SaaS Migration: benefits, approaches, and step by step migrating guide

The shift from traditional on-premise software to cloud-based solutions is becoming a goal more than an option. Microsoft is a prime example of a company that has welcomed such a transition. In 2020, Microsoft's Office 365 and Azure platforms experienced remarkable growth. They generated $48.4 billion — a 24% increase from the previous year due to on-premise to cloud migration. This transition demonstrates the impact of cloud-based services on business performance. Let's see if your company is ready to implement a SaaS business model.

Key takeaways

  • Preparation is key. Most businesses follow these steps in preparing their business for the shift and the migration itself: architecture review, migration strategy, cloud environment setup, data migration, launch, test and optimization, traffic switch to cloud, and lastly, performance review.
  • Before deciding whether to migrate to SaaS or not, evaluate the demand for SaaS solutions from your customer base, industry trends, and the benefits of scalability and flexibility. If you need to level up with the rest of the industry or need better scalability, it is time to start the move.

Why do businesses decide to move from on-premise to cloud?

Before diving deeper into what stands behind SaaS migration, it's essential to understand the motivations pushing businesses to make the shift. There are several reasons why organizations move from on-premise to cloud-based solutions. Check below.

  1. Scalability and flexibility. SaaS solutions offer unprecedented scalability, allowing businesses to repurpose their resources based on demand. Such flexibility will enable organizations to adapt to quickly changing market conditions and scale their operations efficiently.
  2. Cost-efficiency. Migrating to the cloud helps you forget the initial investment in hardware and infrastructure. With SaaS, businesses can subscribe to services on a pay-as-you-go basis, which means companies can now reduce expenses and have predictable operating costs.
  3. Improved collaboration and accessibility: Cloud-based SaaS applications facilitate seamless cooperation between online teams. Employees have access to data and tools regardless of their location, allowing them to work more efficiently, given they have an internet-connected device.
  4. Automatic updates and maintenance: SaaS providers manage software updates and maintenance on their side. It frees additional time and resources for businesses to spend on other needs. SaaS-based infrastructure is a way to ensure you have the latest updates and security patches with no hassle.
  5. Improved security: Data security, as the main concern of SaaS providers and their clients, is goal #1. This is why cloud businesses heavily invest in cybersecurity. The numerous SaaS security engineers and protocols mitigate the risks associated with data breaches.

Types of SaaS migration models

Cloud providers offer several SaaS migration models for organizations to choose from. Each model offers unique advantages to specific businesses. Let's dive deeper and see which one is best for you:

  1. Siloed migration: In the siloed model, businesses migrate their applications individually to the cloud while they are treated as separate projects. While simplifying the migration process, this SaaS migration model poses risks associated with coordinating migrated and non-migrated software.
  2. Layered migration: This migration model prioritizes systems over applications. Organizations can minimize disruption and maintain system integrity by prioritizing critical components and functionalities and considering dependencies between them as they migrate systems in a bundle.
  3. Data migration: It involves transferring on-premise data to the cloud-based SaaS platform. This model ensures data integrity, consistency, and compliance with regulatory requirements.
  4. Parallel migration: This type of migration involves managing both on-premise and cloud systems simultaneously. It allows businesses to minimize downtime and validate the SaaS system before they migrate the whole infrastructure. The parallel migration method reduces the risk of disruptions and ensures a smooth transition.

Challenges of SaaS migration

While you cannot deny the benefits, organizations should take several challenges of SaaS migration into account:

SaaS development solutions often involve storing data across multiple vendors, requiring organizations to comply with different governmental regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS. Making a business comply with all those requirements can be extremely difficult and time-consuming, yet worth the trouble.

Another big concern involves the online nature of cloud solutions, which introduces new security risks. Organizations must carefully evaluate the security capabilities of cloud providers and enforce additional measures (data encryption, access controls, and regular security audits) to protect their sensitive data from potential breaches.

Additionally, migration to the cloud means trusting a big part of processes to a third party. While this can be an opportunity to leverage expenses and reach that dreamy scalability level, it also means relying on providers for hosting, maintenance, and IT support. The cloud provider's reliability needs to be your top concern when choosing one.

Are you ready to migrate to the cloud?

Before starting a SaaS migration journey, businesses should ensure that they are ready for the change and transition as well as their IT infrastructure. There are several questions you should answer before:

Is the market ready?

Before considering migration to the cloud, evaluating market demand for SaaS solutions and assessing customer preferences would be your task #1. Conduct thorough market research to understand industry trends and your competition.

Here are some of the issues you will have to look at:

1) Demand from customers or prospects for a SaaS option. Receiving inquiries or requests for a cloud-based solution always indicates potential interest in SaaS. Understand your customers' needs to determine if it is the right time for you to migrate market-wise.

2) Industry trends. Also, if you notice a shift towards SaaS solutions in your sector (for example, your competitors start offering SaaS solutions), be sure the market is gradually embracing cloud-based services.

3) Scalability and flexibility benefits. If your industry increasingly prioritizes scalability and accessibility, it suggests the right moment for SaaS adoption.

Is your IT infrastructure ready?

Assess the current compatibility of your applications and IT infrastructure with the SaaS model of your choice. Consider factors like application architecture, scalability, data security, and compliance.

Read also: What is Multi-Tenant SaaS Architecture

Is your business ready?

Analyze the fees involved in SaaS migration (upfront costs, ongoing expenses, and revenue projections.) Develop an expense plan that aligns with your chosen SaaS model, market demand, and competitive dynamics in your industry.

Are operations in order?

Evaluate your organization's ability to support and maintain SaaS solutions, including staffing, training, service level agreements (SLAs), and customer support processes.

You can also use questions from the AWS-suggested approach for evaluating your readiness for the SaaS migration:

Source: AWS

SaaS migration process step-by-step

Today, migrating to SaaS is a strategic imperative for businesses that want to stay competitive. However, it involves a lot of planning, testing, and continuous optimization. This guide will help you master the SaaS migrating process — just follow the steps below.

Step 1: Review your application's architecture

Start by evaluating the state of your application's architecture and infrastructure and identifying potential obstacles. This will help you plan the migration strategy.

Think of how the components of your system will integrate into the cloud environment and how they convert to the cloud services. For example, a common LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) may be converted to AWS services in the following way:

  • Amazon EC2 — hosting
  • Amazon RDS — database management
  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk — application deployment.

Tip: A great deal of which cloud providers you will use depends on what tools you already use. For example, organizations that are deeply integrated with the Windows ecosystem will find it easier to migrate to Azure since it is basically the same environment.

Step 2: Create your migration strategy

Any strategy underlines the business objectives. Think of what your business goal is:

  • Performance enhancement for faster response times, higher system reliability, and reduced latency;
  • Scalability for the ability to compute high user demand, manage traffic spikes, and minimize downtime; or
  • Cost cutting for more efficient resource allocation.

Once you have prioritized your business goals, it's time to decide on the SaaS migration approach — whether it's lifting and choosing, re-platforming, or re-architecting. In simpler words, is your infrastructure ready to migrate as it is, partially, or does it have to be completely redesigned with cloud-native components?

Step 3: Set up your cloud environment

Setting up an AWS, Azure, or GCP environment, configuring security settings, and supplying necessary services always require an expense. Ensuring your cloud environment meets security and performance standards is extremely important. This is why most organizations rely on a cloud computing expert to set them up.

In this case, Brights is a reliable partner in empowering your cloud potential: cloud computing, SaaS migration, DevOps, and IT support. Our team of experts will handle your migration while maintaining high compliance and security standards.

Step 4: Migrate your data securely

Planning your data migration is the only way to maintain the safety and integrity of your application. Follow these steps to make sure your data transfer goes smoothly:

  • Estimate data size and network bandwidth.
  • Use AWS Snowball, Azure Data Box, or Google Transfer Appliance for large-scale data transfers.
  • Explore hybrid approaches to hosting data (companies with high-risk data protocols usually prefer storing sensitive data on-premise and other databases on the cloud).
  • Continuously monitor the data transfer process and optimize performance using cloud monitoring tools like Amazon CloudWatch, Google Cloud Operations Suite, or Azure's Monitor.

Step 5: Launch your application on cloud

After transferring data onto the cloud environment and making sure the migration process went seamlessly, it's time to launch your SaaS application. This process will take several steps:

  1. Installing infrastructure components. Set up basic infrastructure components like load balancers, VPCs, and security groups. Create an auto-scaling group of EC2 (AWS) instances behind an Elastic Load Balancer to ensure application availability.
  2. Set up dependencies. Configure web servers and databases to support your SaaS application.
  3. Deploy configuration files and code. By using automation tools like AWS Elastic Beanstalk or CloudFormation, you can simplify the deployment process and ensure correct resource provisioning.
  4. Verify functionality. Test your application to make sure all features function correctly, and communication with the databases and external services is well-established.

Step 6: Test and optimize performance

In this phase, focus on ensuring maximum performance for your SaaS application. Begin by checking for functionality, stability, and compatibility across various system components. Mimic different user scenarios to ensure a seamless experience.

Once you identify issues, address all performance blocks, compatibility issues, or functional inconsistencies. Optimize your code, streamline database queries, and allocate resources efficiently to ensure your application works flawlessly.

A crucial part of this phase is scalability and load testing. Try high-user traffic scenarios to evaluate your application's scalability. You can use tools like AWS Load Testing services or Apache JMeter to measure your application's response.

Step 7: Switch traffic to cloud

Configure DNS settings and gradually transition traffic to your chosen cloud. You will need to monitor performance very closely to ensure a smooth transition.

Step 8: Ensure resilience

It is imperative to implement backup and recovery procedures, monitor logs and metrics for anomalies, and optimize resource usage.

Following the steps above, you can smoothly migrate your SaaS application to AWS, Azure, or any other cloud platform. However, what is even more important is to set up your SaaS infrastructure in a way that would benefit your business most. Read on to find out how can help you leverage your digital potential for your business advantage.

How to successfully conduct SaaS migration?

If you want to seamlessly migrate your application to the cloud, the Brights team is what you need. We have over a decade of experience in architecting and developing SaaS solutions. Our cloud engineers leverage leading development practices and cloud-provider partnerships to build highly scalable and cost-effective products while ensuring data security. We provide application evaluation, SaaS migration strategy development, infrastructure deployment, and optimization on AWS, GCP, Azure, and Heroku.

Whether you need your technical team enhancement or SaaS consulting, we're committed to delivering solutions that meet your business needs.


SaaS migration defines a significant opportunity for businesses to update their IT infrastructure, enhance agility, and drive innovation. By following our guide and leveraging best practices, organizations can successfully conduct a SaaS migration and reap the benefits of cloud solutions.

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