT environment to another. This can be done from one on-premises data center to another, from on-premises to the cloud, between cloud providers, or from the cloud back to on-premises.

Features of Application Migration Tools

Application migration software typically consists of the following types of tools:

  • A technology facilitator
  • A hardware solution
  • A service, or A software app

Examples of Application Migration Tools

Some popular application migration tools are AppClarity, Carbonite Availability, Altoros, Migration Manager, CloudEndure, Red Hat Application Migration Toolkit, Citrix AppDNA, Flexera AdminStudio, CloudSwitch, VirtaMove, and CloudAtlas.

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