Many organizations are on the cusp of moving their legacy systems to the cloud. According to LogicMonitor’s Cloud Vision 2020: The Future of the Cloud Study, at least 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. Companies are attracted to the agility and cost savings that cloud brings to their businesses, with most of them procuring cloud services from two or more vendors. This year alone, global public cloud spending has topped $200 billion.
The successful road to cloud migration entails much more than simply running an application or service from the cloud. There are many considerations involved and preparing your organization to utilize the cloud effectively is paramount.
The following five-point plan can help you determine the best strategy for your organization.
Who will be responsible for performing migration activities? Who is involved in the migration process? One of the biggest challenges for organizations is not having enough people with cloud experience. There is a different subset of skills needed to support cloud computing as compared to on-premises software—where does your organization stand in its preparedness for the cloud? Decide if you’re bridging that gap by retooling existing employees or hiring new talent.
Based on current trends, the following skills are in high demand and in line with how the cloud is evolving
- Cloud security: CCSP (Certified Cloud Security Professional) certifications are popular. It equips the professional with knowledge and skills in cloud security design, implementation, architecture, operations, controls, and compliance with regulatory frameworks. Cloud providers and enterprises need this.
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence: The need for data aggregation, integration, and analysis, and more scalable cloud platforms are the main contributing factors to the demand for this skill.
- Serverless architecture: The ability to roadmap and design an enterprise’s serverless journey is a critical skill needed now. Serverless computing makes applications easier to scale up and apply patches as well.
- Cloud migration and deployment with multi-cloud environments: Cloud migration has its set of risks and is a complex process. Poorly engineered processes could lead to outages and data vulnerability.
Once you have knowledgeable cloud resources, it’s time to take a closer look at your application portfolio. Understand your current and future environments. Identify the necessary integration points between cloud and on-premise. What are the functionalities required to be fulfilled by the applications once they are enabled on the cloud? Assess each application’s specific business benefits, key performance metrics, and target return on investment. Are these applications even compatible for migration to the cloud?
Determining security, performance, regulated, and mandatory requirements will help guide your decision-making. Some of the applications have specific requirements that may not allow hosting on public cloud or multi-tenant environments. Many regulated industries have strict guidelines regarding where data can be housed and managed, so familiarize yourself with them. Existing service levels must be understood, and architectural analysis performed to determine acceptability within a cloud architecture.
The data analysis not only confirms the feasibility of the app migration but also helps determine the migration and location of the data.
3. Planning: Methodology and Testing
Different migration strategy focuses on different tasks, fits special migration scenarios and possesses characteristic virtues. Contemplate the following points as you draft your plan of execution.
a. Determine the appropriate methodology for migrating the application or service.
i. Rehosting – often called lift and shift.
ii. Re-platforming – lift and shift with some modifications
iii. Repurchasing – moving to a different product
iv. Refactoring – re-architecting to a more cloud-native platform
b. Establish pre-live planning.
i. Do you want your application to run in a single cloud or multiple cloud environment?
ii. Do you want to split an application across multiple cloud providers, or work it out that it’s one application in one cloud and the other in another?
iii. What are your goals for each asset you want to migrate?
c. Set baselines based on the performance and function of your application pre-migration so that you can measure and validate its future performance. These baselines can also help you diagnose any issues that may arise.
d. Establish operational plans and procedures.
4. Execution – Moving to production
There are multiple ways to execute your migration.
a. Do it all at once or big bang approach: Move the entire application or service to the cloud and test first before moving your customers.
b. Incremental migration: This is done iteratively in phases and will enable continuous improvement as you go.
5. Post Execution – monitoring and maintenance
Upon completion of any migration activity, it is necessary to monitor it for performance and security. Testing is an ongoing process if you want to ensure optimum user experience.
a. Ensure there is a system in place to validate proper functional and operational components and data.
b. Determine metrics baselines for service levels and performance. Regular monitoring can alert you to any breaks in service levels so you can adjust accordingly.
Cloud by itself is not the answer. It is merely another platform or tool to accomplish your enterprise goals. A smooth migration comprises but is not restricted to education, analysis, planning (methodology and testing), execution and monitoring and maintenance. Each phase has its myriad considerations and complexities, and many organizations have made the smart move and sought the help of external cloud service providers and consultants.
Not having to go it alone takes the pressure off and enables you to focus on the business. Leave it to the experts with the knowledge and skillset to align the right cloud solutions to your business goals and develop the most cohesive migration strategy that works best for the current and future state of your enterprise.
Our guest blogger is Michael Everly, a senior IT leader with a successful 28-year track record in driving ROI, transforming IT departments, and reducing costs in a wide range of industries including distribution, education, and retail. Michael has held several senior management roles including CIO at D&H Distributing, a $4 billion technology wholesale distribution company, where he elevated IT to become a trusted business partner and a catalyst for growth. He is currently CIO at Renfro Corporation.
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