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What is Cloud Migration and How is it Done Securely?

What is cloud migration?

As more and more organizations take advantage of the benefits offered by cloud environments, partial and complete on-premises to cloud migration projects are becoming increasingly common. That said, the process of migrating applications and workloads to the cloud (or between clouds) presents multiple security challenges.

For example, to be successful, you need to:

  • Select the right approach: Choose whether to rehost your workloads (move workloads as they are), replatform them (make minor changes), or refactor them (re-architect them to maximize cloud benefits). 
  • Avoid wasted spend and unnecessary risk: Paying for additional cloud infrastructure you don’t need and won’t use isn’t only a poor investment; it also unnecessarily increases your attack surface.
  • Break out of silos: Don’t depend on security policies applied only within a specific cloud platform (e.g., AWS, Azure, GCP, private clouds). This siloed approach leads to disjointed security policies and one-off configurations that introduce risk.
  • Gain complete visibility: A secure cloud migration requires visibility and control over assets, even when workloads and applications span multiple cloud configurations. For example, to comprehend how an application performs, its dependencies, and what ports it uses, you need process-level visibility. After a migration, granular visibility lets you ensure the application is operating as expected.
  • Ensure security before, during, and after PaaS and cloud migrations: Keep things safe throughout the process while not slowing things down.

Continue to meet ongoing compliance requirements: Be sure not to loosen your compliance standards during the migration process.

Guardicore’s approach to cloud migration

Guardicore empowers you to understand application dependencies so you can speed up a cloud migration initiative. Quickly develop a hybrid cloud migration roadmap that takes you from mapping workloads and dependencies to monitoring your transition, then all the way through validating your migration and enforcing your policies. 

Guardicore’s software-based micro-segmentation solution also enables you to meet consistent security and regulatory standards as you progress from on-premises to cloud or multi-cloud deployments, expanding or contracting along with your business and compliance needs. 

With Guardicore, you get:

Cloud migration FAQ

How do I build a cloud migration strategy?

According to Gartner, the five most common techniques for building a cloud migration strategy are rehosting, refactoring, revising, rebuilding, or replacing. Each has pros and cons. 

  • Rehost – This “lift and shift” solution involves moving physical and virtual servers to an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solution. It lets you migrate your systems with no architecture modification, treating the cloud as just another data center. However, it isn’t highly available or scalable, and it still requires you to manage OS patches.
  • Refactor – This approach, also known as platform as a service (PaaS), lets you run applications on managed services from your cloud provider. You can reuse the frameworks, languages, and containers in which you’ve already invested. But, you’ll encounter transitive risk, missing capabilities, and framework lock-in. 
  • Revise – Modify applications, add functionality, or re-architect them to deploy them in the cloud. This can be time-consuming and expensive and may need to be broken out into multiple applications to work effectively.
  • Rebuild – Take an application and re-architect it, discard its original coding, and rebuild it on a PaaS infrastructure so you can use the innovative features your cloud provider offers. However, you may have to deal with vendor lock-in if you use this option.
  • Replace – Exchange the application with a software as a service (SaaS) option to avoid IT development costs. While you may have challenges accessing data or experience vendor lock-in, this option can work well for reducing the number of services and applications you need to manage. 


Regardless of what technique you choose, be sure that you map out all of your application dependencies, so you know to set your migration processes up correctly, from start to finish.

What are the main steps in cloud migration?

  1. Map your application workloads to determine what elements you need to consider during your migration, including security and compliance controls, so you can accurately scope your project.


  1. Identify your common service and business dependencies so you can make a proactive and informed decision on how you will configure assets. This will also help you determine security policies and avoid potential outages when you decommission on-premises versions of applications after a migration.


  1. Begin your cloud migration. During this time, be sure to set up any controls needed to reduce risk and ensure compliance.


  1. Now it’s time to validate that you have accounted for all dependencies and that the correct security policies are in place. Once you’ve confirmed everything is as it should be, you can securely shut down any on-premises assets you want to decommission.

For more detailed information, read Migrating to the Cloud Fast and Securely.

How long does a cloud migration take?

“It depends” is the somewhat frustrating answer. Most businesses do not move everything to the cloud at once. Many will never move everything to the cloud, ultimately ending up with a hybrid cloud environment.

That said, a single server with no integrated services could be moved in less than a week. Connected services could take anywhere from one to four months, depending on how complicated the setup and configuration are. Note that this estimate doesn’t include testing, training, etc.

The good news is that the more visibility you have into your environment, the more streamlined your migration will become. Once you have granular knowledge of connections and communications between your environment components, your migration process can happen significantly faster.

For example, the Cogna Group needed to keep its information secure both during and after its hybrid cloud migration, as well as mitigate risk and preserve the organization’s reputation. Using Guardicore Centra, the Cogna Group migrated its data center to the cloud in a mere two weeks. Read the full case study to learn more about how the education provider accomplished a swift cloud migration.

What tools are needed for a secure cloud migration?

From an operational perspective, you will require tools that enable visibility, flexibility, and security. These will allow you to execute a cloud migration and implement enterprise-grade security effectively moving forward. You should also ensure that your security solution enables the creation of cloud-ready policies with features like auto-scaling, so users can get the most out of the cloud’s flexible, burstable nature without compromising security. 

Other features to look for include cloud API integrations that enable enterprises to capture granular details on migrated infrastructure and dynamic labeling. Integrations with software-defined data center (SDDC) controllers, orchestration tools, and bare metal hardware are also valuable and ensure security policies follow workloads no matter where they are deployed.

What are the costs of cloud migration?

The costs associated with cloud migration can vary greatly depending on your goals and strategy. You need to account for the cloud model you’re adopting, the provider you’ll be using, and what resources you need to support the applications you’ll be moving to the cloud. You’ll also need to figure out how much your cloud services use will grow over time, and your organization’s unique security and compliance requirements. 

The good news is that, with Guardicore Centra, you can continue to use the same security solution across different clouds and on-premises, which makes your costs more manageable and predictable.

What are the benefits of migrating from on-premise to the cloud?

There are several reasons businesses migrate from on-premises to the cloud; common ones include cost savings, scalability, reliability, and availability, in addition to ease of use.

  • Cost savings – Minimal implementation costs, easier and lower-cost storage, low infrastructure overhead.
  • Scalability – Easy to scale up and down as needed, making growth and geographical expansion simple.
  • Reliability and availability – In addition to disaster recovery capabilities, this is an especially important point in today’s world of remote employees and extended supply chain environments.

Ease of use – Today’s environments can rapidly become extremely complex. Anything that can remove some of that complexity is a welcome addition.

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