Cloud – planning and migration in simple steps
We have observed the rapid development of the cloud in the pandemic year of 2020, due to the growing demand for independence from traditional infrastructure and securing the operational continuity of an organization. But is it the right time to migrate to the cloud? To answer that question, we listed all advantages and concerns related to the topic. Afterwards, we broke down the entire process into smaller parts, so that you can make sure your organization is ready for the change.
1. Concerns regarding Cloud Migration
Loss of data control
Companies are often concerned about migrating business systems, applications and data to cloud environment for the sake of fear of losing control over them. There is a belief that, in the case of an environment based on in-house servers, the company has full control over data location, security and availability of resources. Moving your data to cloud does not mean you loose your data – it’s even more. You have control over it and can access it anytime from anywhere.
Issues with possible vendor lock-in
There is always a risk of a supplier going out of business or changing the terms of service in our region. In the mind of every IT manager, there are difficulties (organisational, personnal, technological, etc.) and costs related to a possible transfer to a new supplier. Such a change can be even more costly than the original on-premise cloud migration.
Problem with choosing the type of service and migration model
Before starting the project, there are many things to consider. Should one opt for a public or private cloud? Or maybe it is better to use an environment based on hybrid solutions? The latter, i.e. the combination of public and private clouds, has become increasingly popular recently. They make it possible to store some data locally on the server, and some in the cloud. Before migration, you should also consider the model of transferring the application or the entire infrastructure to the cloud.
Costs of migrating to the cloud and maintaining the environment
How much do you have to invest and after what time will the investment pay off? Can the already existing applications in the company be transferred to the cloud environment and will such an application work without interruption? It is difficult to answer these questions on your own without previous experience with cloud services. Here, too, a supplier who has carried out many implementations, will be able to offer a cost estimate and facilitate the decision-making process.
2. Real benefits
In the cloud, you can store all the databases, programs and applications that you use every day in your organisation. How much you pay depends entirely on you and the needs of your company. The cloud is fully scalable, so you only use the server space you need, and thus pay only for the resources used. Additionally, when you decide to migrate to the cloud, you do not have to be concerned about purchasing and maintaining the infrastructure, servers, hardware, updates, and software. For some workloads cloud is definitely a much more cost efficient option.
The cloud model allows users to work anywhere, anytime. All you need is Internet access so that each employee can check changes, operations and processes in the organization on an ongoing basis. Entrepreneurs gain full control, flexibility and convenience of work.
Cloud-based solutions guarantee great scalability, enormous performance and a huge data storage container. The cloud offers users scalability that is combined with the ability to allocate resources with flexibility, when there is an increased demand for them. In the case of the standard model – desktop servers – it is not possible to cope with the sharp increases in demand.
With cloud computing, you can enjoy virtually unlimited performance which, until now, has not been available to you. Even the most complex workstations are not able to provide your company with comparable resources.
The data stored in the cloud is safer. Cloud solutions not only protect information from falling into the wrong hands but also provide a lot of opportunities to limit access to it. An additional advantage is the fact that in the event of a possible deletion of data, it can be easily restored. Likewise, if a computer that contains key data is stolen, it can be remotely wiped. Backups are performed automatically, which means you do not have to remember about it, as in the case of the traditional model.
Companies that offer cloud services usually have an additional department that not only watches over your security, but also tackles the threats. Very often, such companies also offer access to the help desk department and support of specialists even 24 hours a day, which is extremely important, especially for small companies, which can very rarely afford additional employment of IT specialists who will constantly watch over cloud security.
3. How to make sure migration will be a success?
Know your motivation
The most important issue that needs to be addressed in the first place is to establish motivation. By answering the question of why we are considering a step into the clouds, we will be able to narrow down all migration options. Do we simply want to solve a pressing business problem quickly? If so, maybe the best solution would be to look at ready-made applications offered within the subscription model (SaaS)?
This increasingly common licensing model allows not only to significantly reduce the time and costs of implementation but also to ensure appropriate service conditions, under the SLA provided. As a subscription, we can now purchase not only basic office software but also CRM, ERP systems and dedicated industry solutions.
Another popular reason to consider migrating to the cloud is to increase the reliability, availability, or scalability of your existing systems. This is of particular importance today, as it turns out that many of the existing environments are unprepared for new usage, such as a significantly increased number of remote workers requiring interaction with the central system.
Reduction of costs on hardware and software solutions can also act as a great argument for starting a migration. A well-used cloud can reduce expenses. However, you should be aware of the specific nature of cloud service price lists, which for many novice users may turn out to be a significant entry barrier.
Find and evaluate existing applications, databases, and infrastructures. Gain insight into dependencies with automated cloud migration tools and take an inventory of infrastructure, and assess local environments.
Calculate the Total Cost of Ownership to get the business case for migration. Assess the potential cost savings of migrating to the cloud by calculating and comparing the Total Cost of Ownership with the cost of a comparable on-premises deployment.
Find a trusted partner
Migration to the cloud (especially in the first stage) is not easy and it is often necessary to cooperate with a qualified, experienced partner. A partner is a company that operates on behalf of a cloud service provider, such as Amazon Web Services or Azure.
The partner knows the mechanisms of migration, knows the solution to which the migration will be carried out, is able to plan the process, carry it out, and is aware of potential threats. It prepares the organization for introducing changes not only in terms of technology but also helps to revise processes or adjust the budget to a new solution. Additionally, it supports the organisation in the subsequent operation of the infrastructure and solving possible problems. If you are wondering how to choose the best IT partner to conduct your migration to cloud – feel free to use our ready-made RFI template.
Choose the approach that fits your business conditions and needs
The lift-and-shift is a migration strategy that relies on moving data and applications from a physical location to cloud-based virtual machines. This is a popular approach, largely because of its relative speed and smoothness. In most cases, workloads are transferred to the IaaS cloud unchanged. Thus, the IT operations management tools previously used in the data centre are implemented in a largely unmodified cloud environment. Native cloud functionalities are not used to a large extent or at all.
The lift-and-shift approach enables the fastest migration of solutions to the cloud and is a good solution for disaster recovery operations. It allows you to forget about problems with managing your own server room or damage to e.g. disks in the server.
Re-platform, also known as lift, tinker, and shift – is a strategy that also does not allow any changes to the basic information architecture. However, contrary to the “lift and shift” strategy, we have one additional element here – “tinker”, which translates to the possibility of making small optimizations in order to achieve measurable benefits.
The indubitable advantage of this strategy is the minimisation of the costs and the level of customer involvement. Most often (but not always), it is regarded as an ad hoc solution aimed at bringing a quick, noticeable benefit and is used when the most important factor determining the migration method is time. It is the so-called “golden mean” between “re-host” and “re-factor” solutions.
Re-factor is usually the most expensive, but also, if the products are well adapted to the market, the most beneficial migration strategy. It is often the first choice for enterprises with high business needs in the area of adding new functions, scaling the platform or increasing its performance.
This approach consists of rethinking the application architecture and designing it completely from scratch, e.g. by migrating from a monolithic architecture to a server-less architecture. Of course, it does not come cheap, thus it requires considerable financial resources and active customer involvement, and its main goal is to significantly improve the efficiency and continuity of the application.
Create a migration schedule
The next step is to develop a schedule. The aforementioned analysis of each element, dependencies in the system, processes and possible indication of areas for refactoring or changes allow you to prioritize and assess the time needed to carry out the migration. This will translate into setting a deadline and a budget.
Preparation of the schedule is also important from the point of view of the stability and availability of the system. It is necessary to target the areas with the lowest criticality level, which have the least dependencies and are relatively easy to migrate. Areas such as test or development environments should be migrated first, especially when running.
Switch over production
The most anticipated moment is when we launch the production version. However, you should plan in advance how users will be switched to the production version, and we can do it in two ways:
- Do it all at once
The production version is made available to all users after moving the entire application to the cloud and conducting internal tests.
- Do it a little bit at a time
Users are transferred to the migrated and internally tested application gradually; only after identifying and repairing any errors, subsequent clients are transferred until the users are fully migrated.
Migrating to the cloud may allow you to increase the flexibility of applications, improve the efficiency of the operation in the most critical periods, or reduce maintenance costs. However, one has to remember that it is a very complex phase and to maximize profits, it is necessary to run the entire process according to the well-prepared plan. Only then can you be sure, your cloud environment will be up and running without unnecessary idling.