How to migrate a traditional App to SaaS?


How to migrate a traditional App to SaaS?

SaaS stands for Software as a Service and refers to a cloud-based delivery model for Software. This model has gained popularity due to its revenue potential for providers and the ease of access it provides to subscribers.

Many companies have turned their traditional applications into SaaS products by recognizing that the exact solutions they use internally can also benefit other businesses. Examples of successful SaaS companies that started this way include Slack and Shopify.

SaaS migration always involves drastic changes that the product frequently requires. These changes affect not only the Software but also the company’s business strategy, the vision of its owners, and the overall evolving approach.

Before making any changes, ask yourself:

  • Is your company prepared to transition from on-premise to SaaS?
  • Would a SaaS solution benefit your customers?
  • Will your product meet the needs of a new audience and thus win the SaaS race?
  • Are you prepared to follow strict business and financial plans to scale your solution?
  • Are you willing to change the way your teams operate?
  • Are you prepared for the complex migration process?

If you answered yes to all of them, it’s time to reconsider your company’s current path: This article will help you get started and be ready for any challenges with SaaS migration.

How should you prepare for the software transition to a SaaS model?

Here are a few essential factors to consider as you transition to SaaS.

From a technical point of view:

  • Review security measures for the project
  • Prepare for potential high workloads by building scalable architecture
  • Choose between single-tenant or multi-tenant SaaS architecture
  • Single-tenant provides “out-of-the-box” confidentiality
  • Multi-tenant is cost-effective but requires extra attention to prevent accidental data sharing
  • Ensure confidentiality is properly implemented if using a multi-tenant approach.

From a business point of view, it’s essential to understand

  • the abilities and benefits SaaS will provide for clients
  • unique selling proposition or distinguishing feature
  • the demand for the problem the SaaS is solving.

Benefits of App migration to SaaS

Cloud migration is gaining popularity among entrepreneurs and large corporations alike. This method shortens the time it takes to create business units, makes local data available, and offers a real-time experience.

SaaS application migration has numerous advantages, including quick implementation, scalability and mobility, effective disaster recovery, etc.

Let’s review the main benefits that might persuade you to take this route.

  1. Resources and Money Savings: No need to invest in computer power; scalability allows for cost savings and budget allocation.
  2. High Security and Compliance Support: Cloud providers offer advanced security solutions and compliance support.
  3. Full Accessibility: Data and app access from any location, no dependency on local equipment.
  4. Easy Scalability and Rapid Growth: Easy scalability allows for rapid growth and dynamic resource management.
  5. Easy Deployment: Shortened deployment time, focusings on other business needs.

Challenges of App migration to SaaS

Software migration to a SaaS model presents several challenges that must be considered and addressed to ensure a successful transition. Some of the most common challenges include:

1. Integration

Efficient integration with existing systems and seamless data transfer are critical to migrating to SaaS.

2. Updating

Keeping pace with the evolving technology and security standards of SaaS platforms is crucial to maintaining the integrity and functionality of the Software.

3. Customization

Finding the right balance between customization and the limitations of SaaS platforms can be challenging, requiring careful consideration and planning.

4. Data privacy and security 

Ensuring the privacy and security of sensitive data during the migration process and ongoing use of SaaS is essential.

5. Cost

Careful budgeting and planning for migration costs and ongoing SaaS expenses are crucial to the long-term success of the transition.

6. User Adoption

Encouraging user adoption of the new SaaS platform requires a well-thought-out approach and effective communication.

7. Technical support

Having a plan for technical support during and after the migration is essential to ensuring the continued success of the SaaS solution.

How to Migrate an App to SaaS?

The migration process may appear complicated, but the gradual step-by-step movement aids in its smoothness. So, let’s take a look at the stages.

Step 1: Analysis and Roadmapping

The first step in the migration process is to create a SaaS migration roadmap. This step allows you to assess the entire scope of work, review all aspects of the product, and identify the key touchpoints. In other words, road mapping provides you with an overview of the entire picture and its components.

The involvement of developers, business analysts, managers, and other professionals depends on the type of application. The creation of a roadmap involves three main stages:

  • Analytics and research
  • Prototype creation
  • Development of a strategic plan

These phases are crucial because they provide the information necessary to create the roadmap, which serves as a plan for the team to follow throughout the process.

Analytics and research

Specialists perform a detailed analysis of the following:

  • Detailed analysis of the existing application (features, business goals, architecture, integrations, strengths, weaknesses, etc.)
  • Analysis of the market and competing for products (trend approaches, market requirements, legal requirements, technologies used, etc.)
  • Analysis of the target audience (needs and desires, demand, trends, etc.)
  • Database design analysis (suitability for transformation, approach to work on them)

Prototype creation

Designers and business analysts create a product prototype using the gathered information during the migration process. This step helps to see how the existing product can be improved and what changes are needed.

Sometimes, the existing product may serve as the prototype and only require minor modifications. However, creating a prototype is an important step that helps to understand the client’s needs and preferences.

Development of a strategic plan

The final stage of the road mapping process is to develop a comprehensive SaaS migration plan. This plan will include a detailed evaluation of the entire migration project and the selection of the necessary professionals. The program will outline each team member’s project timeline, budget, team structure, and task assignments. A well-defined plan with clear steps helps ensure a smooth and successful migration process.

Step 2: Evaluate and Redesign Architecture and Databases.

This step establishes the changes to the application’s architectural structure and how it will operate after shifting to the cloud.

Architecture solutions

The aim is to ensure that the solution is scalable, maintainable, and can be properly migrated to the SaaS environment without causing any errors. This includes assessing the current database and data structure and making any necessary changes to optimize it for migration. The result should be a well-designed architecture ready for SaaS migration.

Database Assessment and Redesign

During this stage, engineers assess the database solutions and decide which cloud services will be used to redesign the app architecture. They consider various factors like data type, volume, and more.

Based on the app’s features and client needs, engineers choose the cloud deployment model:

  • Public cloud model (shared infrastructure for all users)
  • Private cloud model (dedicated services for data processing)
  • Hybrid solutions (a combination of private and public cloud or public cloud and local storage)
  • Multi-cloud model (using capacities from multiple cloud providers)

They also determine the method of database sharing by deciding how to separate data into multiple databases or within one database.

Step 3: Codebase update

Depending on the current state of the codebase, developers have two options:

  • Completely rewrite the code if it is unsuitable for the new delivery model due to outdated frameworks or programming languages. This option helps avoid potential problems in the future.
  • Improve and enhance the existing code if it is suitable for the cloud platform.

If developers choose the second option, they will go through the following steps:

  1. Code Optimization: Analyze and optimize existing code.
  2. Code Updating: Develop new components for SaaS solutions.
  3. Code Merging: Combine optimized code into a single codebase.
  4. Code Migration: Transfer code from one system to another.

Step 4: Testing

At this stage, testers check the stability and performance of the application. This includes testing for security (penetration testing), functionality (functional testing), and handling high traffic (load testing). They also test the integration of all components to ensure smooth and accurate operation. 

Fictitious data is used to prevent real data leaks. Once the quality assurance (QA) team confirms the application is functioning correctly, and any vulnerabilities are addressed, it’s time to migrate the data.

Step 5: Data migration

It is a complex process and requires careful planning. Before starting, it’s essential to choose the right:

  • Data migration model
  • Data migration strategy
  • Data migration tool.

Step 6: Settings and maintenance

After the SaaS migration is done, the app goes through an adjustment period. This includes further testing, verification, and adjusting settings. 

The app is now ready to use, and the development team monitors its performance, provides updates, and offers ongoing support. Keeping the app up-to-date and having a reliable support team is just as crucial as migration, as technology constantly evolves. 

The migration process can vary based on the app, features, and client needs, but a well-planned roadmap helps ensure a smooth transition.

Basic cloud migration strategies

To migrate a traditional app to SaaS, the right data transfer plan must be chosen based on the selected model for a smoother transition. Here are the fundamental strategies:

1. Refactoring (Re-Architecture)

This involves completely rethinking and modifying the app architecture to create a cloud-native version and use cloud-specific features. It requires time and robust testing but offers long-term cost savings, scalability, and increased stability.

2. Replatforming

This strategy also called “lift, tinker, and shift,” involves changing the platform during or after migration, and optimizing the cloud environment for improved user experience, security, and scalability. It requires less time and money compared to refactoring.

3. Rehosting

This is moving the app to the cloud without any changes, referred to as “lift-and-shift.” It is simple, inexpensive, and easy to implement, but a short-term solution as the old infrastructure remains in use.

4. Repurchasing

Also known as “drop and shop,” this strategy involves transitioning to a new product on a new platform, such as switching from local CRM to Salesforce service. It is simply due to unified procurement mechanisms but may cause compatibility issues in the future.

5. Retire

This strategy allows retiring the app and moving to a new solution. It is used when the app is no longer needed or cannot be migrated to the cloud.


Moving a traditional application to a SaaS platform can be difficult, but it is necessary to meet future demands. It’s better to make the transition before your Software becomes outdated and requires significant changes. 

To ensure a seamless and efficient migration process, it’s essential to conduct a thorough analysis, develop a comprehensive plan, and select the best data migration approach and strategy. Every step is critical, so working with a reliable and experienced team is advisable to achieve the best results. We can offer our expertise if you need assistance or have any questions.