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How to migrate from self-managed Elasticsearch to Elastic Cloud

November 30, 2021 / 7 min read

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Many companies have started their digital transformation, becoming elastic cloud enterprises. But the evolution of technology over the past ten years now presents a challenge. Should you go for the "old world" open-source option or the new opportunities offered by the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model?

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Until a few years ago, the answer would have been simple: open-source was booming, considered an engine of innovation at the service of the community. Being able to use software without first having it installed on a machine seemed like a sweet utopia. And yet, things have accelerated, and more and more companies and users today are opting for the ease and performance of SaaS, and elastic compute cloud. Elasticsearch is no different. More and more users are choosing to use Elasticsearch as part of Elastic Cloud. So, where does this growing trend come from? What do companies gain from it? And most importantly - how do you properly migrate from self-managed Elasticsearch to Elastic Cloud? You can read all about it in this article.

Learn how migration to Elastic Cloud can benefit your business

Deployed in the cloud and adapting to any internal infrastructure, SaaS offers many immediate benefits to businesses. Since the software is accessible from any computer and is no longer dependent on a company's IT system, anyone can potentially use it on their workstation, even on the go. In addition, the integration process is easier and faster. This model guarantees hassle-free updates for customers as it's the vendor who manages the update process. Depending on the solution, the customer may decide if and when to perform the update.

Finally, SaaS is also of financial interest to the company. The payment mode shifts from the purchase of a license to a subscription, and usage is no longer an investment but an operating cost.

In the case of Elastic migration, the above statements are also true. But without specific data, you may still wonder if you should migrate to the cloud. Let's find out what real business benefits you can gain by choosing Elasticsearch migration.

What are the benefits of migrating to the cloud?

Overall, users of fully open solutions need to manage Elastic software on their own. Elastic Cloud provides access to Elasticsearch Service as a service (SaaS) and many of the premium features of an Elastic Stack subscription. It also offers services such as technical support, training and consulting. In addition, Elasticsearch users can save a lot from migrating. In fact, the main cost of Elastic comes from the infrastructure you need to set up for it.

1 Easier setup

Elastic Cloud typically has fewer configuration steps, shorter deployment requirements and works with different cloud providers - Azure, AWS and Google.

With an account setup, Users can do everything via the website. Alternatively, it is possible to set up clusters directly from the Azure portal. Usually, this option is more expensive, but you have all your expenses in one place, which can also be attractive for business.

2 Simplified administration and full support

Elastic Cloud offers Elasticsearch as a managed service and takes care of maintenance and upkeep so you can focus on innovation. For users who want to migrate the application to the cloud, the Elasticsearch Service is here to help, which can significantly offload and free up additional time resources by addressing:

  • Providing and managing infrastructure
  • Create and manage Elasticsearch clusters
  • Cluster scaling up and down
  • Updates, fixes and snapshots

3 Money savings

Subscription plans under Elastic Cloud pricing can reduce environmental maintenance costs significantly, although this percentage depends on what you pay for the current, on-premise infrastructure.

In our situation, the main reason was to switch from provisioned virtual machines that had to be set up to handle the maximum load to a scalable solution that adapts to the current workload. Since our load is relatively low for long periods, the provisioned VMs were mostly idle. Yet, we had to pay as much as if they were under 100% load.

Moreover, under the specific deployment configuration, users have access to the latest available version of Elasticsearch. There is no doubt that application updates are not only a marketing gimmick. They introduce many improvements and significant changes in terms of search or optimisation, which can significantly affect the functionality of the technology. However, it often turns out that new application versions require fewer resources, so you can choose a smaller plan and cut costs significantly.

4 Control

Migrating to the cloud allows you to increase the flexibility of the development team, which has more control over what is happening in the environment. Our on-premises infrastructure was complicated. We had difficulties monitoring particular parts of the infrastructure. In the case of our own cloud solution - a developer is a kind of black box - we do not have access to specific components like load balancers. This is fine, though - we do not want to manage it :) but are interested in the overall condition of the cluster. We need a smooth monitoring process in place, and this is what the cloud offers.

5 Elastic Cloud computing

Elastic Cloud allows customers to select which cloud provider (AWS, Azure, Google) should host the cluster. Thanks to this solution, you can opt for a weaker and cheaper configuration. Furthermore, while the system is not being used, CPU credits are collected to be used during high load times. Another attractive solution in terms of flexibility is that in the event of a sudden increase in traffic, you can have a newer, more capacious cluster configuration in just a few minutes and with a few clicks.

Elasticsearch vs. Elastic Cloud – what are the differences?

Elasticsearch is based on Lucene, an open-source search platform. It enables developers to use a distributed architecture to run these queries quickly and efficiently. The main task is to allow you to easily and quickly search, capture and analyse large amounts of data, all in almost real-time. Elasticsearch is a real-time search engine that will enable you to search documents almost immediately after adding them to your data warehouse.

One of the ways organisations use Elasticsearch is through self-management, which is the deployment and maintenance of Elasticsearch on virtual or physical machines managed by the user. There are many benefits to a self-managing Elasticsearch implementation. First of all, it is complete independence. Managing your own clusters allows the engineering team to migrate and switch different components without depending on a particular service provider. The self-managed Elasticsearch cluster also provides complete flexibility in all aspects of its configuration and management. Unfortunately, this solution generates more overhead costs as internal user teams will have to manage day-to-day operations. Plus, the migration to the higher version is more difficult.

What is Elastic Cloud? An alternative form for a self-managed service

Elastic Cloud is a service provided by The founders of the company are the lead authors of Elasticsearch. The company's goal is to offer application solutions in the form of SaaS. Elastic Cloud allows engineering teams to take advantage of the Elasticsearch features and benefits in the cloud without the need for specialised knowledge and self-updating and maintenance. It conforms to a pay-as-you-go subscription and payment model that enables teams to deploy and manage an Elasticsearch cluster in AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud.

Safety comes first

There is no doubt that safety should be a priority. However, in the case of Elasticsearch managed under its own resources, the security issue is with the user. Appropriate technical knowledge is, therefore, necessary to adequately secure the data. For infrastructure management within Elastic Cloud, data encryption, operating system hardening and other security requirements are handled by

Elastic migartion

How to migrate from Elasticsearch vs. Elastic Cloud

We've already explained the differences between Elasticsearch and Elastic Cloud and the benefits of migrating to the cloud. Still, you may be wondering how to migrate to the cloud and if it's a complicated process. If you imagine that it is time-consuming with a large team of specialists needed, we can assure you that it's quite the opposite. You will find a detailed manual on Elastic's website.

Migrating to Elastic Cloud from a business owner's perspective

It's time to finally answer the question why it's worth migrating an application to the cloud. From a business point of view, most benefits relate to staying up to speed. With Elastic Cloud, your developers will be able to maintain the solution in an optimal way and adjust it to the ever-changing needs of your company.

Elasticsearch users often complain that the entire infrastructure is difficult to maintain, manage, monitor, or expand. Thanks to Elastic Cloud, updating is limited to clicking the "Update" button.

There is nothing else to do but take advantage of the business benefits offered by Elastic Cloud, and there are many of them:

  • Fewer technicalities: The cloud-based option frees you up from the need to deal with the management of Elasticsearch deployment.
  • Better budget management: Elastic Cloud entails additional costs compared to the on-premises version. But contrary to what you may think, it protects your budget. The fee is known in advance. Cloud services enable you to reduce team and equipment investments and focus your resources on other strategic purposes and assignments. Check out this Elastic Cloud Value Calculator to estimate the value of shifting your deployment to Elastic Cloud.
  • Increased employee productivity: By opting for Elastic Cloud, your internal teams will no longer have to manage day-to-day operations. On the other hand, freeing up time streamlines communication and work organisation by optimising the workflow.
  • Risk minimisation: The use of Elasticsearch carries a data protection risk that requires considerable effort. Elastic Cloud eliminates this danger and takes over data protection. In addition, in the event of a disaster or technical problems at the user’s company, the data stored on remote servers by Elastic Cloud is protected, encrypted and always readily available to the company.

Finally, when opting for Elastic Cloud, there is also a tax advantage: By using cloud services, you generate a monthly expense for your company.


Elastic on-premise to the cloud provides its users with advanced observability, enterprise search and security solutions with the added benefit of reducing operational complexity. With real-time updates, default security best practices and maintenance supported by the makers of Elasticsearch, it gives you more time to develop, analyse and deliver business value. Elastic Cloud typically has fewer configuration steps, shorter deployment requirements and reduces application costs. Therefore, if you are looking for flexible solutions tailored to your needs, Elastic on-premise to cloud compression may be the best solution for you.

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Ewelina Zarębska, Senior .NET Developer at NoA Ignite

Ewelina Zarębska

Senior .NET Developer

Ewelina is a specialist in all types of Cloud topics, from designing architecture to the proper development of cloud applications. She connects business needs with technology, prioritization and cost optimisation. For over 10 years, she’s been advising on platform choices and combining off-the-shelf and custom solutions with costs in mind.

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