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How to Migrate a Database to the Cloud

What is cloud migration?

Cloud migration is the process of transferring some or all of an organization’s computing resources to the cloud. The resources usually are migrated in one of the following three ways:

  • On-premises migration: From on-premises data centers to public clouds
  • Cloud-to-cloud migration: From one cloud provider’s platform to another cloud provider’s platform
  • Reverse cloud migration: From the cloud to on-premises data centers

Why move a database to the cloud?

Cloud computing offers the following benefits:

  • Lower operational costs:
    The cost of maintaining, securing, and supporting infrastructure becomes the responsibility of the cloud service provider handling the database management system. With the cloud, data center upgrades and additions. as well as the need to hire specialists to manage the new infrastructure, are no longer budget issues
  • End-to-end security:
    The best cloud service providers offer a multilayered, end-to-end approach to security that also makes use of onsite cybersecurity experts who address
    • Continual threat monitoring
    • Encryption for data in transit and at rest
    • Network protection
    • Application security
    • Data redundancy
    • Continuous validation
    • Mass file deletion protection
    • Suspicious login and activity monitoring
  • High availability:
    A database in the cloud is perfect for running applications that require reliable availability. A managed database in the cloud allows for easy file sharing, real-time collaboration, and better version control
  • Accessibility:
    IT departments are looking for computing methods that provide access to the utilities, applications, and software workers are accustomed to using in the office. Today’s work-from-home (WFH) and remote employees can access anything they do in the office via a managed database in the cloud
  • Scalability:
    Many cloud service providers automatically scale storage space for data according to demand. A managed database in the cloud gives organizations instant scalability based on workload needs. This dramatically cuts overhead costs associated with manually scaling resources
  • Focus on business, not infrastructure: A database in the cloud moves maintenance and support to the service provider. Your IT staff will spend much less time troubleshooting, which frees the team to add value in product design and application development
  • Automation:
    Choosing a cloud service provider that offers automated patching, tuning, and scaling means being able to adjust compute resources instantly as well as on demand

What are best practices for database cloud migration?

Determine the business value

Many organizations think of the cloud only in terms of cost efficiency, As a result, they don’t get the business value they would expect from their cloud deployments. Before beginning a migration, understand the unique business model and where the cloud fits in.

Choose the right approach for cloud migration
  • Move as-is:
    This approach addresses the basic needs of migrating to a new cloud architecture to meet application demands by moving sets of application servers and virtual machines (VMs)
  • Side-by-side migration:
    This option makes it possible for you to migrate integrations and processes in a phased fashion. It is a good choice for high-traffic environments running critical integrations and processes in which a specific window for migrating is not feasible
  • Lift and shift:
    This process is helpful for migrating many different environments such as demo, DevTest, and training environments to the cloud. Once an environment has been lifted, you can provision separate instances as needed

Once a cloud migration strategy is selected, the rest of the planning phase includes:

  • Determining the number of instances:
    Selecting the number of instances to migrate (DevTest and production) helps an IT department determine the number of integration instances to provision
  • Identifying regions:
    Select the regions on which to run the instances as well as which data centers will host them. To learn more about regions, visit https://www.oracle.com/cloud/data-regions/
  • Specifying requirements for new features:
    Define the new features your organization wants from cloud migration and the requirements the cloud service provider should be able to meet
  • Devising a cut-over strategy:
    Determine the best time for your organization to migrate
  • Addressing feature gaps:
    Understand all migration feature restrictions which may include quota limits and possible compliance issues
  • Setting a budget:
    Your cloud migration budget should include a new monthly expense for use of the cloud services
  • Creating an inventory of all the digital assets to migrate:
    Include the license type of each tool to ensure that your license covers cloud environments
  • Running performance checks:
    To prevent transferring issues along with resources, run a performance check before migrating a database to the cloud
Make sure software can be configured

Select a service provider with a platform that enables upgradable configurations. Although some cloud providers extend the software a little differently. To suit unique workload needs, cloud service providers use proprietary languages which only allow for designs within strict limitations.

Use the cloud for a competitive advantage

The cloud provides powerful and easy-to-use reporting and analytics capabilities for a variety of users, whether they’re senior executives, line managers, employees, or frontline process experts. In the past, teams may have had to wait for reports to come out of separate databases that proliferated across different departments and showed conflicting data. Migrating to the cloud allows organizations to gain easier access to data leading to faster decision making.

Choose a cloud architecture that meets both business and technology needs

Retire old models in favor of designs that will make the best use of the service provider’s cloud architecture. Make sure the cloud architecture addresses the needs of your organization. Types of cloud computing architectures include:

  • A baseline cloud with an autoscaling benefit for increased workload demands
  • A hybrid cloud architecture offering the flexibility of a private cloud with the ability to use a public cloud when additional resources are needed
Develop a security strategy

Take into account the security controls offered by the cloud service provider and how those controls work with legacy security systems that are still in-house.

  • Make sure the strategy will protect sensitive data both in transit and at rest
  • Consider a security approach that brings rapid, automated responses to detect possible threats which helps prevent breaches
  • Develop rules that assess user access based on identity and authorization
  • Look into single sign-on (SSO) authentication, which improves the user experience. SSO requires only one login to a network domain or application for access to other associated services
Set up a monitoring system

Continuous monitoring of the cloud enables a healthy cloud environment. You can set up your own monitoring system, or you can use the modules offered by the cloud provider. Whichever the case, ensure that you have basic visibility controls such as audit logs. If possible, use automation and analytics tools to set up regular security and performance alerts.

Automate the cloud migration process

Accelerate cloud migration by automating repeated patterns. The automation capabilities are determined by the cloud service provider and the provider’s tools which may include the following functionalities:

  • Run automated scripts
  • Implement controller-level automation
  • Automate optimization of servers

Choosing the right cloud service provider

Migrating to the cloud purely for cost benefits could limit the positive outcomes an organization can achieve as well as the service provider that is selected to meet current and future needs. Explore each cloud service provider’s offerings before making a selection.

  • Capabilities
    Review the services and capabilities of each cloud service provider under consideration and evaluate how each would complement and extend an IT team’s capabilities. Although some cloud solutions are highly standardized and can serve many different organizations, others require specific industry knowledge to maintain compliance and business rules for the cloud
  • Expertise
    Contracting with a third-party cloud service provider also means gaining a “cloud staff” of skills in IT security, maintenance, and administration without having to allot budget to hiring and new roles. This newly added expertise via the service provider frees an in-house IT staff from spending time and effort on administrative tasks and allows them to devote more attention to driving business growth initiatives
  • Organizational goals
    Migrating to the cloud must be a decision that is fully informed and based on a good idea of the cloud’s potential. What does your organization want to accomplish? Of the many advantages that are possible in cloud computing, which ones will really make a difference across your organization?
Ask each cloud service provider under consideration the following questions:
  • Will there be access to advanced cloud analytics tools?
  • Can the cloud service provider scale instantly to handle an increased number of workloads?
  • Will the cloud service provider be able to store, manage, and analyze the data in the cloud?
  • Can the cloud service provider show tangible efficiencies gained throughout the entire organization, or only within some areas?
  • Are there advanced tools available in the cloud for your company’s applications?
  • Is performance tuning and patching automated?

Once the goals for moving a database to the cloud lines up with a service provider’s capabilities and expertise, an organization will be able to make the right choices, including how the migration will be made and when.

Consider autonomous cloud computing

An autonomous database is a cloud database that uses machine learning to automate performance tuning, security, backups, updates, and management/maintenance tasks. An autonomous database in the cloud handles all these tasks without any manual intervention needed.

An autonomous database provides several benefits, including the following:

  • Maximum database uptime, performance, and security including automatic patches and fixes
  • Elimination of manual, error-prone management tasks
  • Reduced costs and improved productivity via automation of routine tasks

Oracle Autonomous Database provisions highly available databases, configures and tunes for specific workloads, and scales compute resources when needed—all automatically. By protecting sensitive and regulated data automatically, patching a database for security vulnerabilities, and preventing unauthorized access—all with Oracle Autonomous Database—operational costs can be reduced by as much as 90 percent.