Cloud adoption by UK companies is nearing 90%, according to Cloud Industry Forum. It won’t be long before all organisations are benefiting to some degree from the flexibility, efficiency and cost-savings of the cloud.
Moving past the first wave of adoption, we’re seeing businesses ramp up the complexity of the workloads and applications that they’re migrating to the cloud. Perhaps this is the reason why the proportion of companies that have reported difficulties with their cloud migration projects is also 90%. This is frustrating for IT teams when they’re deploying cloud solutions that are supposed to be reducing their burden and making life simpler.
Performing a pain-free migration to the cloud is achievable but preparation is crucial to project success. Progressing through the following key stages offers a better chance of running a smooth migration with minimum disruption.
Set your goals at the outset
Every organisation has different priorities when it comes to the cloud, and there’s no “one cloud fits all” solution. Selecting the best options for your organisation means first understanding what you want to move, how you’ll get it to the cloud and how you’ll manage it once it’s there. You also need to identify how or even if migrating core data systems to the cloud will impact on your security and compliance programmes and many companies are actually creating hybrid cloud solutions where data is kept locally. Having a clear handle on these goals at the outset will enable you to properly scope your project.
Before you begin – assess your on-premises
Preparing for cloud migration is a valuable opportunity to take stock of your on-premises data and applications, and rank them in terms of business-criticality. This helps inform both the structure you’ll want in your cloud environment and also the order in which to migrate applications.
Ask the hard questions: does this application really need to move to the cloud or can it be decommissioned? In a cloud environment where you pay for the resources you use it doesn’t make economic sense to migrate legacy applications that no longer serve their purpose.
Once you have a full inventory of your environment and its workloads, you need to flag up those specific networking requirements This ranked inventory can then be used to calculate the required cloud resources and associated costs. Importantly, this process can also be used to classify and prioritize workloads which is invaluable in driving costs down in, for example, cloud-based disaster recovery scenarios where different workloads can be allocated different levels of protection.
Establish tech support during and post-migration
Many organisations take their first steps into the cloud when looking for disaster recovery solutions. The ability to replicate data continuously to a secondary location with virtually no downtime or lost data is attractive. In the event that an organisation’s cloud migration strategy is about absolutely replicating the on premises environment in the cloud this is fundamentally the same as a cloud migration, except that it is planned at a convenient time, rather than prompted by an extreme event. This means that once the switch is flipped, the migration should be as smooth as a DR event. However, most organisations will want to know that there is an expert on hand should anything go wrong, so 24/7 support should be factored into the equation.
Boost what you already have
Look at your on-premises environment and work out how to create synergies with the cloud. For example, VMware-users will find there’s much to be said for choosing a VMware-based cloud environment. This already has the same tools and templates that they are familiar with. It makes for a smoother transition for workloads and templates. It’s also an opportunity to refresh the VM environment and build out a new, clean system in the cloud. This doesn’t mean you can’t transition to a cloud that differs from your on-premises environment, but it’s a factor worth taking into consideration.
Migration of physical workloads
Of the 90% of businesses that reported difficulty migrating to the cloud, complexity was the most commonly cited issue, and you can bet that shifting physical systems is at the root of much of that. They are often the last vestiges of legacy IT strategies and remain because they underpin business operations. You need to determine if there is a benefit to moving them to the cloud and if so consider the options of virtualising the ones that can be virtualised – possibly using software options. .
Determine the information transfer approach
The cost of transferring information to the cloud depend on the size of the dataset. In the age of virtualisation and of relatively large network pipes, seeding can often be viewed as a costly, inefficient and error prone process. However, if datasets are sufficiently large, seeding may be the best option. Service providers can provide encrypted drives to help manually import data into the cloud.
A more innovative approach sees seeding used to jumpstart the migration process. By seeding the cloud data centre with a point in time of your environment, you then use your standard network connection with the cloud to sync any changes before cut-over. This minimises downtime and represents the best of both worlds.
However, make sure you check your APIs to ensure that data doesn’t need to be retained on premises for regulatory purposes.
Check network connectivity
Your network pipe will be seeing a lot more traffic. While most organisations will find they have adequate bandwidth, it’s best to check ahead that your bandwidth will be sufficient. If your mission-critical applications demand live-streaming with zero latency you may wish to investigate direct connectivity to the cloud via something such as Microsoft ExpressRoute which uses VPN service layers for security.
Consider post-migration management and support as part of the buying decision
Once the migration project is complete, the final step is how to manage it. The tools may be different from the those used to manage on-premises applications. The power and usability of management tools should be part of the selection criteria. Make sure that operations teams have ongoing visibility and the capability to monitor security, costs and performance. Furthermore, support is a crucial part of your ongoing relationship with your cloud service provider. Select an option that gives you the support you need, when you need it, at the right price.
As more and more businesses take the plunge and move mission-critical systems to the cloud, the skills and experience of in-house teams increase and the ability to handle complex migrations will rise in tandem. Until then, IT teams charged with migration projects shouldn’t be afraid to wring as much support and advice out of cloud service providers as possible so that they can achieve a pain-free migration and start reaping the benefits of the cloud.
iland is a global cloud service provider of secure and compliant hosting for infrastructure (IaaS), disaster recovery (DRaaS), and backup as a service (BaaS). They are recognised by industry analysts as a leader in disaster recovery.
The award-winning iland Secure Cloud Console natively combines deep layered security, predictive analytics and compliance to deliver unmatched visibility and ease of management for all of iland’s cloud services. Headquartered in Houston, Texas and London, UK, iland delivers cloud services from its data centres throughout the Americas, Europe, Australia and Asia. Learn more at iland.com.