When we talk about application migration strategies, we refer to the 6R framework. The critical part of 6R is the collection of application portfolio and separation based on the environment, interdependencies, technical complexities, and a migration method.
6R framework proposes a separation of your apps into six strategies: Re-host, Re-platform, Re-factor/Re-architect, Re-purchase, Retire, and Retain.
Based on the requirements, we create a clear migration plan for each application in your portfolio. The plan is iterated and matured as we get to know the state of your whole environment and interdependencies. The migration complexity varies based on architecture, licensing agreements, and business requirements.
As an example, we can say that virtualized, service-oriented applications are relatively easy to migrate. Monolithic mainframe applications are much more challenging to migrate. We usually start with simple and low-complexity applications and services - this helps us build momentum and confidence. When we determine the priority of the application for migration, together with the complexity level, we must take into account one more factor - business impact. It is essential to prioritize applications with a clear business impact; this is important for the business owners to see immediate value from the process.
The re-host strategy is also known as 'lift and shift,' applications are moved without changes. Re-host is a suitable method for large-scale, legacy migrations where organizations want to meet business objectives quickly. Many companies find that they can save up to 30% of the costs only by re-hosting - without any cloud optimization.
Re-hosting is usually automated with AWS migration tools such as AWS VM Import/Export, so this process is error-free.
Once applications are re-hosted, they are easier to optimize/re-architect because they already run in the cloud.
The re-platform strategy is also known as 'lift, tinker, and shift,' applications are moved with a few cloud optimizations to achieve a tangible benefit. For example, a lot of time spent managing database instances can be saved by migration to a database-as-a-service platform like Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS).
In the re-platform process, money can be saved on license costs as well. For example, WebLogic (a Java application container that requires an expensive license) can be migrated to Apache Tomcat, an open-source equivalent saving.
The re-factor strategy is the method of re-imagining how the application is architected and developed using cloud-native features. It is driven by a strong business need for new features, scaling, or performance that would be very difficult to achieve in the existing environment.
For example, a monolithic application can re-refactored to service-oriented architecture to boost agility or improve business continuity. This strategy tends to be the most expensive but undoubtedly adds tangible benefits in the long run.
The re-purchase strategy is the method of moving perpetual licenses to a software-as-a-service model. For example, move from a customer relationship management (CRM) to Salesforce.com, an HR system to Workday, or a content management system (CMS) to Drupal.
The re-purchase strategy removes applications that are no longer needed or in use. On average, 10% to 20% of an enterprise IT portfolio is no longer useful and can be turned off.
Savings that come from the application retirement can boost migration business case and direct your team's attention to the applications people use, instead of securing and maintaining applications that nobody uses.
The retain strategy keeps the critical application as they are. This is usually the best approach for applications that require significant re-factoring before they can be migrated.
Choosing the right migration strategy depends on your business drivers for cloud adoption, time considerations, business and financial constraints, and resource requirements.
A phased approach is usually the best; prioritizing applications that have a clear business impact on your organization rather than attempting to do it all in one step. The second step is to optimize applications where the AWS Platform can make a notable difference in cost, performance, productivity, or compliance.
The 6R framework helps guide cloud migration projects in the right direction by clearly defining migration strategy for each application in your company's portfolio. Understanding your application portfolio is an essential step for determining migration strategy and subsequent migration plan and business case.
As AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, we help companies of every industry and size solve their infrastructure problems with migration to the AWS cloud.
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