Four key considerations when moving from legacy to cloud-native

Erik Sonnerskog, head engineer at zsah, cites four key considerations that organisations should make when moving from legacy to cloud-native

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) defines it as “scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds” – characterised by “containers, service meshes, microservices, immutable infrastructure, and declarative APIs.”

However, cloud-native computing is more than just running software or infrastructure on the cloud, as cloud-only services still requires constant tweaking whenever you deploy applications. With cloud-native technology however, your applications run on stateless servers and immutable infrastructure that doesn’t require constant modification.

According to a 2020 Cloud Native Foundation Survey, 51% of respondents stated improved scalability, shorter deployment time, and consistent availability as the top benefits for using cloud-native technology in their projects. Furthermore, Gartner claims more than 45% of IT spending will be reallocated from legacy systems to cloud solutions by 2024.

With obvious advantages, and a confident market starting to move forwards – it seems a simple choice. However, with many organisations still held back by complex monolithic legacy software which is struggling to keep up, some will find it particularly challenging to adopt this revolutionary new way of thinking.

Here are some critical steps to follow and some questions to ask to assess your organisation’s migration readiness.

Assess your organisation’s goals and expectations

Before starting this project, you need to understand what to gain. A business case for cloud-native migration requires you to present hard facts and financial projections to justify such a significant investment: start by determining the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), the resources required, and the projected revenues from adopting the cloud-native technologies.

Additionally, work with an experienced migration partner while developing the business case. This will help bring another perspective into the process to notice what you don’t.

Evaluate what you need to migrate

This question helps you identify the parts within the existing system that’ll migrate to the cloud-native environment. These parts include data, the current data format, and the application’s architecture. Some applications may not require extensive tweaking and can migrate as-is, whereas others will need fundamental change – all of which will affect project cost and timeframe.


Another crucial aspect of migration is security – and it requires a different approach. With cloud-native landscapes, the best approach adopted by 41% of organisations is embedding security solutions throughout the software development cycle.

Additionally, both the client and service provider are responsible for security. The client is responsible for securing their internal assets (data, APIs, apps) hosted in the cloud-native environment. At the same time, the migration service provider ensures the security of the overall landscape (infrastructure, storage, containers, etc.).

During the migration process, you’ll need a security solution that:

  • gives you more visibility across the entire cloud-native infrastructure.
  • manages regulatory and industry compliance – as operating in cloud-native environments requires you to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards. Ensure your provider implements compliance features to monitor your cloud-native services during and after migration.
  • automates security workflows – reducing non-compliance and freeing up your security team from routine tasks.

Furthermore, you can (and should) deploy several security tools during the migration process. These tools protect your data in transit from the legacy system and secure the networks transmitting your applications. They include:

  • SQL injection tools
  • broken authentication and session management
  • cross-Site Tracing (CST) software
  • application penetration testing
  • HTTP parameter pollution testing
  • cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

Digital tools are always useful – but don’t disregard the skills and expertise of the people around you. Ultimately, it is the successful training and re-training of your team that will determine the success of your migration strategy.

Start by focusing on data security, accessibility, and availability, because data is the most crucial asset in a cloud-native environment. Next, identify specific modules within the new platform that need specialised skills and provide appropriate training. For example, your current developers will need programming languages and tools to build container-based development environments, microservices, and tools.

In areas where you still have a skills gap, and the current staff cannot bridge it, your best option is to plug in your service provider’s staff. The migration partner already has a team trained in cloud-native services who can be assigned to you on a rotational basis.

Find the right partner

Securing the right migration services provider is the foundation of a successful migration process. A good migration partner has extensive experience spanning years and different industries – providing cloud hosting options that integrate your existing public cloud platforms as efficiently as possible. This way, you’ll not encounter single vendor lock-in limitations and you can scale your cloud-native applications across multiple platforms while optimising your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Written by Erik Sonnerskog, head engineer at zsah

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