When we talk about cloud migration challenges, the conversation is about a company switching their workloads from an on-premise datacenter to a public cloud environment. But what about cloud to cloud migration?
The Benefits of Cloud to Cloud Migration
Why would a company go through the trouble of moving its entire infrastructure to the cloud, investing in one cloud service provider only to switch to another?
The cloud shift is no longer anything new. Companies have accepted cloud adoption and are becoming more comfortable with using cloud services. Now with AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform currently leading the market (plus others growing rapidly), and constantly offering new and better options in terms of pricing and services, switching providers could prove to be fruitful.
Choosing a cloud provider to begin with is a monumental task. Businesses have to make choices regarding a number of factors – cost, reliability, security, and more. But even with all factors considered, business environments are always changing. Cost can become more or less important, your geographical region might evolve (which affects cost and availability of services), and priorities can shift to the point where another platform might be a better fit.
Perhaps your migration to AWS a few years ago was driven mainly by reliability and risk mitigation. While other providers were up and coming, you wanted to go with the gold standard. A few years later, productivity tools like Google’s G Suite became useful to your business. You now have business partners using other platforms like Azure or Google Cloud. You realize that your needs for software have changed, business partnerships have influence, and it becomes clear that another provider could be of greater benefit. Not to mention, cloud services themselves are ever-changing, and you might find better pricing, service-level agreements, scalability, and improved performance with another provider as offerings change over time.
While all of this makes sense, theoretically speaking, let’s take a look at a real example:
The Case of GitLab
A number of users were up in arms over Microsoft’s acquisition of Github, so much so that hundreds of thousands have already moved to another Git-repository manager – GitLab. And in a twist of fate, GitLab has made the announcement that they’ve decided to swap Microsoft Azure for another cloud provider – Google Cloud Platform.
Ask Andrew Newdigate, the Google Cloud Platform Migration Project Lead at GitLab, about why they’re making the move to GCP and he’ll likely mention service performance, reliability, and something along the lines of Kubernetes is the future.
Kubernetes, the open source project first released by Google and designed for application management of multiple software containers “makes reliability at massive scale possible.” What’s also appealing is that GitLab gets to use Google Kubernetes Engine, a service designed to simplify operating a Kubernetes cluster, as part of their cloud migration. The use of GKE has been cited as another driving factor for GitLab, looking to focus on “bumping up the stability of scalability of GitLab.com, by moving our worker fleet across to Kubernetes using GKE.”
Sid Sijbrandij, CEO of GitLab, adds better pricing and superior performance as reasons behind the migration. In an interview with VentureBeat, he said:
“Google as a public cloud, they have more experience than the other public cloud providers because they basically made a cloud for themselves […] And you find that in things such as networking, where their network quality is ahead of everyone else. It’s more reliable, it has less jitter, and it’s just really, really impressive how they do that, and we’re happy to start hosting Gitlab.com on that.”
The Challenges of Cloud to Cloud Migration
There’s a long list of factors that influence a company’s decision in selecting a cloud provider, and they don’t stop once you start building infrastructure in a particular cloud. Over time, other providers may prove to be better for the needs of your business. But just as there are challenges with cloud adoption in the first place, similar challenges apply when making the switch from cloud to cloud:
- Data transfer. Transferring data between different cloud service providers is a complex task, to say the least. Like data transfer from enterprise to cloud, information is transferred over the internet, but between cloud providers instead from server to cloud. This presents the issue of speed at which data downloads, and as a rule of thumb you should avoid transferring large chunks of data at a time. There can even be massive transfer costs of moving the data out of or into a cloud.
- Potential downtime. Downtime is also a risk. It’s important to account for inconsistencies in data, examine network connections, and prepare for the real possibility of applications going down during the migration process.
- Adapting to technologies for the new cloud. You built an application for Azure, but now you’re going Google – it’s not as simple as picking it up from one platform and expecting it to run on another (and with the same benefits). Anticipate a heavy amount of time spent reconfiguring the application code to get the most out of your new platform.
- Keeping costs in check. Consider the time and costs to migrate to the cloud, which tend to be misunderstood or drastically understated. Again, the same applies for cloud to cloud migration. By now, you have a better understanding of cloud service offerings, pricing models, and the complexity of a cloud adoption budget – for the service you were using. Once again, you’ll have to evaluate all of these costs and look into options that will help you save post-migration, like optimization tools.
Cloud to Cloud Migration – Is it worth it?
Before shifting to the cloud, you probably asked yourself the same thing. And just like before, you’ll have to dive deeply into factors like costs, technologies, and risk versus reward to assess whether or not a cloud to cloud migration is the right move for your business.
At first glance, a cloud to cloud migration is just as complicated and time-consuming as moving to the cloud in the first place, and it might seem like it’s just not worth the effort. But why did you move to the cloud? If you did to save costs over time, create better business opportunities, improve reliability and performance – then why would you NOT go with another provider that will benefit your business more in those areas? Not to mention, the more time you spend with one provider, building more applications as you go, the harder it will be to make the switch.
So cloud to cloud migration – is it worth it? Yes – but only if you’ve considered all the factors to determine whether or not another cloud is better for your business.