Moving your applications from your on-premise datacenter to the cloud can be a daunting undertaking. In this article, we examine three approaches to diving into the cloud, from moving small web applications to rewriting applications to take full advantage of platforms as a service (PaaS). We explain the risks and advantages of each and how you can take a phased approach to control costs and risks.

The commercials are everywhere and the pundits all proclaim the same thing: “Move your IT to the cloud!” Naturally, you’re wondering how best to jump into the cloud in a way that leverages its unique capabilities and doesn’t just leave you shifting capital expenditures on infrastructure to operating expenditures to rent someone else’s infrastructure – and to make this move without breaking any of your existing systems.

The simplest, lowest impact approach to start moving to the cloud is to move one or two web applications to the cloud service provider of your choices, taking advantage of their web hosting capabilities. This is easiest if your application is self-contained or uses APIs to talk to your on-premise systems; however, you can make a connection from the cloud to your local datacenter to access databases, ERP systems, and other on-premise resources with a minimum of fuss. This “dipping your toe in” approach requires minimal work and helps control costs by not “lifting and shifting” large sections of your infrastructure into the cloud – with all the costs that go along with that.

When you feel comfortable with your cloud provider, you can take another step into the cloud by migrating the services – databases, queues, ETLs, ESBs, and so on – needed by the web applications you’ve already moved there. Every cloud service provider offers managed platform services that you can use to meet these application needs. By using the cloud provider’s platform services (PaaS), you reduce costs, as most of these are priced favorably compared to their virtual machine infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offerings. You also improve reliability, as these services typically have strict SLAs and are geographically distributed to protect against outages. This sort of move typically requires no software development, but some reconfiguration of your applications will be needed.

Of course, you can also jump right into the deep end and modify your applications – web or otherwise – to run directly on the cloud provider’s platform. We’d recommend doing this last, after you’ve done some testing and learning using the gentler approaches outlined above. However, once you migrate your application to the cloud platform, you realize significant benefits, including further decreased costs due to more favorable pricing, automatic and elastic scalability to protect against load spikes, and strong resilience and disaster recovery capabilities enabled by the cloud platform. It’s more complex, true – but the benefits are significant.

No matter how you choose to proceed with your cloud migration, you’ll want a skilled partner that can help guide you down the path that controls costs while building value. Partners that focus on standard “lift and shift” migrations may not have this expertise. Fifty Seven Pounds has the experience with several cloud platforms necessary to help you make the most of your migration at the pace that works best for you.