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To Become Cloud Native: Migrating from data center to the cloud

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At NorthCode, we specialize in guiding organizations through the complex process of becoming cloud-native.
Photo by Frans van Heerden

Traditional data center vs public cloud, what actually is different?

Before a successful migration to cloud can happen, a paradigm change is required from the organization. The organization moving to the cloud needs to start thinking about cloud natively. Here’s a few aspects of traditional thinking vs cloud native thinking.

Traditional thinking

Cloud native thinking

Servers are pets 🐈 and very hard to replace. Setup is done manually by an operator.

Servers are cattle, they are easy to replace as the setup is fully automate 

Corporate environment is a walled garden 🏡 - traffic originating from within is always trusted

Corporate environment mostly runs on the Internet - everything is verified 🔏 and there’s zero trust for traffic, it’s always verified.

Monitoring is reactive 🔨 - operators react to problems e.g. when website is already down

Monitoring is proactive 🔍, there’s a good platform for metrics and metrics are appropriately analyzed by operators and machines alike. Problems can be foreseen from the data and acted upon without user effect.

Configuration management is done by hand to a versioned document. This document will get outdated as someone forgets to update them. 

Configuration is in code and can be deployed at any time.

Organizations can be in the middle of transformation, meaning that both sides can be true at the same time for different resources.

The Pitfalls of Lift-and-Shift Migration

It might be tempting to adopt a "lift-and-shift" approach when migrating to the cloud, instead of doing cloud native transformation. This strategy involves moving applications from on-premises servers to virtual servers in the cloud with minimal changes. However, this method often fails to deliver the anticipated cost savings and operational efficiencies.

Legacy applications, when simply moved to the cloud, do not automatically become scalable, secure, or cost-effective. The architecture and design of these applications are typically not optimized for the cloud environment, leading to higher costs and potential performance issues, even if the cloud provides you with unlimited scaling.

To truly leverage the benefits of the cloud, a different approach is required. This involves transforming applications to be cloud-native, meaning they are designed and optimized for the cloud from the ground up. Cloud-native applications take full advantage of cloud services and capabilities, resulting in better performance, scalability, and cost efficiency.

Let's consider a concrete example: A developer migrates an application to the cloud using a lift-and-shift strategy, moving it from on-premises application servers to virtual servers in the cloud. The application requires disk space for logs and application data. Server still needs to be configured to do a log rotation and archiving of the data. All of these leads require the same amount or even more of developers' time. Doing this kind of migration usually does not lead to cost savings. If the organization is doing the transformation bit-by-bit it can even lead to performance issues, as the data centers usually are geographically located far from each other, even in other regions.

Instead of a lift-and-shift approach, the application should be redesigned to be cloud-native. For log management, a managed service like Amazon CloudWatch or Azure Monitor is used. For application data, a cost-effective managed database service such as Amazon RDS or Azure SQL Database is selected. These services take the operation burden away from the developer, which then can spend time on the actually important things: developing the application itself. The application itself is refactored to leverage cloud-native features like auto-scaling and serverless computing. This approach optimizes the use of cloud resources, ensuring cost savings and better performance.

NorthCode's Expertise in Cloud Transformation

At NorthCode, we specialize in guiding organizations through the complex process of becoming cloud-native. Our team of experts has extensive experience in cloud transformations, covering everything from platform engineering to application modernization. We understand the nuances of cloud migration and can tailor solutions to meet your specific needs. We have vast experience from all of the public clouds as well as from traditional environments.

Whether you are just starting your cloud journey or looking to optimize your existing cloud infrastructure, NorthCode can help you achieve your goals. By adopting a cloud-native approach, we ensure that your applications are not only ready for the cloud but also positioned to deliver maximum value in terms of scalability, security, and cost efficiency.