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Migrating Onsite Applications to the Cloud, Part 1

In today’s article, we’re going to give an overview of the process of migrating an onsite or locally-installed application to the cloud. The intended audience of this post is non-technical people that are somewhat familiar with cloud computing and are considering migrating their onsite applications to the cloud, but are interested in learning more about the process before moving forward with it.

Let’s start by clarifying what we mean by an onsite to cloud migration of an application. Onsite applications are those that you install or host on your own hardware at one of your own offices. This can include applications installed on individual PCs as well as multiuser applications hosted on onsite servers. Cloud-based or hosted applications, meanwhile, are applications that you host on the hardware of a third-party IT hosting company. In IT, “migration” is when you switch an IT asset such as an application or server from one hardware or software platform to another.

When we say that we’re migrating an application from onsite to the cloud, therefore, we mean that we’re moving an application (along with all of its existing data) that’s hosted or installed on hardware at one of your offices to a cloud hosting service.

Now, before we talk about the how of onsite-to-cloud application migration, let’s talk about why you would want to migrate your application in the first place. The advantages of cloud-based applications over onsite applications include:

The ability to access your applications from anywhere with any device. Many cloud-hosted applications can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected computer, tablet, smartphone, or thin client. This allows employees to access their applications even when they’re away from the office. It also allows businesses to keep their applications centralized.

The ability to add any amount of users, processing power, and storage space to your applications at any time. You can add (or decrease) any amount of users, CPUs/vCPUs, RAM, and HDD or SSD storage space to (or from) your cloud-hosted application at any time. This makes it easier to adjust to changes in your business, such as when you hire employees and need to add them as users, or when your sales increase and you need to add processing and storage resources to your e-commerce, accounting, and CRM systems.

Lower costs. Cloud-hosted applications don’t require the purchase of any onsite servers. They can also potentially allow businesses to reduce their end-user device costs, since they perform just as well when accessed from low-cost thin clients or older or refurbished PCs, and can be securely accessed from employees’ personal devices.

Increased security. Cloud-hosted applications are more secure than onsite applications, since with cloud-hosted applications your data usually remains on the hosting company’s servers at all times, and cloud providers usually protect their hosting infrastructure with more advanced security measures than the average business—measures such as 24x7x365 security monitoring, enterprise-level firewalls, gateway antivirus, and IDS/IPS.

Less IT management hassles. Some hosting providers will monitor, protect, update, and back up your cloud-hosted application for you. This allows your employees and you to avoid having to manage your cloud-based applications yourself; it also ensures that you won’t have to hire any additional IT personnel to manage them, either.

Check out the second part of this article to learn about the actual process of performing an onsite-to-cloud migration.