Everything you need to know about migrating to the cloud

From cloud migration benefits to alternative options - this guide has got your back.


Whether you’re just looking to get to grips with the basics or you need helping hand planning your cloud migration strategy – this detailed guide has you covered.

  • Let's start with the basics

    First, let’s ease ourselves in by first answering the question – “what is cloud migration?”

    As you’re probably aware, the cloud has become the default platform for most new IT services. This is in part is due to fact it provides a more flexible, scalable, secure and affordable way to consume IT-as-a-service. But what about applications and systems that pre-date the cloud? This is where cloud migration comes in.

    Cloud migration is the process of moving applications and systems from traditional datacentres and computer rooms into the cloud. A process that enables legacy applications that were once sitting in dusty old server rooms to benefit from a 21st-century facelift. A process that will yield an assortment of juicy benefits – but more on these later.

    But don’t take our word for it.

    In our recent State of Cloud Adoption report, 85% of public sector organisations said they would migrate more workloads to the cloud if they could mirror their existing environment.

  • What other terms relate to cloud migration?

    There are many IT terms that can be associated with cloud migration. Prior to the emergence of cloud, organisations would instead look to perform a datacentre migration; the movement of applications and systems from one datacentre to another. For example, when an organisation moves from one office building to another.

    Cloud migration is the modern alternative to a datacentre migration – replacing traditional datacentres with cloud-based services.

    Other terms that relate to cloud migration include:

    Datacentre modernisation Digitalisation
    IT modernisation Cloudification
    Cloud Adoption Rehosting
    Digital Transformation Cloud repatriation
  • Is cloud migration only for moving from one cloud to another?

    No. The most common migration is from a non-cloud environment such as a traditional datacentre into the cloud. Given that up-to 80% of an organisation’s IT resources is focused on maintaining existing applications – it’s much more likely that you’ll want to migrate an existing application into the cloud rather than migrate a new application from one cloud to another.

    What are the scenarios where I’d want to migrate from one cloud to another?

    There are times when migrating from one cloud to another is desirable. Maybe you’ve deployed the wrong type of application to the wrong cloud – for example running a system that is not elastic and consumes the same level of resources 24/7 on a global cloud platform. Resulting in significant cost overruns. To avoid this continued expense, these organisations can consider a cloud migration from a global cloud platform to a multi-cloud platform such as a private cloud.

    Another common scenario is ‘shadow IT’ where users in your organisation have begun to use a cloud service without going through the correct process. Occasionally, there are valid compliance and security reasons why non-authorised cloud services should not be used – and hence there is a requirement for a cloud migration from a shadow IT service to an authorised cloud service.



    The biggest mistake organisations make when it comes to migrating to the cloud is assuming that all cloud environments are alike.

  • Why should I consider migrating to the cloud?

    Statistic taken from State of Cloud ReportMany organisations have a traditional datacentre or computer room which lacks the scale, resilience and affordability to support the organisation’s goals. Datacentre Modernisation is the programme of updating the technology within the datacentre achieve suitable levels of resilience and security. Rather than invest capital expenditure (CAPEX) in depreciating IT assets, the appeal of moving to an operating expenditure (OPEX) based service with ever-green IT assets is very alluring. Hence, organisations are increasingly favouring a cloud migration as a way to achieve datacentre modernisation.

    Some organisations have already started to use the cloud.

    Often, we find organisations make mistakes by putting the wrong workload into the wrong cloud – resulting in significant cost overruns. To avoid this continued expense, these organisations can consider a cloud migration from a global cloud platform to a multi-cloud platform.

  • Key things to consider when migrating to the cloud

    The key consideration when planning any migration is to be sure your heading to the right destination.

    Many organisations desire the simplicity of using a single cloud provider for all their requirements. However, cloud platforms are optimised for certain use-cases and there is no single cloud that is ideal for the diversity of requirements that most organisations will have. Hence, the destination will most likely be a combination of multiple cloud services spanning Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

    Once an organisation accepts that their migration will involve multiple clouds, they then need to consider how they’ll secure the skills and tools to reduce the time, cost and risk of making the cloud migration happen. The skills and tools required for building new cloud native applications are very different those required to assess, migrate and test traditional application architectures as they move into the cloud.


    The benefits of the cloud are long and growing – but that doesn’t always mean it’s the best option for you.

  • Cloud Migration Alternatives

    Consider the most common scenario of an organisation needing to deal with the resilience, scalability and security challenges of inefficient IT within traditional datacentres. This organisation will have a number of options which include a cloud migration:

    1. Datacentre technology refresh

    We all know that technology advances at an amazing pace. Unfortunately, that means that the servers, storage and networks you invested in just 5 years ago are reaching end-of-life. As technology gets older it is more likely to fail – and it’s more susceptible to security vulnerabilities too. One option to avoid a migration is to do a technology refresh – a significant investment in facilities and infrastructure which will buy you another 3-5 years before you face the same problem all over again. Cloud migration helps you break this vicious cycle – as well as unlocking the enhanced scalability and affordability of cloud.


    2. Datacentre migration

    Many datacentres and computer rooms are just not fit for purpose. They are not scalable, resilient or sustainable (energy efficient) – no matter how much is spent on the IT systems within it. Hence, some organisations will be planning a migration from one facility to another. Typically, they will consider a purpose built facility such a Crown Hosting Data Centres (CHDC) which provides economies of scale combined with security and sustainability. However, a datacentre migration still requires the organisation to invest in IT infrastructure such as servers, storage and networks. These are depreciating assets that have a finite usable life of just 3-5 years. Again, cloud migration helps you break this vicious cycle without compromising on scalability, sustainability or affordability.


    3. Cloud migration

    This option builds on the previous two. Cloud platforms are hosted in purpose built datacentres, and some providers like UKCloud use the same facilities as Crown Hosting Data Centres (CHDC) and so share those security and sustainability benefits. Unlike the previous two options, cloud migration releases the organisation from the vicious cycle of having to re-invest in and refresh depreciating IT assets every 3-5 years as the servers, storage and networks are provided as part of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) which you pay for based on your level of consumption. It is the responsibility of the cloud provider to ensure you are always consuming up-to-date, resilient and secure infrastructure. In this way, organisations achieve a perpetual datacentre modernisation as they never need to worry about modernising datacentre technology again.


    Congratulations! You’re moving to the cloud. The trouble is, now you have to do all the heavy lifting. Or do you? Here are the alternatives...

  • Cloud Migration Options

    1. Do it yourself

    The first option is to have your internal IT function plan and execute the migration from existing datacentres and computer rooms to the cloud. Across public sector, we are aware that internal IT functions generally lack the capacity and capability to keep up with ‘business as usual’ demands – never mind the ability to take on a complex programme like a cloud migration.


    2. Migrate to a single proprietary cloud

    A common option is to partner with an organisation that has a depth of experience in your preferred target cloud platform. In our experience, there isn’t a single cloud that is optimised for every use-case or application. So the risk here is that you’ll end up migrating the wrong application to the wrong platform – causing budget overruns and project delays.


    3. Migrate to multiple infrastructure and software clouds

    A multi-cloud partner like UKCloud will ensure you use the right combination of cloud platforms to meet your specific needs. It’s much cheaper and less risky to migrate Oracle to Oracle or VMware to VMware – hence multi-cloud can make your cloud adoption happen – cheaper, faster and safer. And with your multi-cloud partner focused on the underlying cloud, your precious IT resources can focus on better serving your internal and external customers.


    Still not sure? Take this short quiz to find out which cloud migration strategy is the best fit for your organisation.


    Newsflash – cloud provider says moving to the cloud could be a good idea. But don’t just take our word for it, here’s what the analysts and other cloud vendors have to say…

  • Cloud Migration in Real Life

    Most analysts have been promoting cloud for over a decade, and now there is almost universal acceptance of multi-cloud as being the prevailing cloud strategy.

    The truth is, there’s almost an infinite number of external resources that all preach about the benefits of the cloud. These are just four of our favourite pieces of published content. Remember, a successful cloud migration project is all about finding the right platforms for every workload.


    Whilst we’ve dropped some hints here and there – here’s a summary of the core benefits your organisation could realise by migrating existing workloads to the cloud.

  • What are the benefits?

    1. It’s cheaper (most of the time)

    The cloud’s pay as you go pricing model means you only pay for what you need. A model which means organisations no longer need to fork out for expensive new kit for redundant workloads – organisations can simply consume cloud services that allows them to deliver IT services as and when they’re needed. Take hosting as an example. Why invest large sums to perform a technology refresh – which will be hideously under utilized – when a cloud provider can remove that headache entirely?


    2. You’ll be doing your bit for the planet

    Every organisation in the world has a moral obligation to do whatever they can to reduce their carbon footprint. Migrating workloads to the cloud can help to make both energy and resource usage more efficient with the use of virtual resources, automation, and pay-as-you-go pricing models. These benefits, coupled with the ability to self serve, organisations to better utilize compute – removing the need to run on-premise datacentres 24/7!

    Several cloud computing providers have replaced their energy sources with green alternatives, whilst others – including UKCloud, have committed to delivering their services as Carbon Negative.

  • What are the benefits?

    3. IT departments can focus on generating value

    Whilst digital transformation grabs all the headlines, 80% of IT budgets do little more than help keep the lights on.

    By migrating your workloads to the cloud, your organisation can claw back some of that 80% – while freeing up time to focus on those digital transformation projects you’ve otherwise been putting off. Move data storage to the cloud and your IT team can focus on realising the power of data analysis. Check out SaaS applications before commissioning your next in-house application build. Or even utilise dedicated cloud hosting services so you can remove the burden of having to update and maintain legacy infrastructure. The cloud offers plenty of opportunities to refocus and re-energise your team.


    4. Application availability will improve

    Users expect online services to be available 24×7. Of course we do. Unfortunately, IT failures are as inevitable as death and taxes.

    Migrating applications to the cloud remove will help remove single points of failure. Imagine a piece of hardware crashes? Cloud providers will be able to redistribute workloads to new machines. Simples. This coupled with the fact that many cloud platforms provide external monitoring capability, means you can take a pro-active approach to application availability. Now you can identify cyber threats before they occur.

  • What are the benefits?

    5. And become increasingly secure…

    Cloud providers invest huge sums of money to ensure the equipment they use is of the highest order.

    However, for companies that need to protect sensitive datasets, it’s worth exploring how the government’s secure Crown Campus opens up the opportunity to migrate legacy applications to cloud or develop new, cloud-native apps. As an example of a cloud provider operating on the Crown Campus, UKCloud is capable of hosting above OFFICIAL workloads – all with native access to government-grade networks, including Janet, PSN, HSCN, and RLI.


    6. You can burst into the cloud when you need more capacity

    Traditionally, cloud bursting is a technique used where an application is initially deployed in a private cloud environment but will then burst to the public cloud in times of peak demand. One of the key benefits to this hybrid cloud deployment model is you’ll only pay for extra computing resource as and when you need. However, cloud bursting isn’t for everyone. Experts go as far to suggest it should only be reserved for high-performance, non-critical applications that don’t handle sensitive information. More about cloud bursting is available here.

  • What are the benefits?

    7. It can even cater for CAPEX business model

    84.5% of respondents to our State of Cloud Adoption Survey agree that cost/affordability is the biggest impediment to cloud adoption and digital transformation. 47.7% of those surveyed find CAPEX costs easier to budget for than OPEX costs. Again, whereas public cloud solutions are optimised for OPEX budgets, organisations need to turn to multi-cloud and private cloud in order to make best use of their CAPEX budget.


    8. Keep up to date with data protection laws

    The cyber threats from nation states, organised criminals and opportunists is at an all-time high. And regulation requirements – such as GDPR – is heightening public perception of the value of their data privacy. Compliance is key to manage risks and deliver digitally resilient services. Rather than focus on threats at an organisational level, organisations like UKCloud ensure their customers benefit from UK-based data centres that are maintained to the highest levels of security by a team of specialist staff.

    Cyber threats to sensitive data are in the hands of the experts, with cost-effective and rapid disaster recovery services and uninterrupted data accessibility.


    We should really use this as an opportunity to get to know one another. Here’s how UKCloud differs to traditional hyperscaler offerings and why we can help your next cloud migration project be a success.

  • How can we help you?

    UKCloud is devoted to making digital transformation happen in the UK public sector. We believe that cloud is a fundamental enabler for the adoption of digital technologies such as AI, IoT and automation that will deliver better services to citizens and better value for taxpayers.

    UKCloud is exclusively focused on the UK public sector and so have local multi-cloud experts and a community of specialist partners that will give your cloud migration programme a confident start and support every step of the way.

    We believe the choice and options are key to an actionable and affordable cloud migration strategy – migrating every application and system to the right cloud platform whether that is IaaS, PaaS or SaaS.

    And we believe that public services are a national asset and so we provide an uncompromising level of security and resilience to ensure your systems and services are safely protected as they shift into the cloud.

  • Do you have any examples of cloud migration?

    Yes. UKCloud has worked with hundreds of organisations on their adoption of cloud to support their digital transformation and datacentre modernisation.

    We’ve recently worked with a NHS Trust in London to migrate from their previous hospital facilities to the cloud. This saved them from having to allocate precious space at their new facilities to IT – instead this space could be used for patient services.

    We are also working with a leading business school as they migrate from their existing datacentre to a global cloud platform. They recognised that the global cloud platform was great for their newly developed cloud native applications, but not great for traditional IT systems.

    They’ve used UKCloud’s multi-cloud platform to give them the choices and options best suited to their existing IT environment.

  • Glossary

    Swift definitions for popular terms that just won't go away

  • For a quick and simple definition – click on the table below.

    • Runaway Cloud
    • Bill Shock
    • Cloud Bursting
    • Cloud Hosting
    • Cloud Storage
    • Hybrid Cloud
    • Private Cloud
    • Public Cloud
    • Software-as-a-Service
    • Platform-as-a-Service
    • Infrastructure-as-a-Service
    • Multi-Cloud
  • Like with bill shock, runaway cloud costs will often occur when legacy workloads are moved to the cloud without first assessing viability. Before moving any application to the cloud, an organisation needs to fully understand their resourcing requirements and impose strict procurement guidelines for cloud-based resources. For CAPEX-based expenditure, IT teams would have jumped through hoops to purchase a new server, but with cloud-based resources available at the click of the button, it’s easy to see how costs can quickly spiral.

    To avoid runaway cloud, conduct a thorough assessment of current application architecture to avoid migrating zombie servers to the cloud and ensure strict procurement guidelines as in place prior to migration.

    Remember that fancy restaurant which didn’t have prices on the menu? Remember how you felt when the bill arrived? That’s bill shock. But rather than paying for an overpriced coq-au-vin, this time you’ve been stung by the price of cloud-based resources.

    If you migrate legacy application to the cloud – which aren’t optimized to do so – then you’re in for a nasty surprise. However, migrating legacy workloads to dedicated cloud-hosting technologies – like UKCloud for VMware – will avoid bill shock altogether.

    Done right, a lift and shift approach could be your IT budget’s best friend.

    Traditionally, cloud bursting is a technique used for when an application is first deployed in a private cloud environment but will then burst to the public cloud in times of peak demand.

    This hybrid model is a great way to kick-start your journey to the cloud and experience the PAYG (pay-as-you-go) benefits that have become synonymous with the cloud.

    Rather than relying on a physical server to host application workloads, a cloud-hosting service will provide a network of virtualized servers from which your application can be deployed.

    This type of solution will offer greater resilience due to the increased number of locations the service can be hosted, greater flexibility in terms of cost (only paying for what you use), and provide your organisation with the opportunity to scale your solution to meet demand.

    Helping you avoid application downtime and disgruntled customers.

    Cloud storage is exactly what you’d imagine it to be. Like how we use dedicated servers to manage storage in our private data centres – you can now store that information in the cloud. And depending on the configuration, you can access this information through public internet or a dedicated private network connection.

    With UKCloud, native access to government and community networks (HSCN, Janet, PSN and RLI) means you could access privately stored information with ease.

    Like cloud bursting, a hybrid cloud environment will utilize both public and private cloud environments. However, there is often confusion as to how a hybrid cloud solution differs from multi-cloud. Typically, a hybrid-cloud solution will rely on proprietary software that will optimize workload performance between public and private cloud environments. A solution that will often be managed through a single vendor.

    Conversely, a multi-cloud solution will leverage the unique characteristics of multiple cloud providers. A methodology that is focused on finding the right cloud for every workload.

    A private cloud is a single-tenant environment.

    A single-tenant environment means you won’t share the underlying resources with any other organisation but yours. The resources that make up your private cloud can be hosted in your own internal datacentre or procured through a third-party organisation – like UKCloud. A configuration that appeals to organisations with specific security requirements.

    Depending on the type of applications that are hosted in a private cloud, your organisation will leverage virtualization or container software to optimize workload performance.

    Often, public sector organisations find it easier to budget for CAPEX expenditure rather than OPEX. If that sounds like you, then a private cloud could be the right fit.

    The public cloud is the cloud type that most people would be familiar with. It’s where many of the web applications we interact with on a day-to-day basis can be found. Netflix, Airbnb, Salesforce – all these services, in some form or other, are hosted in the public cloud.

    The main difference between public and private cloud is that the former is a multi-tenant environment. This means that you will share the same pool of resources with multiple companies. And just to be clear, by resources we mean physical hardware. In no way, shape or form will you be sharing application data.

    To put it simply. You’re hosting your workloads on someone else’s kit.

    Why build when you can buy? Too many organisations fall into the trap of building new applications from the ground up, when a better, SaaS-enabled solution might already exist. And what do we mean by SaaS? SaaS stands for Software-as-a-Service.

    Short-term, SaaS removes the need to manage and maintain any hardware. Longer-term, you’ll benefit from an ever-evolving feature set that enterprise IT teams rarely have time to deliver. Leverage the capability of specialist providers and both your users and your ITOps team will thank you for it.

    At UKCloud, we’ve partnered with over 300 organisations who provide specialist solutions for the public sector. Solutions that benefit from the government-grade infrastructure we can provide.

    Traditionally, there have been three cloud-computing models Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – with PaaS serving as the middle ground between the other two.

    Where IaaS will mean you are entirely responsible for an application’s underlying code, with SaaS, it’s the complete opposite. You simply consume a service. A PaaS cloud computing model enables you to build new software solution using pre-built modules and pre-set functionality. This gives developers the freedom to create new software without having to worry about the underlying operating system or hardware issues.

    Examples include: Red Hat OpenShift (available on UKCloud), AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Windows Azure and Heroku.

    Perhaps the best comparison for IaaS is an on-premise alternative.

    For an on-premise solution, a traditional data centre, you’re responsible for everything from the technology stack – right the way up to the application’s underlying code. That means networking, storage, servers, virtualization – that’s all your responsibility. However, if you deploy an IaaS cloud computing solution, you handover the responsibility of the hardware to someone else.

    You’re still responsible for everything up from the operating system – but hardware? Nope. There will be no need to reboot or patch servers any time soon.

    Examples include: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Rackspace, Microsoft Azure (available on UKCloud), Google Compute Engine (GCE).

    To us, multi-cloud is about finding the right cloud for every workload.

    Rather than hedging your bets on a single provider, a true multi-cloud strategy will capitalize on the benefits of multiple cloud providers. You see, every cloud has a unique set of characteristics that make it ideal for certain workloads, but sub-optimal for others.

    It’s all about finding the right tools for the job.

    Don’t fall into the trap of putting all your eggs in one basket. Otherwise, some will be certain to crack.

    Check out our multi-cloud guide for further info.