Companies both start-ups & enterprises are moving to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model. The benefits of moving to SaaS are lower up-front cost, quick set up and deployment, easy iteration & upgrades, accessibility and high scalability.
SaaS is a licensing and delivery model where software is centrally managed and hosted by a provider and available to customers on a subscription basis. When your business starts growing globally, the software solutions deployed in each region will become fragmented. To resolve issues like functioning with no common infrastructure, having to rewrite the code and implement custom features for each region, and deployment takes a long time with the current system, enterprises started moving to a common architecture which is Software as a service model.
So what are the steps to shift from an on-premise implementation to a cloud-based SaaS solution?
1. Start by evaluating your current environment
If you are trying to move into a SaaS, first look at the current product infrastructure.
You have to ask questions like:
- Is there a better way to implement the existing functionalities using latest technologies & frameworks?
- Are there a lot of functionalities that are not being used?
- Will it require refactoring for a cloud environment or is it cloud-friendly?
Because at times the effort needed to migrate is higher than the result. Not every system is worth upgrading. Also analyse the infrastructure used by the app such as the amount of storage needed, analytics, data generated, networking and expected SLA (service level agreement). Consider the money spent on server management, hidden costs involved and physical servers. An in-depth analysis of the costs and infrastructure helps you in identifying how to optimize the apps for better efficiency after migrating the apps.
2. Choose the right cloud provider
Then you need to think which type of cloud is suited for your application. Choose a cloud provider which is convenient to use, cost-effective, flexible and highly scalable. Then define the architecture required for the migration after selecting the type of cloud. Consider computing power, storage requirements, etc. You must check if your hosting requires load balancers or database replication to avoid problems in the future. Then select the cloud provider that will fulfil all your requirements.
3. Get your applications cloud ready
The next step is to make your app ready to be moved to the cloud. During the migration process, you can either consider to take advantage of a deep cloud integration — which is using the services such as autoscaling, dynamic load balancing like implementing serverless computing for parts of the app such as AWS Lambda. It might also require to use a cloud-specific data storage such as DynamoDB, Amazon S3 etc. Else you can go with a shallow cloud integration, where you move the on-premise application to the cloud and make no changes to the servers you instantiate in the cloud for running the application. Choosing which one to go with depends on what you are trying to achieve & how easy it is to migrate your current application to a cloud-based stack.
When it comes to cloud deployment, a common misconception is that it’s a one time task. However, the reality is that the process of migrating the application to the cloud happens gradually. The process should be repeated every time you update the application with some new changes. In one word, you should be very much planned on your DevOps process.
You must back up the existing servers and data before migration. Store your data safely and make sure that it can be retrieved easily. Then set up the cloud environment. Do the provisioning, connections, and testing of all the individual constituents separately.
The process of migration may require some changes to be made in the data & the architecture. Ensure that they are working appropriately after moving to the cloud. Start with the services that have the fewest dependencies and then migrate the one which has more.
6. Switch over production
The complexity of switching to production depends on the architecture and complexity of your application, and especially the architecture of the data store. The best approach is to move it all at once. Move the entire application or service over to the cloud. Validate that it works properly there and then switch users to the cloud app. Or do it a little bit at a time. Test that things are still working after moving a few customers over, and then move a few more customers. Keep doing this until you’ve moved all your customers to the cloud-based application.
Attempting to migrate a licensed, on-premise product to a recurring revenue SaaS solution is probably the most laborious task a business can take up.
The complexity of switching to production depends on the architecture and complexity of your application, and especially the architecture of the data store. The best approach is to move it all at once. Move the entire application or service over to the cloud. Validate that it works properly there and then switch users to the cloud app. There is another approach where you can make it step-by-step but that doesn’t work well for a cloud-based SaaS.
The changes after moving from an on-premise product to a SaaS-based subscription model impacts the business hugely. We can expect more people coming into the SaaS because of its big advantages.