Migrating to the Cloud: Lessons from AWS Migration

There are many reasons why teams should consider migrating to the cloud, moving away from switching physical servers and data centers. 

While the idea of migrating to the cloud can seem overwhelming, there are some strategies teams can use to handle the migration smarter, faster, and cheaper. 

Agility: Why You Should Migrate to the Cloud

The agility that comes with cloud computing is the most significant reason to migrate to the cloud.

Scaling Out

What would it take to provision a new server and set it up with all of your software to scale horizontally? When you need new hardware, it needs to be ordered, delivered, physically installed, networked, and then have the OS installed, hardened, and then have your software installed. 

For most small data centers, the turnaround time for implementing new software is typically around two weeks. Contrast this with working in the cloud where, with just a few clicks, new resources can be spun up in minutes. Even more agile, businesses can configure the cloud to automatically scale out based on application utilization, meaning you can configure your cloud application to add seats, storage, and more as your utilization increases. 

Scaling Up

What would it take to change the hardware to have more memory, disk space, or compute power? Again you are talking about acquiring physical assets, probably taking a server out of commission for a bit, replacing or upgrading it, and then putting it back into the physical and networked infrastructure. However, this is another process that can be accomplished with just a few clicks using the cloud. 

Server Patching

Cloud computing brings agility in reducing or eliminating the time spent patching your servers.

How much time does it take to keep your servers patched? Do you know what is faster than patching a server? Not having a server to patch in the first place! Businesses can replace API’s with serverless functions and compute instances with containers to run applications without having any servers at all! Running your applications in this way offers many advantages: one of them being you do not need to worry about patching anything! 


How are you deploying your application code? Have you had to build your own home-grown, automated, zero-downtime deployment mechanisms? That can be painful and time consuming! What a breath of fresh air to find that this is a solved problem in the cloud! Cloud computing brings agility in DevOps.

Migrating to the Cloud Smarter

A study from Dell showed companies that invest in cloud computing enjoy up to 53% faster revenue growth than their competitors. Cloud computing allows your business to operate smarter in a variety of ways.

Hosted Services

When companies have a large number of physical servers in a small datacenter, they may be tempted to take a “lift and shift” approach, basically migrating each individual server to a compute instance, a fully managed cloud-based workstation optimized for a machine learning development environment. 

There are many downsides associated with businesses managing their own instances however. They need to do their own patching, ensure high-availability by clustering across Availability Zones, networking, and auth, to name a few. 

For many organizations, migrating to AWS-hosted services makes more sense because it eliminates  administrative tasks so development teams can concentrate on building great software. 

Here is a list of migrations that businesses can perform to move their data to migrate to the cloud:

  • Serverless Functions: Amazon Lambda, Azure Function, Google Cloud Functions
  • Container Services: Amazon ECS / EKS, Azure Kubernetes Service, Google Kubernetes Engine
  • Pub/Sub: Amazon SNS, Azure Web PubSub, Google Cloud Pub/Sub
  • Queues: AmazonMQ
  • Object Storage: Amazon S3, Azure Blob Storage, Google Cloud Storage
  • Load Balancers: Elastic Load Balancer, Azure Load Balancer, Google Cloud Load Balancing
  • SQL Databases: Amazon RDS, Azure SQL Database, Google Cloud SQL
  • NoSQL: DynamoDB, Azure Cosmos DB, BigTable
  • In-Memory Key/Value Stores: Amazon Elasticache for Redis

Many of these hosted services have some hidden, built-in benefits. For example, AWS Application Load Balancers can do SSL termination, and AWS manages and automatically renews the certificates.

Amazon RDS allows you to restore a backup copy of a database to an exact point in the past that you could use for testing or querying. And businesses don’t need to be experts in order to set up their databases for high availability…this is just an additional option you select. It could not be any easier than that!

CloudWatch Metrics

CloudWatch is a fantastic tool that can be used for logging, monitoring, and alerting. Businesses can even publish their own custom events in their applications and create alarms to alert them if something goes wrong. 

Using CloudWatch for monitoring and alerting will help businesses find and fix issues before their customers report them. Teams can publish metrics so they can visualize and monitor key performance indicators, and can configure alarms to notify them when metrics cross certain thresholds. Getting faster visibility allows teams to fix things before customers experience issues. 

Disaster Recovery

If data is accidentally deleted due to human error, teams can use Amazon RDS to restore the database using the most recent point-in-time backup. 


Better security is a part of smarter cloud computing. While big companies have physical security, redundant power systems, top of the line firewalls, and isolated networks, small companies risk being infected by ransomware. 

Do not wait until you have to pay the price for a security breach in your server cabinet or small datacenter and invest in security now.

Migrating to the Cloud Faster

Migrating to the cloud doesn’t have to be as complicated or time-consuming as many companies assume. There are many ways businesses can migrate to the cloud faster. 

Infrastructure as Code

Using CloudFormation templates can help teams get started with Infrastructure as Code much faster than standing up the infrastructure by hand. Businesses can use pre-existing templates to accelerate creating their complex infrastructural components. 

Many cloud solutions also allow you to apply version control to your infrastructure, which is quite powerful. When companies need to create a new environment for dev, beta, production, or in another region, they already have all of the templates in place to build an accurate replica of the environment. 

Businesses can use tools like Cloud Development Kit, Terraform, and CloudFormation to leverage these benefits.

Migration Acceleration Programs

Cloud computing companies often have tremendous resources and programs to help accelerate and ensure the success of a business’ migration. They will often offer to help profile the company’s existing infrastructure, propose new architecture in their cloud environment, and subsidize internal and external consultants to assist in the migration. They also provide rich tools that can speed up the migration.

Data Migration Service

To assist in migrating to the cloud, teams can use a tool called the AWS Data Migration Service to migrate their production SQL Server database with close to zero downtime. This can be critical in minimizing downtime during an AWS migration. 

Utilizing this tool allows teams to essentially mirror their database into another environment in real time. Then, when they’re ready to cutover, they can turn off the old database in their physical data center and switch over to the new one in AWS.

Scaling Out or Up

When using physical servers, businesses must accurately project what their usage will look like and purchase the necessary equipment to manage that usage. These projections can be inaccurate and time consuming. 

With cloud computing, on the other hand, businesses don‘t need to think as hard about what their traffic will look like —they can make a quick utilization estimate and adjust to meet demand in real time. 

Migrating to the Cloud Cheaper

Oftentimes, when teams first go through an AWS migration, costs can be higher than expected. There are some strategies teams can use to reduce cloud spend by up to 50% in just a few months. 

The Cost of Not Migrating to the Cloud

First, consider one of the hidden costs of NOT migrating into the cloud. Many companies have a large staff of IT and Data Base Administrators to handle the administrative overhead associated with patching, networking, clustering, etc. When companies use hosted services the cloud provider takes care of most of this for them.

Additionally, if a business is not leveraging cloud storage, software developers may at times be pulled into working on networking, patching, or other general server management instead of building the next great new app or feature. Migrating to the cloud eliminates this opportunity cost. 

Auto Scaling Groups

An Auto Scaling group contains a collection of EC2 instances that are treated as a logical grouping for the purposes of automatic scaling and management. Auto Scaling groups make it easier for businesses to economically leverage cloud computing, align their capacity with their usage, and meet elastic demand. By A/B testing different instance types, teams can better identify which is best for each API to minimize costs, allowing them to scale their server traffic significantly. 

Consider how this would have worked in a datacenter: businesses would have to over-provision and would have no capacity to handle additional traffic if it suddenly came to their application. 


When businesses migrate servers to compute instances, they can over provision them to ensure they can handle the load. After that, businesses can quickly scale them down to “right-size” their instances. 

Right-sizing a business’ instances goes a long way towards cheaper cloud computing.

Reserved Instances / Compute Savings Plans / Spot Instances

After a team has taken the step to use auto scaling groups and right-sized their instances, they should have a good idea about what their resource utilization looks like.

This can be a good time to further optimize costs. AWS Reserved Instances and AWS Compute Savings Plans are excellent ways to reduce infrastructure costs. By making a commitment to spend at a certain level, instance family, or utilizing AWS Spot Instances, businesses can reduce their computing spend by up to 90%. 

Migration Credits

Oftentimes, AWS and other companies will offer subsidized migrations to new customers upon request. This can include credits, tools, and resources to help his company do cloud computing for cheaper.

Take Part in Migrating to the Cloud

There are many advantages of migrating to the cloud, some obvious and others not-so-obvious computing. You have all the tools to start your cloud migration—smarter, faster, and cheaper!

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