What is cloud data migration?

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Cloud data migration is the process of moving onsite workloads and applications offsite to the cloud for economic and operational benefits. Because efficiently managed and backed-up cloud environments reduce IT operating budgets, promote agility, and help drive revenue, migrating data to the cloud has become a popular IT modernization initiative. Organizations that perform cloud data migration—adopting hybrid, public, and/or multicloud clouds—and cloud data management free up staff and financial resources by consolidating and eliminating hardware, software, and operations onsite. The attractive-to-business capabilities of cloud—like rapid provisioning and ease of scaling to consumption-based pricing—are prioritizing cloud data migration for both business and IT leaders alike. A data migration solution ensures that data is moved to the cloud accurately, securely, and efficiently.

What is the cloud data migration process and strategy?

Successful cloud data migration and cloud data management takes planning and practice. These are typical steps in the process:

  • Planning and strategic alignment — Before moving any workload or application to the cloud, organizational leaders should outline the use cases they are trying to solve and establish clear migration goals. They should then map these back to their data strategies to ensure IT teams align in delivering cloud strategies.
  • Vendor selection — Once the strategy is defined, IT leaders can determine which cloud providers and data security and management solutions are best positioned to accelerate the cloud data migration process and serve as trusted partners. Critical criteria in selecting cloud providers may be costs, unique processing capabilities (e.g., artificial intelligence [AI]), or sovereignty requirements. It may also be automation, AI-powered insights, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud data mobility. Understanding how the vendor will evolve and grow with business or mission needs is paramount.
  • Data classification — This process of organizing data into categories for discovery and identifying risk exposure should be completed before data migration to the cloud. Knowing where data resides is essential for day-to-day operational efficiency—searching and finding information—and for cyber resilience—prioritizing sensitive data protection. Classifying data, particularly unstructured data, is critical to rapid disaster recovery and ransomware recovery. Effective data classification also helps teams remove redundant or duplicate data, lowering risk.
  • Automated cloud backup and governance — Manually performed cloud data migrations can be costly and error-prone processes that take months or years to complete. Using automation to establish governance, data protection, and mobility policies in advance can streamline the process of moving to a hybrid or public cloud while helping to ensure compliance with business and industry requirements.
  • Aligned policies and security — Be sure any migration to the cloud aligns with existing organizational security and policy-driven practices. These may include encryption that protects data in motion and at rest, role-based access protections that safeguard data mobility, multifactor authentication (MFA), and more.
  • Dashboards and training — Visibility into all data across the organization can become challenging during and after data migration to the cloud. Ensure that the providers you choose for security and data management and cloud services provide complete visibility through a single user interface or dashboard to all data, regardless of where it resides. Moreover, choose solutions that don’t require IT specialists to operate them as this helps keep costs lower.
  • Testing — The final step in any migration strategy is to test the operation before a full-scale cloud data migration. This can help identify people, processes, and technology challenges with the approach.

Why is cloud migration a complicated process?

The sheer volume of data generated by digital businesses has made it more costly and operationally inefficient for organizations to keep it all onsite. Yet the process of migrating data to the cloud is complicated because of the many data silos that have evolved over the years. Organizations have fragmented data across tools, systems, teams, and locations, preventing complete visibility into all data everywhere and hindering cloud migration. A modern data security and management solution speeds cloud data migration by providing comprehensive data visibly, minimizing complexity and costs.

Why is cloud migration important?

The proven benefits of cloud computing make cloud data migration a must for modern business and government organizations. These are among the reasons migration to the cloud is critical to achieving mission and business operational objectives today and in the future:

  • Cost savings — Short-term cloud migration is a worthwhile investment to achieve the long-term consumption-based, pay-as-you-grow pricing of the cloud—rather than CapEx investment—that helps organizations lower capacity costs for the growing amounts of data they need to save and protect.
  • Enables predictable budgeting — Once data is migrated to the cloud, organizations can avoid the capital expenses (CapEx) associated with provisioning data management equipment for onsite use and instead budget using a more predictable operational expense (OpEx) model.
  • Improved data quality — By consolidating data from many sources, organizations remove duplicates and out-of-date information, ensuring the data they keep is the most current.
  • Promotes agility and flexibility — With data in the cloud, organizations have the flexibility to access data from wherever they are. They can also use it to derive insights or for dev/test operations, improving business insights and agility.
  • Enables scale — Cloud services can scale up or down based on capacity, allowing organizations to efficiently handle varying workloads without over-provisioning resources.
  • Boosts security — Cloud data migration is a boon to cyber resilience because cloud providers share responsibility for managing infrastructure and minimizing data compromise and loss. Capacity in the cloud also makes it easier to perform air gapping and use immutable backups stored in the cloud for rapid ransomware recovery.
  • Minimizes burdens, maximizes IT innovation — Without having to manage all data onsite, including upgrades, patches, and hardware maintenance, IT teams have the freedom to use their valuable skills to work on more innovative projects that deliver a greater return to the organization.

What are the pros and cons of cloud migration?

Migrating large amounts of data from an onsite data center to a cloud provider can be daunting. IT modernization initiatives like this often-surface pros and cons, and these are some of the popular ones for cloud data migration:

Pros Cons
Lower costs – The cost of migrating and maintaining data in the cloud is typically lower than moving and safeguarding it onsite. Time-consuming and error-prone – Organizations often shy away from migrating data to the cloud because it will take too long, add to operational inefficiency, and potentially open data and systems up to compromises due to human mistakes in the migration process.
Rapid scaling – Organizations can avoid over- and under-provisioning when they need to scale up and down to meet evolving requirements.
Lack of control – Because cloud vendors manage the infrastructure, IT teams may feel a sense of loss of control over operations concerning their data. However, most cloud providers operate shared responsibility models, meaning even data residing in the cloud is the responsibility of the business storing it there.
Faster time to insights – Data stored in the cloud can often be accessed and computations run on it faster than data kept onsite.
Vendor lock-in – Vendors may have ingress and egress charges for data stored and migrated from particular clouds. Additionally, migrations may require third-party solutions to support the movement of specific data sources.
Improved IT skillset and time utilization – With cloud providers managing IT infrastructure, valuable internal IT resources can dramatically reduce troubleshooting responsibilities and focus on more mission-critical business challenges. Distributed environment management – By definition, using cloud infrastructure extends IT environments beyond data centers, which can pose challenges to organizations unprepared to support them.
Reliable performance – Cloud providers offer high availability and disaster recovery options, ensuring that applications and data remain accessible and resilient.
Minimized security risks – Cloud vendors prioritize keeping data safe and continuously invest in upgrading technologies to protect all types of data sources. Often, internal teams don’t have the budget or time to stay current.
Optimized, future-proofed data sources and applications to cloud infrastructure and services – Organizations have typically provisioned hardware and software manually to accommodate apps and data sources running onsite. In the cloud, resources are easily right sized and scaled automatically to meet requirements, removing human error.

Cohesity and cloud data migration

Cohesity is a proven data security and management platform and a leading platform for accelerating data center-to-cloud data migration and consolidation. Cohesity offers a simpler approach to cloud data migration to hyperscaler (e.g., Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform) as well as other managed service provider clouds and public clouds with greater flexibility than other methods. Cohesity supports a wide range of traditional and modern data sources—hypervisors, databases, cloud-native, SaaS, and more—for migration. The platform is also a simple, fast, and cost-effective backup, recovery, and data management solution for AWS S3 buckets and Amazon Blob Storage in the cloud.

Organizations can achieve enterprise-level resiliency with site-to-site replication between Cohesity clusters onsite and in the cloud. Moreover, Cohesity’s web-scale distributed file system provides unlimited scale across any number of industry-standard nodes—using inherent data optimization and reduction techniques—while providing a cost-effective mechanism for data mobility tasks like replication or disaster recovery. No matter the size of the data migration, Cohesity can support it with automation, scheduling, and policy-driven control that allows teams to migrate data to the cloud in phases.

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