Conquering the Challenges of Cloud Migration
By doing your homework and getting the right help, you can wind up with a fast, cost-effective, and reliable cloud implementation.
If you haven't already, you're going to move something to the cloud at some point in the future. Even if you are not sure that a cloud service is right for you, you still need to investigate the cloud migration process to be able to make an informed decision -- even if you ultimately decide not to go that route. If you are not an expert in cloud migration -- I assume most of you are not -- there are services that can help you be successful.
Once you decide to migrate some functions to the cloud, you will discover that this is only the beginning. Likely, more functions will be moved spanning years of IT and UC operation. Along this journey, many challenges will surface. Among the most common difficulties is the task of properly maintaining existing application services during the migration. Other challenges will be not disrupting the user experience or weakening the security you already have.What the Customer Wants
Migration decisions are often based on business and budget considerations, but the actual move to the cloud involves many technical processes. It's a good idea to know what you want ahead of making the move so that you know what to look for when seeking migration help:
- Fast Implementation -- There are many methods available for migrating existing workloads between dissimilar platforms. These methods can be time-consuming, often requiring in-house or consulting personnel to rebuild servers from scratch (i.e. a server upgrade or new data center). You want to easily move workloads and migrate between dissimilar physical, virtual, and cloud platforms. What you want is a clone of what you have in the cloud including applications, network, and storage configurations.
- Reliable Implementation -- You do not want any risk in the migration. You don't want errors. You want the ability to scale both horizontally and vertically while remaining in control. At best, the user will not experience any differences.
- Cost-Effective Implementation --You want a streamlined process for the migration that avoids server rebuilds. Don't select a migration support organization that limits your choice of cloud services. Look at the budget for a cost per server migration fee and then decide how much to move to the cloud. You want the cloud budget and migration costs to be less than what is now paid.
For more perspective on the cloud migration process, I interviewed Lawrence Guillory, CEO at cloud migration solution provider Racemi. Lawrence is focused on Racemi's single focus: to make migration to the cloud easy while offering a seamless experience for customers.
What do you see as the biggest challenge to cloud migration?
The biggest challenge is the lack of skilled cloud engineers and cloud migration experts to ensure a successful migration of production applications.
What are the physical challenges?
When moving to the cloud, assuming public, there are really only a few physical challenges: network bandwidth, latency, and limitations of [the] application owner's involvement in the cloud migration.
What are the virtual challenges?
Again assuming public cloud, the virtual challenges are in setting up the target environment, limits on supported operating systems, and database platforms. These are the areas that impact the project the most.
How should security issues be addressed?
Security should be addressed from the application first, and a security strategy should be built outwards from the application.
Compare IaaS and PaaS.
PaaS is for building apps from the readily available software platforms hosted in the cloud, and IaaS is for full control. PaaS will have a limited market compared to SaaS and IaaS.
What happens to the user experience during migration?
In a good migration, the user never knows anything happened. It is all done behind the scenes. However, when enterprises try things alone without any support from experts, you will have failures that impact the user.
How are business continuity plans and operations changed?
I believe business continuity plans are the most overlooked area in the cloud. Too often the market assumes the cloud provider's disaster recovery plan is sufficient for theirs too, and I believe that is a mistake. Operations change in every aspect. Everything changes -- from the people, to compliance, to processes; everything in operations changes. That is why enterprises need experts to help them get to a steady state quickly.
Should the enterprise, VAR, or MSP perform the migration?
It depends. Five, 10, 25 servers -- sure. I encourage it. I think it is a great learning experience. But when moving production applications and shutting down data centers, I think in every case they need an expert to lead the way. It is the same as performing a major surgery, are you going to hire an expert or do it yourself?
Are there any issues after migration that can surface?
Assuming a well-executed migration, there should be no issues. Problems arise when a solid quality assurance plan is not executed. The biggest surprise some companies have is their costs for operating the cloud. Because of this, we now provide detailed cost analysis pre- and post-migration to validate that both performance and cost expectations are met once in the cloud.Automation is the Key
An automated server migration solution produces the fast, reliable, and cost-effective moves between dissimilar physical, virtual, and cloud infrastructure. Whether you are migrating to public or private cloud, consolidating data centers or provisioning new hardware, the customer wants a simplified migration process. Automation reduces the labor, avoids errors, and provides reports on the progress and success of the migration.