What is cloud migration?

Cloud migration is the process of moving digital business operations into the cloud. Cloud migration is sort of like a physical move, except it involves moving data, applications, and IT processes from some data centers to other data centers, instead of packing up and moving physical goods. Much like a move from a smaller office to a larger one, cloud migration requires quite a lot of preparation and advance work, but usually it ends up being worth the effort, resulting in cost savings and greater flexibility.

Most often, “cloud migration” describes the move from on-premises or legacy infrastructure to the cloud. However, the term can also apply to a migration from one cloud to another cloud.

In computing, hardware or software is considered “legacy” if it is outdated but still in use. Legacy products and processes are usually not as efficient or secure as more up-to-date solutions. Businesses stuck running legacy systems are in danger of falling behind their competitors; they also face an increased risk of data breaches.

Legacy software or hardware may become unreliable, may run slowly, or may no longer be supported by the original vendor. Windows XP, for instance, is a legacy operating system: released in 2001, its capabilities have been exceeded by later releases of Windows, and Microsoft no longer supports the operating system by releasing patches or updates for it.

Infrastructure includes servers, networking equipment, applications, databases, and any other business-critical software or hardware. Legacy infrastructure, such as aging servers or physical firewall appliances, may slow down a company’s business processes. It may also add more security risks as original vendors drop support for their products and stop releasing security patches.

Legacy infrastructure is typically hosted on-premises, meaning it is physically located in buildings or on property where the organization operates. For instance, many businesses host an on-premises data center in the same building where their employees work.

Companies that rely on on-premises legacy infrastructure are unable to experience the benefits of cloud computing. Because of this, most enterprises today have made at least a partial migration to the cloud.