Cloud Migration Reversed: Migrating Off the Cloud

Hybrid Cloud

While most organizations prefer to move their systems and data to a private, public, or hybrid IT solution there is a growing trend of migrating off the cloud and back to on-premises solutions due to cost, performance, and security considerations. Migration can be complicated by technical and workflow issues like compatibility and business continuity, so you need to have an effective strategy in place.

This is a series of articles about hybrid cloud.

In this article, you will learn:


This article is part of a series on Hybrid IT.

Read more in our on premise object storage and hybrid cloud guides.

What Is Cloud Migration and Cloud Repatriation?

migrating off the cloudMigration is the process of redeploying an application or data storage to a new infrastructure, usually for performance, security, or pricing considerations. You can migrate with a lift-and-shift approach, without altering your application, or you can use a refactoring approach to restructure or rewrite the code of your application to fit the new environment.

Challenges to migration include ensuring data security and integrity, the compatibility of applications with new environments, and maintaining business continuity.

Many organizations opt for a cloud migration strategy, moving their systems and data to a private, public, or hybrid cloud solution. In cloud-to-cloud migration, organizations transfer applications or data from one cloud environment to another. Large cloud providers offer tools to help manage cloud migration.

Reverse cloud migration, also known as cloud repatriation, involves moving your applications back to an on- infrastructure or to a private cloud. Typically, organizations transfer part or all of their business components from a public cloud to a local data center, which is more secure and offers greater control over the computing environment.

According to an IDC survey, repatriation from public clouds is a growing trend. The survey found that:

  • 80% of respondents have repatriated workloads from public cloud environments within the past year
  • Over 70% of customers used  multi-cloud deployments
  • Repatriation rates increased when the costs of public cloud solutions were perceived to be higher than other computing costs
  • Organizations that have been operating for less than 25 years were more likely to repatriate public cloud workloads than older organizations.

One solution for evolving demands is the emergence of hybrid storage solutions that combine both on-prem (or private cloud storage) and public cloud storage. Together they combine the performance and scalability of public cloud offerings with the security and customizability of private or on-premises deployments. But for hybrid solutions to be viable, the two solutions (on-prem and public cloud) need to be interoperable.

On-Premises vs Cloud

On-premises computing environments differ from cloud environments in that the user owns and manages the technology. In theory, an on-premises solution could utilize the same technology as a cloud solution, but the consumption model is different. In practice, cloud providers are unlikely to offer specialist computing equipment, and cloud users have to rely on generic tools.

Furthermore, some government regulations require the use of on-premises data storage and operations to protect sensitive information. Organizations in the government, health, and financial sectors cannot rely solely on a cloud provider to ensure compliance with security regulations.

On the other hand, the large, dispersed networks of public cloud infrastructures allow many organizations to access more computing resources than they otherwise could. On-premises environments typically require a larger up-front investment but do not charge egress fees for for access to data.

Why do companies migrate back from the cloud to on-premises?
Companies migrate back to on-premises storage for a number of reasons. Some of the considerations for repatriation include:

  • Cost—while public clouds are highly scalable and can present a cheap option for sudden, infrequent surges in computing power needs, they are not always cost-effective for large-scale, year-round deployment.
  • Control over data and security—public clouds introduce security risks when configuration management is distributed among multiple users. Mis-configured buckets are a common cause of security issues. On-premises solutions, on the other hand, usually have consolidated management, have clearly defined security perimeters, and offer greater control over your data.
  • Performance—Public cloud performance (ie, data transfer rates to/from the cloud) are highly variable and depend on the available WAN bandwidth and the cloud provider’s overall workload at that time.
  • Vendor lock-in—you can become overly dependent on the cloud provider. If your entire system was developed using tools from a single vendor, it may be difficult to switch to a new vendor, and your options are limited if the provider starts charging more for the same services.

How To Plan Your Exit Strategy

Planning is key to ensuring a successful cloud exit. An adequate plan ensures business continuity and secures your applications when transferring them. You should prepare in advance in case you need to make a quick exit.

To build an exit strategy:

  • Make an inventory—create a new inventory list and go over all your assets so you don’t miss anything. Map all the dependencies of your application in the cloud infrastructure and locate all instances of your data.
  • Understand SLAs—you have to comply with Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) during the process of declouding or switching to a new vendor. Reexamine your SLAs so you know your obligations.
  • Start small—transfer smaller applications first, before working your way up to entire systems.
  • Test and retest—test the outcomes of potential solutions so you can weigh your options and select the right deployment model. Test in advance to avoid disruption when attempting to migrate.
  • Reallocate resources—carefully consider the operational viability, security, and longevity of potential solutions assess whether you need to consolidate your assets or realign your priorities. Plan for the time and expense required for migration.

Why You Need Cloud-Compatible Storage Devices

It is important to use cloud compatible storage devices when implementing reverse cloud migration. This allows you to integrate seamlessly between cloud and on-premises systems in a hybrid solution. You can use a solution like Cloudian that lets you move your data on-premises and continue working as you did in the cloud. It is compatible with cloud-based storage services, so applications can continue accessing cloud data. Cloudian recreates the scalability of the public cloud in your own private data center.

Learn more about Cloudian’s private cloud storage solutions.

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