In today's digital landscape, cloud computing has become an indispensable cornerstone of technological advancement and business innovation. The global market for cloud computing was valued at US$569.31 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach a whooping US$2,432.87 billion by 2030 . The driving factor behind cloud computing lies in the transformative power it offers organizations of all sizes and industries. Research has shown that over 94% of enterprises utilize cloud services, and at least 67% of enterprise infrastructure is now cloud-based .
The infrastructure migration strategy is determined based on the chosen application migration strategy. Thus, unlocking the full potential of the cloud requires careful, and the choice of migration approach is paramount. Companies are often recommended to revise using the 7Rs decision tree. The 7Rs framework is a methodology used for cloud migration, which categorizes different approaches to migrating applications and workloads to the cloud. The 7Rs stand for rehost, relocate, re-platform, refactor, repurchase, retire, and retain. In which rehosting, refactoring and re-platforming are among the most common migration approaches. By understanding the intricacies of these cloud strategies, businesses can pave the path towards an optimized and future-proof cloud infrastructure.
Also known as “lift and shift”, this approach involves migrating applications to the cloud environment without significantly changing the application architecture or code. It focuses on replicating the existing infrastructure and configurations in the cloud. Rehosting is typically a quick and straightforward migration method, offering benefits such as improved scalability and cost optimization. Furthermore, the approach is also the first step in a migration project, as it allows organizations to gain familiarity with cloud environments and gain experience with cloud management and operations before considering further optimization or refactoring of their applications. According to the State of Cloud report conducted by Pluralsight, 25% of organizations’ applications undergo lift-and-shift migration .
While rehosting allows for quick migration with minimal application modifications, it may not optimize the application for scalability, cost efficiency, or performance. The application may continue to operate in a similar manner as it did on-premises, missing out on the potential advantages of cloud-specific features and architectures. Additionally, rehosting may not address underlying application issues or technical debt, limiting long-term optimization and hindering the organization's ability to leverage the cloud environment fully. In some scenarios, if the application has underlying issues or inefficiencies, rehosting without addressing them could perpetuate technical debt in the cloud environment.
Refactor (also known as re-architect)
Refactoring involves redesigning and optimizing applications for cloud-native features and services. This approach aims to improve performance, scalability, and efficiency by modifying the application architecture, making it more modular, scalable, and resilient. Refactoring involves breaking down monolithic applications into microservices or adopting serverless computing for enhanced flexibility and cost efficiency.
Nonetheless, a limitation of cloud refactoring, or re-architecting, is the additional time, effort, and resources required compared to other migration approaches. Refactoring changes the application architecture, codebase, or data models to align with cloud-native principles and services. This process can be complex and may require substantial development and testing efforts. Refactoring also introduces the risk of introducing new bugs or compatibility issues during the transformation process. This can cause disruptions and potential downtime during the transition, impacting business operations and user experience.
Re-platforming involves moving applications to a different platform or runtime environment within the cloud. It typically involves minimal changes to the application code but takes advantage of cloud services and capabilities that offer better performance, scalability, or cost optimization. This migration approach may include transferring applications from on-premises infrastructure to a specific cloud provider's managed services or utilizing containerization technologies like Docker or Kubernetes.
One significant drawback, however, is the risk of vendor lock-in, where migrating applications to a particular cloud provider’s service can restrict flexibility and make future platform changes or migrations more difficult. Indeed, almost 50% of enterprises acknowledge the risk of vendor-lock in . Additionally, this often necessitates integrating existing systems, leading to complexities and potential compatibility issues. Moreover, manually managing workloads on the cloud would restrict re-platforming significantly. Businesses would need to invest in essential automation tools that offer a certain degree of flexibility to operate the system in the cloud. Lastly, re-platforming may require retraining or upskilling development teams to effectively work with cloud-native technologies and frameworks, adding to the overall complications of the re-platforming process.
Rethink your strategy for the Cloud era
To determine their readiness for each migration approach—cloud rehost, refactor, and platform—organizations can consider the following factors:
- Business objectives and strategy: Evaluate how cloud migration aligns with the business objectives and strategy. Determine if migrating to the cloud will help achieve specific goals such as cost reduction, scalability, agility, or improved customer experience.
- Application portfolio assessment:Analyze the existing applications and their compatibility with the cloud. Identify applications that are suitable for migration based on factors such as complexity, criticality, dependencies, and potential benefits.
- Technical readiness:Assess your organization's technical capabilities and willingness to adopt cloud technologies. Evaluate factors such as network infrastructure, security measures, data governance, and compliance requirements. Determine if any upgrades or modifications are needed to support a successful cloud migration.
- Cost Analysis:Even though cloud migration is rewarding as it can help organizations save 20% annually on infrastructure costs  , conducting a thorough cost analysis is imperative to understand the financial implications. Consider initial migration costs, ongoing operational expenses, potential savings, and return on investment (ROI). Compare the prices of running applications in the cloud versus on-premises.
- Implementing a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy: Combining different types of cloud solutions offers businesses flexibility, resilience, optimized resource allocation, and promotes innovation. It allows for workload distribution across multiple cloud providers, mitigates downtime risks, enables cost optimization, and facilitates the integration of diverse cloud-native services and technologies. 87% of enterprises have embraced hybrid cloud strategies, and the hybrid cloud industry is projected to experience a growth rate of 17%. This trajectory is expected to increase the industry's value from $44.6 billion in 2018 to nearly $100 billion by 2023 
The cloud computing market is witnessing a continuous upward trajectory, fueled by technological advancements, the proliferation of cloud-native services, and the increasing adoption of hybrid and multi-cloud architectures. There is no denying that cloud migration will remain a key driver in shaping the tech industry's future, empowering businesses to stay competitive, innovate, and achieve their goals in an ever-evolving digital landscape.