The business case has been made and you've appointed your project resources for cloud migration. It's now time to scope and plan your migration. Moving your Enterprise IT workloads to the public cloud is a big decision and immediately alters the way you operate your business. It has to be approached strategically and shouldn't be taken lightly. There are many benefits to cloud IT, but you must carefully deliberate and plan. The wrong decision is going to cost you in more ways than you care to calculate.
Many thoughts must have cluttered your mind such as, which of the cloud service providers best meet your needs? How would you calculate the cost of cloud migration and operation? How can you ensure service continuity during and after the move? What kind of security measures should you take and what do you need to prepare for? How can you ascertain regulatory compliance? There are many more questions that you should answer prior to migrating to the cloud.
In this article, we will discuss a few of the most pressing issues to consider when planning the move.
Private, public or hybrid?
One of the first things to decide when migrating to cloud is whether you will go private, public or hybrid.
On a private cloud, you will have a dedicated infrastructure for your business, managed either by your teams or third-party providers. Your organization will have its own dedicated hardware, running on your private network, and located on or off locations.
A public cloud provides its services over a network that is not your private one and it is available for others to use. Usually it is off-site and provides a pay-per-usage billing model that could result in a cheaper solution, once it efficiently shares resources over the various customers.
Hybrid cloud combines your private or traditional information technology (IT) with a public cloud. Usually it is used to scale up and down your infrastructure systems to meet demand needs for seasonal businesses, spikes or financial closings, or to handle the application apart from the data storage, such as setting up the application layer in a public environment (for example a software as a service) while storing sensitive information in a private one.
Current infrastructure utilization
This is definitely one of the things you want to evaluate when considering a move to cloud. In traditional IT, businesses usually purchase their hardware based on utilization spikes in order to avoid issues when these scenarios occur. By doing that, organizations may end up with underutilized equipment, which could result in a huge waste of money. Taking a look at your performance and capacity reports can help you address these workloads on cloud and decide whether to release unused capacity for other workloads or simply move them over and avoid new investments.
Cloud Workload Analysis
Out of your IT workloads running in your datacenter, some may not be appropriate for migrating to the cloud. It isn't always easy to generalize the criteria for selecting the right applications for migration, but you need to consider all aspects of the execution environment. Given the service parameters promised by the provider, can you achieve the same level of capacity, performance, utilization, security, and availability? Can you do better? Can you afford less?
Your future growth must be factored into the decision. Can the cloud infrastructure scale as your resource consumption grows? Will your application be compliant with regulatory rules when hosted in the public cloud? How does the cloud infrastructure address compliance, if at all?
In order to make the right decision, you should thoroughly understand your current workloads and determine how closely their requirements, both for present and future evolution, can be satisfied.
Application Migration approaches
There are multiple degrees of changes you may want to do to your application depending on your short term and long term business / technical goals.
Virtualization – This model facilitates a quick and easy migration to cloud as no changes will be required to the application. Ideal candidate for legacy applications.
Application Migration – In this case your application will go through minimal architecture and design changes in order to make it optimal for a cloud model of deployment. For example, you may choose to use a No SQL database available on cloud.
Application Refactoring – This model will require a major overhaul of your application right from the architecture. This is typically done when you want to leverage the latest technology stack.
Backup policies and disaster recovery
How are your backup policies running today? Do they fit with your cloud provider? This is also an important point that organizations have to carefully consider. Cloud providers can have standard backup policies with some level of customization. It is worth it to have a look at those and see if they are suitable for your company before they become a potential roadblock. You'll want to pay attention to retention frequency, backup type (such as full, incremental and so on) and versioning.
Disaster recovery and business continuity are important even for the smallest companies. Recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) are important values that define how much data you are willing to lose and what amount of time you are willing to allow for the data to be restored.
Is the application licensed per VM, per core, or for total infrastructure footprint? This can have massive cost implications. If the licensing model requires that all available resources be taken into account even if not allocated to the client, licensing costs will increase if migrated to a public-cloud platform. Similarly, if the application licensing is based per per core and the cloud provider does not offer the ability to configure your cloud environment per core, this will have an adverse impact on your licensing cost.
Organizations often discover application dependencies too late in the process of migrating workloads, resulting in unplanned outages and limited functionality to systems while these dependencies are addressed. Understanding the relationships between applications is critical to planning the sequence and manner in which cloud migrations occur. Can the application exist on the cloud in isolation while other systems are migrated?
Compatible operational system
Clouds are all about standards, and you need to keep versions of your operating systems and middleware up to date when you aim to migrate them to a cloud provider. You need to take into consideration that cloud service providers (CSPs) do not support end-of-life operating systems or those that are being phased out. The same likely applies to your middleware and databases.
Hopefully this post will help you make decisions about your cloud migration.