When moving to the cloud, one of the main challenges is to find the right migration approach for each of your applications. To do so, you need to assess the cloud readiness of each application, but you also need to set clear goals. What do you want to achieve through cloud migration? And, hence, what is the best-suited cloud migration approach?
In this context, the 7Rs of cloud migration can be a helpful framework.
This article will provide you with a brief overview of the strategies that were part of the original 6R model. We will then discuss the 7th “R” that AWS added to the initial framework, alongside the launch of VMWare cloud.
In 2010, Richard Watson, a Gartner research analyst, published an article presenting 5 different strategies for cloud migration: rehost, refactor, replace, revise, rebuild. The goal of this article was to help IT architects navigate the complexities of cloud transformation, by presenting them with clear migration alternatives.
A few years later, AWS proposed a similar approach, adding one strategy to Gartner’s original framework. This led to the 6Rs of cloud migration, which became a popular model in the cloud industry.
Finally, in late 2017, AWS proposed an extended model, the 7Rs of cloud migration, including a new strategy: relocate. This strategy is similar to the rehosting one, and applied to companies whose on-premise IT runs on VMWare.
Before diving into the relocate strategy, let’s refresh our memories with a quick overview of the original 6Rs.
Rehost (or lift and shift). This strategy consists in directly moving an application from on-premises to cloud, without changing its architecture (or just making minor changes).
Replatform. This strategy takes more effort than a simple lift-and-shift, as you will redesign some aspects of your application. But this will allow you to achieve tangible benefits, such as improved scalability and agility.
Rearchitect. It consists in rewriting the core architecture of the application in a cloud-native fashion. Rearchitecting can be time consuming and costly, but it allows to leverage the benefits of a cloud native infrastructure: better performance, higher availability, improved scalability, etc.
Repurchase. In some cases, you may find a SaaS solution that is a good alternative to one of your existing applications. Repurchasing is replacing a (legacy) application with a SaaS solution that has the same or even extended capabilities.
Retain. Some applications are still critical to your business, but different obstacles currently make the migration impossible, or risky. Retaining an application means to keep it on-premises at the moment, and to revisit it at a later stage.
Retire. When assessing your existing application portfolio, you might come across a few applications that are not relevant anymore, with regards to your current strategy. Retiring an application simply means you don’t need it anymore and you decommission it.
Looking for a more in-depth analysis of the different 6R strategies? Have a look at our article describing each strategy, and its pros and cons.
Relocation is also sometimes called “hypervisor-level lift and shift”. This strategy is close to the lift and shift strategy, but applies specifically to applications that are hosted in VMware.
In this case, the strategy consists in creating a copy of the application in VMware Cloud. If your organization has a VMWare based data center, AWS offers the possibility to simply move or extend your virtualized server layer in your data center (and the associated workloads and applications) to VMWare Cloud.
Just as rehosting, the main benefit is migration speed and reduced efforts, as the application is kept as-is and moved to the Cloud. The users keep the tools and the technical environment they are familiar with, which leads to easier adoption of the new application.
However, in the same way as rehosting, the relocation strategy does not allow to leverage all cloud-native features. Therefore, it limits the performance and flexibility improvements that other migration strategies can offer.
So if operational efficiency gains need to be traded against speed, e.g. as migration deadlines are approaching, you need to choose a rehost or relocation strategy. Settle for relocation if you already run a VMware based virtualization layer. This way you can leverage the management pane (i.e. vCenter) your team is already familiar with and can benefit from quickly extending to the public cloud, while adopting a hybrid cloud capability.
Need to define which 6R strategy works best in your case? Download our decision guide poster and find your ideal migration approach.
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