If your services have never lived outside an on-premises infrastructure, the prospect of shifting them to the cloud can certainly seem daunting. It may be particularly confusing to know where to start or how to go about planning the migration. Cloud migration tools can come in handy at this point by supporting you and your team as you step into unfamiliar territory.
What is a cloud migration tool?
A cloud migration tool is a program, service, or solution that provides support to companies as they transfer their applications and data from an on-premises environment to the cloud infrastructure or between cloud environments. These tools can assist with all parts of the process, from planning the shift to carrying it out.
It is important to acknowledge that each company’s business goals and applications are different, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to cloud migration. In a similar vein, there is no perfect tool or combination of the right tools - just the one that is best suited for your needs.
In this guide, we discuss some questions to ask yourself when choosing tools and give you cloud migration tool recommendations to consider for your migration journey.
Choosing the right tools
Cloud migration tools can provide end-to-end support or target certain phases of the migration process like the plan or the execution. Although the idea of the ultimate tool is a myth, the following are a few considerations you can reflect on to determine which tools might be most appropriate for you.
What do you need from the tools?
The first step is to identify the support you are seeking from the tools. Do you need a tool that takes care of your entire migration journey, or do you need assistance with a particular aspect of it?
For the cloud migration tools that claim to provide extensive support across the various phases of the migration journey, check to make sure they do provide that level of assistance. Right from the planning stage to the execution of the migration and offering help post-migration, these are all usually covered by such tools. An especially valuable offering is consultations or prompt and thorough customer support. This is because your team is likely new to the cloud ecosystem and may have questions or apprehensions.
For tools that do not claim to offer direct support across these stages of the process, make sure you are clear about their role in your migration journey. They will also be able to offer consulting services in case you need additional assistance.
Once you have clarity on your requirements, you can begin to conduct research on different tools and figure out which ones are likely to best align with your needs. This will also help you determine whether free versions of certain tools will suffice or if you need the added features that come with paid subscription or solution-based models.
What needs to be migrated?
Oftentimes, when planning a cloud migration, it is a good idea to assess your existing services to determine whether all of them need to be migrated. It is not always the case that the entire infrastructure needs to be transferred to the cloud as some services may no longer be in use or will need to be completely rebuilt as cloud-native services post-migration. While you choose services for server migration, be careful to transfer all important services and applications to minimize data loss. To avoid needless expenditure and wasteful usage of resources, make sure that you have visibility of all your services and their dependencies. Manually doing so can be tedious, so we recommend using a tool that offers this feature.
Are the tools compatible with your target cloud environment?
This is a given, but your tools must be compatible with the cloud environment that you wish to move your infrastructure to. Some tools, especially those with end-to-end assistance, may only let you migrate to their own cloud environments. If that does not align with your goals, look into alternatives.
What kind of insights do you need?
Some tools offer recommendations for your migration plan based on the state of your on-premises infrastructure. Some also display comparisons of performance metrics pre and post-migration. Read on to learn about the 12 best tools on the market.
12 tools to consider
Cortex’s contribution to your cloud migration journey is manifold. Our fundamental thesis is that increased visibility into your services and internal workings encourages teams to produce better work, i.e., only when you are aware of your existing conditions can you make meaningful changes to them.
To undertake any migration project, it is important to know what your existing infrastructure and data look like, including service performance, the interactions between various services as well as the dependencies of each. The service catalog centralizes this information into a single platform and lets you visualize it. Any questions that your team has about service ownership, SLOs, or documentation, for example, can be answered by glancing at this dashboard. Cortex integrates with your identity provider to keep the latest ownership information on file. Having easy access to this information also facilitates resolving any errors and minimizing downtime.
The scaffolder is another helpful tool that allows you to build service templates to make it easier to make similar services and standardize your infrastructure. This is especially useful when refactoring services during the migration process. You can create templates that incorporate certain standards required for cloud compatibility, for instance.
Finally, Cortex’s scorecards let you set and enforce best practices across teams without any complexity. You can specify scorecards for the transition to the cloud. These let you keep track of how the migrations are faring for various services. You do not need to run manual checks or search for vulnerabilities for hours on end. The scorecards automate monitoring and deliver visibility to your team as they work on development tasks.
Dynatrace guides you through every step of your cloud migration journey. As a cloud monitoring platform, it has a distinct advantage that it uses even in its cloud migration offerings.
It emphasizes the need for visibility into your services at the beginning of the migration process and baseline performance metrics to continuously improve your application. By using its interactive dependency map during the planning stage, you can capitalize on insights about your existing software - ranging from information on usage and access to resources and dependencies. This is an easy-to-use platform with data visualizations that make it easy to analyze the data and identify patterns.
Using powerful observability mechanisms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, Dynatrace helps you align your services with delivery goals when they are migrated to the cloud. When faced with issues during the migration, you can troubleshoot quickly with its provisions for automated cause analysis, which focuses on the impact on your users’ experience. It also offers to link pre and post-cloud service versions to continue tracking SLAs.
Dynatrace integrates with a variety of cloud environments, including AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. It is also compatible with container services like Kubernetes. It offers various packages so that you can use any combination that best suits your migration and monitoring needs.
Acquired in 2017 by Cisco, AppDynamics service offers observability solutions for complex application infrastructures. It also comprises a host of cloud migration tools, with a focus on performance metrics for your services both before and after migration.
AppDynamics lets you create dashboards to bring visibility to your existing services and related usage and performance metrics. You can always be informed, for instance, about your software complying with your SLAs. Their flow maps give you insight into user journeys and interactions with user-facing microservices and the dependencies that make up the application. Incorporating these insights into your migration strategy is crucial for your migration to take place with as few hurdles as possible. You can similarly choose to scale your services based on performance and user experience insights, with the help of Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer and Cisco CloudCenter.
Cisco harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to alert you about any issues or bugs and their causes instantaneously. This helps your team keep up with the pace and demands of migrating your on-premises architecture to the cloud and subsequently managing a cloud-based application in the future. Additionally, the Business iQ feature provides analyses of your on-premises infrastructure pre-migration and the post-migration cloud application. You can compare the two to determine the extent to which your migration strategy was a success. Service health, for example, is an important measure that reflects the state of your services and how the cloud migration may have impacted them. If service health is low for certain services, you can take the requisite steps to improve its performance and compatibility with the cloud environment.
Microsoft’s Azure technologies span a wide range of cloud solutions, including migrating your existing services to the cloud. They assist numerous fundamental migration workloads like Windows and SQL, as well as on-premises databases and virtual desktop infrastructure. You can choose any of the cloud environments they have to offer, such as Azure VMware Solution or Azure App Service.
Via its guides and centralized dashboards, Azure Migrate offers support throughout the migration process, from discovery and readiness to the actual migration. You can, for instance, visualize all the dependencies linked to your services, ensuring that there are no gaps in your migration. Your team can also benefit from their tracking and recommendation mechanisms as well as insights about your services.
Azure Migrate prides itself on offering cost-effective solutions thanks to the cost-optimization capabilities of its features. It offers cloud computing resources based on your services’ performance and the demand for them, ensuring that you do not pay unnecessary costs. In addition to functionalities like application modernization and readiness analysis, it integrates with partner tools to give you a wider range of features to choose from, making the migration journey comprehensive and tailored to your application’s needs. Finally, owing to Microsoft’s investment in security research and development, Azure boasts robust security solutions for your applications and data.
It is good practice to validate your data once it has been migrated to be confident that the migration was successful. iCEDQ takes care of your data migration testing needs. Its primary aim is to identify any issues in your data by automating monitoring and testing it so that your team can instead devote time and resources to resolve them. The automation, like iCEDQ’s bulk test creation add-on, speeds up this process in that it alerts your team about bugs or complications early on, which also helps to minimize related costs.
Testing during the process of migrating your data to the cloud is non-negotiable. It allows you to maintain uniformity between the on-premises data and that which is migrated to the cloud. iCEDQ provides your team with an in-memory rules engine that compares your data across on-premises and cloud data sources. Without ensuring that your data migration processes are foolproof, you risk losing information that is important for your application and users.
The amount of data that you want to migrate is unlikely to be small. Shifting large volumes of data is not an easy task. Not only that, but large-scale data migration is usually carried out manually, as a result of which it becomes time-intensive and prone to mistakes. iCEDQ offers an automated solution to these inconveniences. You can also schedule tests according to your plan, as well as integrate execution via rest APIs and plugins. Finally, the tool facilitates report generation such that leadership and developers alike have visibility of the data migration process.
iCEDQ also handles database migrations, ETL tool migrations, and system migrations.
PlateSpin Migrate is one of Micro Focus’ many cloud solution offerings. It is available for teams that are looking to migrate their servers - physical or virtual - to cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure. It provides high levels of automation to your cloud migration process, giving you opportunities to commit your resources to other tasks and activities. PlateSpin Migrate’s automation and focus on transferring at the block level also expedite the process and leave little to no room for manual errors.
To highlight the importance of testing during migration, the service integrates testing mechanisms within the process. Issues are identified immediately, allowing for a quick resolution that helps keep outages at a minimum. Such integration gives you increased confidence that the migration will go as planned, so you need not waste resources repeating the process over and over until you get it right.
Windows and Linux users will be able to derive the most benefit from PlateSpin Migrate’s services. It also does well on scalability, so you can transfer servers with thousands of workloads.
Google Cloud Migration
Google’s cloud migration tools equip you with the ability to migrate your data and applications, in addition to offering modernization services. To begin your cloud migration journey on a strong footing, Google encourages you to do a cost-benefit analysis with any one of their partner services. This can help you identify and reduce unnecessary resource consumption before you get started with the actual transition to the cloud.
Google presents different tools for you to take advantage of, depending on your cloud migration strategy. If a simple lift and shift is all you need, you can turn to the Compute Engine. In addition to being automatic, it is scalable and includes pre-migration testing. For teams concerned about making mistakes, it also offers rollbacks. If you are interested in modernizing your workloads simultaneously and without the source code, migrating to Anthos is the best option. You can upload your on-premises servers or virtual machines directly into Kubernetes containers. These are two of a variety of options that you can choose from. Similarly, Google offers numerous choices for migrating your data to the cloud, such as the Transfer Appliance or Database Migration Service.
Google Cloud Migration has an extensive selection of dedicated tools to choose from. It is, therefore, a top choice for teams with complex infrastructures that require a tailored and customizable migration plan.
Turbonomic specializes in application resource management. It optimizes your applications such that they only use the resources they require to meet your business goals. One of its use-cases is cloud migration to platforms like AWS or Azure. It guides you through the whole process, right from creating a plan.
Turbonomic operates on a demand-based migration model. It uses demand-related data to understand the expectations to be met by the workloads when they are being migrated. Doing so does away with the possibility of your workloads using more or fewer resources than they require. It also gives you insights into which of your services can be repurposed or retired. Resource utilization can be very expensive, and this is a way to save costs before you migrate.
Understanding these metrics and matching your workloads with templates available in your destination cloud environments can be a time-consuming and laborious process. Turbonomic automates these tasks for you. Its user interface facilitates the job of selecting and migrating your on-premises servers to the public cloud. You can choose your cloud provider as well as specify the regions you want to migrate to.
Finally, Turbonomic presents you with a resource summary that outlines the cloud pricing, savings, and any changes in the number of active hosts, storage devices, and virtual machines. With information about which, if any, of your VMs are undersized or oversized, you can choose to scale them up or down. Resource allocation is an important consideration, and we recommend using the opportunity provided by the cloud migration process to reflect on your current practices and make changes as you see fit.
AWS Server Migration Services
One of the largest cloud service providers, Amazon Web Services (AWS), has an all-encompassing portfolio of cloud migration services that facilitate the movement of your on-premises infrastructure and data to the cloud. It divides the migration journey into three phases: assessment, mobilization, and migration and modernization. Each of these phases can be supported with multiple tools, depending on your team and application’s needs.
The assessment phase is for evaluating your team’s and application’s readiness to work in a cloud environment. AWS tools map out your existing on-premises workloads and give a cost estimate for running them on the cloud. The Migration Evaluator provides ongoing recommendations for rightsizing and AWS’s Migration Hub is a tool that centralizes information about the progress made by each application in its migration journey.
In the second phase, your team can create and refine your migration plan, as well as build a baseline environment and learn cloud skills. Here you can determine which migration strategies are most relevant to your services and business goals. In the final stage, you can execute these. The AWS Application Migration Service is ideal for automating lift and shift operations. The Migration Hub Refactor Space helps you take care of any refactoring tasks to be carried out. Additionally, AWS has various provisions for database and data transfers to the cloud, depending on the nature of the data.
AWS has a service or a combination thereof for virtually any use case under the sun. It provides end-to-end support such that your migration to the cloud is seamless and hassle-free. To this end, it also offers certification and training for teams.
Carbonite is a security-focused venture that also delivers cloud migration solutions under its Carbonite Migrate tool. It prides itself on migrating workloads across physical and public or private cloud platforms with virtually no downtime for users. It offers a range of options for migration, from entirely automated procedures to more manual processes using Carbonite Migrate’s SDK.
Coupled with the possibilities for automation, Carbonite Migrate’s user-friendly console simplifies the planning and management of the cloud migration job. The software, including the data and configurations, is continuously replicated from the source environment and copied to the target environment in real time. You can perform test cutovers at any point without fearing the impact on production.
There are also provisions for scalability so that you can save on nonessential resource consumption. It offers AES 256-bit encryption and works with a plethora of operating systems and cloud platforms. Carbonite Migrate’s Replication Reporter is another console that lets you track and report on the migration progress of your services.
Carbonite Migrate is a secure and easy-to-use migration tool for companies prioritizing near-zero downtimes and repeatable migration pathways.
HashiCorp’s Terraform presents automated infrastructure and policy as code solutions to migrate your on-premises workloads to the cloud. You can define your resources in Terraform configuration files which are human-readable.
When done manually, infrastructure provisioning is slow and lacks scalability. It is also more susceptible to errors. Terraform proposes automation to address these concerns. When codified, a workflow can be kept consistent, which simplifies infrastructure management.
Using a three-step process of writing configuration files, making a plan for the infrastructure based on your current infrastructure and configurations, and applying or executing the plan keeping dependencies in mind.
Terraform takes an immutable infrastructure approach, which prevents you from editing existing infrastructure and configurations. Instead, you must create a new version with the changes you would like to see and only delete the first version if it succeeds. This approach helps you avoid irreversible errors and simplifies the process of making changes to your services. Terraform also maintains a state file, which it uses to track your original infrastructure and identify the modifications to be made to it.
Terraform also automates the process by asking you to write your ideal version of the infrastructure in the configuration files, as opposed to a step-by-step breakdown. It takes charge of the actual logic to execute the changes and arrive at the finished product by itself.
Terraform’s utility is especially visible when you are refactoring or rearchitecting your services for the cloud. Each team can independently write their configuration files and develop workflows that can then be shared across teams. This results in stronger collaboration and increased transparency across the board. The level of automation offered by Terraform also does wonders for your team by freeing up energy and time that can be focused on other tasks. Errors and delays are also few and far between.
For fans of DIY or manual processes, rclone is a powerful alternative to migrate data to the cloud. It is a command-line program that allows you to migrate, manage, and analyze data in cloud storage, with support from over 40 cloud storage providers. Praised as “the Swiss army knife of cloud storage,” rclone is inspired by the command line utility rsync.
Rclone is an open-source program that operates at the level of whole files or objects. Although most popular with Linux users, rclone is also used on Windows and Mac. You can continue to use rclone even after migration from on-premises to the cloud as it supports inter-cloud migration too.
Third-party developers continue to build upon it using the command line or API to offer additional innovative solutions. If you are looking to dip your toes into this program, you are guaranteed support from the rclone user community.
Make the tools work for you
Cloud adoption is known to be a labor and cost-intensive project that necessitates meticulous planning each step of the way. Depending on the migration strategy you adopt - from a simple lift and shift to a more involved refactoring process - this may have earlier seemed complicated or next to impossible.
The advent of cloud migration tools has changed that by simplifying the entire process to the extent that you only need to be concerned with the key steps and challenges of the transition. The tools will handle the rest, often by automating straightforward processes. Note that relying on tools to assist you is not a compromise but a smart decision. Knowing how and at what point you could benefit from external help is an advantage, as it saves you both money and time, in addition to allowing your team to focus on other critical tasks.
The cloud migration journey is not without hurdles, so we recommend reflecting on your requirements and the specific needs of your services to make informed decisions about the tools that will best meet them. Pick your tools and get started as soon as you can to reap the benefits of the cloud.