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AWS Migration: The 6 Rs of Cloud Migration

Businesses find new reasons all the time to migrate some or all of their operations to the cloud. Common motivations include plans to expand into new markets, a desire to revamp applications to make use of new technologies and services, the need to offload some development and management tasks, or simply the end of a lease on on-premises equipment.

Migrating to the cloud has a variety of benefits – but also comes with a lot of challenges. Because it’s a complex process that requires attention to detail, there are several strategies that you should consider when preparing to migrate. These strategies are often referred to as 6 Rs. The 6 Rs of Cloud Migration are Retire, Retain, Re-host, Re-platform, Re-architect and Re-purchase. As you prepare to migrate your operations to AWS, evaluate each of your current applications and decide which of the 6Rs will work best for each. 

In 2011, Gartner outlined 5 R’s for cloud migration: Rehost, Refactor, Revise, Rebuild, or Replace. With some modifications (and one addition), these migration strategies are still relevant to migrating to AWS, which provides the servers, applications, and services to support almost any cloud operation. Working with a partner like Mission will help you assess your current operations and decide which of the 6 "R" migration strategies apply.

The Rs have it

Let’s discuss each of the 6Rs of Cloud Migration, and where they’re best used. 

  1. 1. Retire

“Retire” refers to turning off applications that you don’t use anymore. It’s not uncommon to have processes running in your data center that you no longer use, a phenomenon sometimes called “server sprawl.” If it’s not of use anymore, save yourself time, space, and money by retiring them before moving forward with any other part of your migration. Retiring an application requires an in-depth understanding of your environment — you need to be sure that there isn’t anything depending on the application you’re retiring; sometimes those dependencies can be complex. 

  1. 2. Retain

Retain refers to applications that you plan to keep as is. This might be because you’ve recently upgraded and you’re still happy with the application and its service contract, or maybe you want to realize the full depreciation value before changing it out. These applications won’t be migrated for the time being – you might explore migration options in the future, but you can set them to the side in your current migration plan. 

  1. 3. Rehost

“Rehosting”, also known as “lift and shift”,  is the simplest and most straightforward approach to migration. Rehosting means you simply transfer your existing servers into the cloud, and use AWS as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). This is also the quickest approach and doesn’t require much change in your workflows since much will be the same. 

An AWS tool called VM Import/Export can help import virtual machine images from your existing data center to Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) instances for a simple transfer process. (You can also export the virtual machines back to your local infrastructure should you need to.)

  1. 4. Replatform

Replatforming—also called “lift, tinker, and shift”—is for when you want to tweak your applications when moving them to the cloud without changing their core architecture. Replatforming provides the opportunity to replace a licensed service with an open source one, for instance, or simply update or optimize old components.

Mission Cloud + MPulse Mobile: Replatforming to Migrate Their Database 

MPulse Mobile had acquired healthcare communications company MessageBeam, whose operations depended on an Oracle database, and the company wanted to migrate their database to AWS. The company didn’t have the resources to execute the process itself, so Mission worked in close collaboration with the mPulse team over several weeks to successfully migrate the database to an Oracle instance on Amazon EC2, backed up with other instances to provide redundancy and address other needs.

  1. 5. Rearchitect

Re-architecting, or refactoring, comes into play when you will want to change the core code of your applications as you migrate. In this approach, you might be redesigning the application to take full advantage of the IaaS and Platform as a Service (PaaS) technologies available. It’s a complete modernization of the application to add features or achieve performance or scale that couldn’t be achieved in the existing environment. 

Mission Cloud + Evolve’s Media: Migrating to AWS from a Collocated Data Center 

Evolve Media’s rearchitected their applications in order to implement containerization, or a microservices architecture. Modernizing their technology stack in that way would enable the lifestyle content publisher to scale its operations much more easily. Mission communicated with Evolve for more than a year, including carrying out an MRA and providing the information the company needed to prepare for the actual migration. In the end, Evolve successfully migrated 50 applications across five business verticals in less than four months.

  1. 6. Repurchase

Repurchasing your applications, otherwise known as “drop and shop”, is the most drastic of migration strategies. Repurchasing can take one two forms: transferring your software license from an on-premises server to AWS, or completely replacing your current application with SaaS options, such as changing your call center management or ERP software to software available on AWS. This might be because you don’t want to manage the applications onsite anymore, or just because you want to replace them with something more modern to help future-proof your operations.

Mission Cloud + Boston Celtics: Migrate All Operations to AWS In 2010, the  Boston Celtics saw that its on-premises infrastructure was not going to be able to handle the increasing flood of modern sports data—at least not without putting a tremendous strain on its in-house personnel and resources. The franchise worked with G2 Tech Group (which, along with Reliam and Stratalux, became Mission Cloud in October 2018) to help it successfully migrate much of its operations to AWS. Mission has continued to work with the Celtics ever since and was named the team’s official Cloud Services Provider in 2019.

Choosing the Right Strategies

The 6Rs of migration can feel overwhelming if you’re not sure where to start. Let’s talk about how best to approach the process. 

First, start by identifying applications you’re not going to migrate — applications you’re either going to retire or retain. Since you won’t be migrating them, you can set these aside. 

Once you’ve established which applications you’re migrating, go through each of them to determine which of the 6Rs will best apply to each of the strategies. 

Migrate to AWS with Mission Cloud

Feeling overwhelmed with the 6Rs of cloud migration? Mission Cloud is here to help. When you work with an AWS Premier Tier Services partner like us, you can trust our expert teams to walk you through every step of your migration to AWS. Our process begins with conducting a Migration Readiness Assessment (MRA) to look at the financial, technological, and operational challenges facing your migration, and together we prepare an inventory of your current technology stack to determine which elements are suitable to move to AWS. Then, we can review the 6Rs together to decide which migration strategy will work best for each.

Ready to get started? Schedule a free 60-minute consultation to discuss your migration plans.

Author Spotlight:

Jackie Berkman

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