What is Cloud Data Migration? Everything You Need To Know

When migrating data to a cloud for the first time or moving data between clouds, you must consider all aspects of cloud data migration. Find out more here.

What is cloud data migration? Cloud data migration is moving data to a cloud computing environment or between cloud environments.

What Does it Mean to Migrate to the Cloud?

Simply put, cloud migration is the process of migrating data, applications, and other resources from one location (either an on-prem legacy solution or an existing cloud) to another cloud location.

In the earliest days of cloud computing, many organizations underwent cloud migration. They moved from legacy systems (typically on-prem media) to cloud infrastructure, which often called for radically different approaches to computing and storage. Today, most businesses are partially on the cloud, and a cloud migration might mean a total commitment to cloud services or different cloud models.

With that in mind, there are two general approaches to cloud migration:

  • Online Migration: When data is moved to its new cloud location via a network connection (either a public internet or WAN connection).
  • Offline Migration: Data is physically placed on removable media and transported to a cloud storage location.

While it might seem that the former is the most common, massive data migrations or migrations governed by strict compliance regulations may opt for the latter to control speed and security.

Cloud migration will usually not focus on data storage alone. For example, a company may migrate to a cloud provider to use a specific set of features or apps that necessitate their move to that infrastructure wholesale or to power a project that a local system simply will not support.

What Is a Cloud Migration Strategy?

Cloud migrations can get complex and long-lasting, especially if an organization doesn’t necessarily understand the goals of that migration. There must be more to migration than simply. “moving resources from one place to another.” Most large organizations have a strategy to determine their best use of the cloud.

Some cloud migration strategies include:

  • Rehosting: In this strategy, you’re most likely looking for a cloud infrastructure that can match what you already have, either identically or nearly so. In this case, you’re most likely looking at Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) migration.
  • Refactoring: You want to keep components of what you use (code, applications) but run them on a similar cloud platform. In this case, you’re likely looking at Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) migration.
  • Revising: Is your data or code base ready for the cloud? If you’re unsure, there may be some revisions to your operating applications before they are cloud-ready.
  • Rebuilding: If apps or other software need a full-scale rework (or if you’re simply taking the opportunity of the cloud migration to rework those items), then you might do best with an entire rebuild strategy, starting with a semi-clean slate on the cloud.
  • Replacing: In this strategy, you’ll simply get rid of your existing applications and use new ones, often provided through the cloud service providers, as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

To make things more complicated, you’ll also have to decide on the kind of infrastructure you’ll need, separate from your application deployment, that can support top-to-bottom operational scalability:

  • Public Cloud: Public cloud infrastructure is cheap, fast, scalable, and plentiful. Most organizations use the public cloud in some capacity to fuel customer-facing applications or other software that doesn’t require extensive security or protection.
  • Private Cloud: While not as scalable (or inexpensive) as public cloud, private cloud environments can serve as secure, reliable, and high-performance infrastructure to handle mission-critical (and regulated) data and processing demands. Furthermore, private cloud offers a level of control over configurations that public cloud just can’t offer.
  • Hybrid Cloud: A combination of public and private cloud, hybrid cloud allows you to run cloud compute and storage operations across both environments. A popular setup for high-demand enterprise and research applications, hybrid clouds bring the stability and privacy of private cloud infrastructure to public scalability, allowing organizations to enjoy both benefits.
  • Multi-Cloud: Unlike hybrid cloud, which involves running workloads across different infrastructures, multi-cloud uses completely different cloud environments (even different cloud vendors) to modularize cloud projects and avoid vendor lock-in.

What Are the Benefits of Migrating to the Cloud?

Organizations are migrating to the cloud in droves to replace their existing infrastructure or to power high-performance workloads that are simply outside the realm of traditional computing.

Some of the benefits of migrating to the cloud include:

  • Cost: Cloud computing is generally cheaper than trying to power your internal infrastructure. Or, if you already have cloud infrastructure in place, migrating to a public or multi-cloud strategy might save you money over an existing private or hybrid model.
  • Scalability: Cloud technology is built to scale, and that’s true for the public, hybrid, or multi-cloud cloud setups. Migrating to a hybrid cloud environment (just as an example) could power “cloud bursting” that can support your massive data-driven projects.
  • Resilience: Cloud infrastructure is resilient… and diversifying cloud systems can provide much more resilience. By migrating some or all of your data into private, accessible cloud systems for data replication, you can maintain a much more robust infrastructure that can bounce back from disasters quickly.
  • Performance: Cloud systems simply perform better, regardless of the actual infrastructure. By migrating to the cloud, you can unlock computing and storage capabilities that are unavailable otherwise.

What Are the Challenges of Migrating to the Cloud?

As with any complex technology, some challenges come with migrating to the cloud or even between clouds.

Some of these challenges include:

  • Integrity: Moving massive amounts of data between different systems, either online or offline, can result in some loss of data integrity. This is to be expected but also becomes a problem on a large enough scale. It’s critical that your team, and the support team of your cloud provider, have mechanisms in place to ensure the integrity of migrating data and applications.
  • Metadata and Classification: Not only is the integrity of the data important, but the integrity of the classifying metadata is also (if not more so). You must catalog your data and metadata beforehand, using intelligent data management tools or collaborating with your cloud providers.
  • Operations: A massive cloud migration can, if not adequately planned, create a bottleneck of resources that aren’t working on other business operations. A cloud provider can offer the kinds of support that can mitigate that bottleneck (either through additional IT support, expertise, technology, etc.). Still, your organization must also be prepared to navigate what could turn out to be a time and energy sink.
  • Time: Speaking of time… cloud migrations, especially ones that involve a lot of overhead rebuilding infrastructure or applications, can take weeks or even months. This isn’t a push-button task that you can do on your lunch break. It takes careful planning to understand when your new cloud systems will be online and the timetables for what features and apps are migrating.

Streamline Your Cloud Migration with WEKA

Suppose you’re migrating your complex research or industrial operations into the cloud or new cloud infrastructure. In that case, working with a company that can provide the support, expertise, and infrastructure to streamline that process is advantageous.

WEKA is the provider of such services. We serve as the foundation for some of the most complex workloads on the market (machine learning, genomic sequencing, life science research), and we support our clients during their entire cloud journey.

With WEKA, you can leverage the following features for your cloud system:

  • Streamlined and fast cloud file systems to combine multiple sources into a single high-performance computing system
  • Industry-best GPUDirect performance (113 Gbps for a single DGX-2 and 162 Gbps for a single DGX A100)
  • In-flight and at-rest encryption for governance, risk, and compliance requirements
  • Agile access and management for edge, core, and cloud development
  • Scalability up to exabytes of storage across billions of files

Contact our experts today to learn how you can migrate your cloud systems to WEKA infrastructure or WEKA-powered AWS infrastructure.