Migrating Applications to the Cloud: Considerations & Requirements

Instructor: Giorgos-Nektarios Panayotidis

George-Nektarios has worked as a tutor and student consultant for five years and has a 4-year university degree in Applied Informatics.

It's a fact that certain firms are moving toward the cloud. What data or process activities are more suitable to move? How should data residency, network access and compliance issues be addressed? This lesson covers all of these matters.

To Migrate or not to Migrate!

It has been more than ten years since the cloud became popular and migration of applications to the cloud became a well-known option for companies to pursue. Enterprise data and applications can be housed in a private cloud, or stored using a public cloud provider such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Many of us may not know this, but the famous Gmail e-mail application by Google is actually a public cloud application. How do we decide what to migrate and what to keep in-house?

Migration Considerations and Requirements

When talking about migrating applications to the cloud, one typically refers to workloads. A workload is not a complete application, but is defined as a quantity of processing capability within the cloud. This may refer to more than one distinct application. Some of the concerns that have to be addressed deal with application independence and interdependence, workload functionality (as determined by business capability mapping) and data sources. The degree of data sensitivity and benefit from the cloud's inherent elasticity attribute are also key concerns. In addition, there are also certain fundamental considerations and requirements to analyze before deciding whether a particular workload is cloud-ready and whether to migrate it or not. Three of these are as follows:

  • Regulatory and legal compliance
  • Data residency requirements
  • Network access issues

Overall, when deciding which workloads to migrate, it boils down to two things: 1) cost-benefit analysis and 2) adherence to compliance rules. The considerations and requirements above are outlined in the following sections.

Regulatory and Legal Compliance

Regulatory compliance requirements are quite diverse and demand a case-specific migration approach. The regulations to be adhered to are mostly focused on bringing about appropriate security and privacy levels. There are some general considerations to address when making these decisions:

  • Are the data and workloads under consideration allowed to be hosted outside the enterprise's private cloud? One example may be cardholder or health-related data, which is more regulated and requires a higher level of security and privacy.
  • Does the physical location of data storage allow processing in a public cloud? Regulatory restrictions can be imposed on this, so a firm should take this into careful consideration.

Data Residency Requirements

Data residency requirements have mostly to do with where application data is located, how data is transferred and what security methods are in place to protect against breaches. These requirements apply not only to data, but to metadata as well.

Each piece of considered data comes with different concerns and requirements. The most frequently considered and important are:

  • Location requirements pertaining to data storage and processing needs
  • Special security algorithms to prevent breaches
  • Software requirements related to how data is accessed
  • Legal requirements regarding data archiving and session logging
  • Anonymity through protection of personally identifiable information (PII)

For example, if an Australian enterprise wishes to migrate to the cloud and move certain data abroad, it should look into the specific Australian privacy principles (APPs) concerning 'cross-border disclosures.' These principles prohibit sensitive data sharing between international geographical locations unless there is an exception, such as assistance in locating a missing person.

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