John Guido | December 8, 2021
Cloud migration is the process of moving applications and data from a local source to a public cloud provider. Migrating to the cloud is deceptively complex – it isn’t as easy as ‘copy and paste’ or uploading your files, and can take a lot of resources to get right. Besides creating a scalable, robust and secure architecture in the public cloud environment, there is the matter of optimizing and controlling costs so that you don’t end up with sticker shock. Thankfully there are companies who specialize in performing efficient, low-risk cloud migrations designed to limit downtime and minimize the time and resources required from you and your team.
There are a lot of decisions to be made and lists to check and double check, but there is a general procedure to follow which covers most situations, and addresses any transitional challenges. The more prepared you are when working with a migration partner, the better and more efficient the migration process will be.
How The Migration Works
It’s easy to get caught up with features and what the service provides along with the costs involved; after all, major cloud providers each have hundreds of services to choose from. While it is important to have a general sense of what services you would like to use, the migration partner can help you decide what services are appropriate for each of your workloads, and steps for how to reach that goal. Public cloud migrations allow for significant opportunities to transform your IT environment either as part of the migration or in a later stage.
Migration usually involves an analysis of your existing infrastructure in order to optimize your future cloud environment. Whatever platforms you are moving to and from, you need to begin with a strategy before embarking into the cloud space. We’ve broken down the migration process into three stages for simplicity:
Stage 1: Analysis of the current infrastructure and clarifying what is required, the purpose of the migration, and the goal of the migration to determine the best course of action. There are many benefits to a cloud migration, and understanding which ones are most important to you will drive the migration and architecture process.
Stage 2: Project scope and risk analysis. Once requirements are established, a bespoke solution can be created, taking into account any specific compliance and security requirements that you might have. This will include all needs outlined from the analysis stage, and the scope of the project will be the framework to spot any gaps or blank spots in the migration process.
Once the project is properly scoped, application dependencies are understood, and a migration plan is in place, the real work can begin.
Stage 3: Migration of workloads commences. For most organizations, migrations will take place in batches, during regularly established outage windows. Frequently, the work begins with non-critical applications in early migration groups, and critical applications towards the end of the project to minimize downtown. Systems that have dependencies on each other are moved at the same time.
Stage 4: Day 2 Operations. If you opt to use a cloud Managed Service Provider (MSP), the provider will focus on maintaining the service, and monitoring the progress of the solution after the migration. Support should be available 24/7 and improvements and overall efficiency optimizations will continue after the migration to provide the best service possible. If you will maintain support in-house, make sure that you have a plan in place to up-skill all of your staff to be successful in a cloud environment.
What You Want The Cloud To Do
The first thing a service provider will ask you is “why.” While most every organization will benefit from having at least a portion of your workloads in the public cloud, you have to consider the pros and cons for you and your business for each application. Being well informed on what the cloud can do for you will help you answer that question, rather than jumping on blindly.
We recently spoke with Andrew Vierling, VP of Cloud Consulting Professional Services at Connectria, to get his insight on what you should be looking for when researching a partner to help you migrate to the cloud. On vetting companies, he said:
“Be wary of a ‘free assessment,’ as you begin your cloud journey; you get what you pay for and since these are generally subsidized by one of the cloud providers, they’ll get to see your assessment report first and make recommendations based on their own solutions. This isn’t always a bad thing – just make sure you know what you’ll be receiving.”
“Also be on the lookout for the migration partner’s credentials, such as a migration specialty or competency with the chosen public cloud provider, which shows their level of qualification and eligibility to access funding programs that can minimize the cost of the migration.”
Vierling also mentioned the success Connectria has seen from partnering with other solution providers to deliver end users with the right cloud migration services – sometimes starting as business development engagements that lead to fully qualified customer projects. He pointed out that Connectria has successfully partnered with other firms to deliver over 3,000 migrations on behalf of their clients and can be actively involved in the pre-sales process.
VP of Cloud Strategy from Ascend Technologies, Corey Dean, similarly advises customers to be heedful when choosing a partner to begin their cloud migration, saying:
“Avoid choosing a partner that has all the answers. The array of services is so vast at this point, you don’t want to be in a situation where they’re trying to figure it out on the fly. Instead, find a provider who is either willing to work with you long term to achieve your goals, or who can direct you towards another provider who can produce your desired results. In the end, there’s enough room in the cloud for everyone.”
Following these tips and asking potential partners the right questions will ensure you find a company with your best interest in mind and the skills and qualifications to achieve your migration goals.
The top cloud providers, for example AWS, Google Cloud and Azure, offer at a basic level four different service deployment models: These models are IaaS (infrastructure), PaaS (platform), SaaS (software), and FaaS (functions or “server-less), and they all present different benefits and levels of management control. They each also implement different resource handling, and flexibility that might be restricted in certain areas that could be crucial to your business.
Though you could simply migrate all of your existing virtual machines to the cloud without leveraging any other services, you will be missing out on a lot of the benefits that the major providers have to offer such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and reduced system administration requirements.
Data Storage And Protection
It’s important to notify the cloud service provider about security protocols and policies on sensitive data. They should be your champions for ensuring none of these are broken, and for making data protection a #1 priority. If your business requires you to follow PCI, HIPAA, GDPR or other regulatory requirements, this will need to be accounted for as part of the migration. It is also a good idea to choose a migration partner who has expertise in this area.
Stage two and the risk assessment section mentioned earlier touched on this. Data loss or compromization is a huge factor, and new policies will be in place when migration happens – however, the current ones have to be respected especially if there are compliance issues. Ask questions and be transparent about your security requirements, and cloud providers will understand and be able to act accordingly.
The 6 R’s Of Cloud Migration
This isn’t just fun alliteration, the R’s are a very practical list to follow and easy to remember to understand all of the potential paths for a given workload:
This is a simple step and involves assessing what will be redundant. These could be applications or services currently in place, removing some of these could be a cost saving step too since cloud services implement many features themselves.
This should be done in conjunction with the retirement step. “Retain” entails deciding on what platforms or data to keep, as some legacy applications might be key to business operations and not be supported otherwise by cloud solutions. The application might be working well or fairly new, in which case keeping it retains its benefits.
The aim here is to rehost original/legacy applications on the cloud environment. There are tools available to make this a simple process, but there is a downside to consider. Legacy applications can’t take full advantage of the cloud space’s power, but sometimes specific business applications have to be rehosted that are critical to operations.
This method tries moving everything as-is. It’s a complete shift from local to cloud based computing, keeping everything in tact. Infrastructure is switched over to managed services and occasionally some software switched to open source to help manage licensing costs.
This involves looking at current applications in place and replacing them with the cloud platform’s compatible alternative version. This is a change in license too, which could be required depending upon the application. This can save a lot of time and effort as you essentially don’t move anything and transition to a new service agreement.
This is a full overhaul. Re-architecting completely changes an application to adapt it more to the cloud and often adds enhanced functionality. It’s a good choice if you need the native cloud features, and it might involve breaking up an existing solution into smaller micro services for more manageability.
Scalability & The Benefits of the Cloud
Scaling works differently when migrating to the cloud. You don’t need to purchase equipment anymore, and you only have to pay for what you use. When you begin the migration process, it’s important to estimate your usage so that you are ready for initial fees. Over 70% of customers experience higher than expected bills if they have not properly modeled the costs beforehand.
On additional benefits, Andrew Vierling also mentioned, “the cost savings, capital expenditure opportunities, infrastructure security, compliance (PCI and HIPAA), and the agility and flexibility in solutions and future updates that the cloud provides makes this move a no-brainer. Five years ago, the public cloud was on everyone’s radar but it wasn’t part of their future strategy. Since then, it has become a critical solution for many businesses. CIO’s and those alike are starting to more seriously consider a migration, but can be hesitant because of workload or licensing limitations.
Something to be aware of is that the recommended solution is often a hybrid approach (public cloud + legacy infrastructure) and less common may include a multi-cloud approach to meet whatever needs your business has.”
To reiterate, Corey Dean also noted, “the cloud is a lot more reliable than the physical infrastructure, and can provide many more benefits than most people assume.”
Also, part of the reason you are migrating will be to take advantage of the cost effective scaling. Scaling is now very adaptable with AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure because they offer calculated usage by the minute, meaning you can easily “burst” your capacity to address real time peaks in utilization. While other providers offer similar plans such as time frames where your usage is lower, (for example 9pm – 7am), this is still a considerable amount of time per month, so a flat fee generally doesn’t make sense. Having flexibility with your usage allows you to take your business to the next level while saving costs.
Dean, shedding light on the possibility of a shift toward increased cloud migration due to the effects of COVID-19, noted, “Companies are evaluating their needs for physical locations as leases start to expire and are determining if they want to reduce their physical footprint or even eliminate it. These next 12-18 months are crucial for companies to understand how cloud migration works as they make these decisions and strategize future plans.”
P2P Global helps you connect with the perfect service for your needs. There is everything from cloud computing and security to application development or data analysis. Our platform is a place to connect with other professionals and businesses for whatever cloud migration or technical support you require. Get in touch and let us get you on board, so you can find the best provider for your next project!