Cloud computing helps businesses quickly gain access to affordable Information Technology (IT) and infrastructure resources without large upfront investments in hardware. The cloud is becoming the standard for hosting enterprise applications as organizations expand their services and strive to satisfy growing demands from customers, while maintaining high quality and keeping costs low. Cloud computing offers a clean and efficient way to scale companies’ applications and services.
Cloud migration is the process of moving data and applications from onsite servers to the public or private cloud. In this article, we will focus on public clouds, such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. Most migration engagements are spent planning and configuring, with the migration itself not taking very long at all by comparison. This article will walk you through the process of migrating successfully to the cloud and give you a better idea of what the process looks like from start to finish.
Are Cloud Migrations Right for My Organization?
In order to decide whether or not a cloud migration is appropriate for your organization, consider its objectives and potential growth strategies. Cloud solutions allow organizations to quickly scale their applications up or down with per-minute billing and price match options. Azure and AWS allow your company’s IT infrastructure to be managed more securely while also improving performance with access to more data centers. For example, Azure specifically provides predictive analytics services your company can use to make data driven decisions and expand insights into performance. After deciding to migrate to the cloud, management should offer their organization achievable goals and clearly explain why a cloud migration can benefit the expansion of the company’s product or service. The process ultimately leads to a stage of exploration to discover the state of your current IT infrastructure.
During the discovery stage, your organization will have to examine and catalog its software and workloads. The process of discovering the relationships and identities of the workloads in your IT infrastructure often takes more time than expected, because company applications are often unlisted in inventories and therefore unexamined. If applications are not cataloged, they can return in later stages of the migration process and disrupt the overall transfer to the cloud. The discovery process consists of not only identifying the location of all software and workloads handled by your company’s applications, but also the relationships between them to guarantee a complete understanding of how information is passed and processed to your users.
The time to complete the discovery process varies depending on the size of your current IT infrastructure, the age of your software, and your current workflow. The entire process of portfolio discovery and planning is supported with tools by Microsoft and AWS. The Microsoft Virtual Machine Readiness tool, Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) toolkit, and AWS Discovery Service are all used to form a complete understanding of what the environment looks like and how it behaves. The complexity of your architecture will determine which migration tactic will work best.
To determine the cloud destinations for your workloads, consider various factors from your organizations’ list of objectives: speed, ease of migration, cost, and desired functionality. Choose the data center that allows for speed, elasticity of the storage, high processing power and memory. By optimizing these factors, applications will be responsive even during times of peak demand. Also consider whether Azure or AWS supports your workloads’ operating systems. In the process, you may have to convert physical servers into virtual machines running on your cloud. This process is not always clear, and can be sped up with partners with industry experience. After deciding the right cloud destinations for the workloads found during the discovery stage, migration strategies are chosen that meet your organizations needs and adapt to your current IT infrastructure.
- Rehosting — Otherwise known as “lift-and-shift.”
- Replatforming — “lift-tinker-and-shift.”
- Repurchasing — Moving to a different product.
- Refactoring — Re-imagining how the application is architected and developed, typically using cloud-native features.
- Retire — Get rid of.
- Retain — Usually this means “revisit” or do nothing (for now).
Adapting to the Cloud
A common approach taken for migrating is to move from low complexity applications to high complexity applications by building incrementally. As your organization becomes more comfortable with the cloud, more complex applications can be constructed according to cloud solutions guidelines. The transition to the cloud can also require a change in your workload management structure within your organization and may require you to consider new ways of solving problems between developers and operations teams. DevOps is a process similar to agile project management that can allow for broader transparency within your organization and increase collaboration between previously separated teams while migration is occurring. By adopting a new operating model, you can iterate towards a better product offering and allow for faster development within your organization in conjunction with your new cloud architecture. This shows how cloud migration can provide significant benefits not just on a technical level, but also on an operations level.
This entire process from start to finish, requires significant changes and change management with how your organizations’ teams interact, process, and share their data amongst each other. In addition, outdated IT infrastructure which works locally can be expanded and can provide possible data insights via the cloud. However, if relationships are not noted and analyzed early in the process, roadblocks can occur later. To minimize the potential for roadblocks, it is wise to consider leveraging a consulting services partner, who can offer their expertise by organizing and modernizing your architecture to be compatible with Azure or AWS.
For example, by working with a cloud consulting partner like Sysgain, organizations can focus on delivering better services for their fast-growing consumer market. In addition, their migration and redeveloped operating model is overseen and developed by a team with expertise in that specific area.