We’ve spent the last few blogs discussing the strategic and cost benefits of cloud. But what happens when you decide to make the move? Migrating to the cloud is no simple feat. For most businesses, the whole process can often seem so complex that they just don’t know where to start.
Richard Watson, Research Director at Gartner sums it up, “When the CIO issues the simple directive to move applications to the cloud, architects face bewildering choices about how to do this and their decision must consider the organisation’s requirements, evaluation criteria and architecture principles.”
In this blog, we outline the key steps to a successful cloud migration:
1. Assess your workload
It is important to remember that not all cloud models are created equal and that different workloads may need different cloud models. The Enterprise Class Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas) model is intended for enterprise applications and most suitable for traditional workloads when reliability is required and expected.
Conversely, the Commodity IaaS cloud model is intended for cloud applications (web-scale applications) and built for applications that are distributed across nodes and across multiple availability zones or redundancy.
2. Select your cloud provider based on these considerations
The success of the cloud migration depends heavily on how your selected cloud provider addresses the following elements:
- Data sovereignty – Cloud services can be provided from anywhere in the world, but this brings privacy risks, as there may be local and international jurisdiction and laws involved. Ensure your provider’s data centre location aligns with your business policies.
- Data ownership and transferability – Data transferability on termination or expiry of the cloud contract is critical to ensure businesses can continue without any downtime. The ideal provider should meet these needs and have a clearly outlined procedure for data extraction.
- Programming interfaces – Cloud computing providers expose a set of APIs that organisations use to manage and interact with cloud services. Businesses can leverage these interfaces to offer value-added services to their customers, to drive better returns from the cloud service.
- Storage capabilities – For a growing business, data and workload storage needs may change. It is recommended to select a cloud provider with different tiers of storage to allow you choose the most appropriate capacity and scale when needed.
- Network capability and bandwidth – It is important that you understand the cloud network services supported by prospective providers, since it can have a sizeable impact when integrating or migrating services on to the cloud. Consider their network options and policies on IP address ranges and Layer 2 services.
- Financial stability – Regardless of whether you are considering a short-term, long-term or strategic relationship with a cloud provider, it is important to choose a financially stable vendor. Businesses should take some time to research their vendor’s annual reports and financial statements to know what they’re getting into.
- Service Level Agreements (SLAs) – This is a key concern as they define aspects of the cloud service from service availability to data centre locations to processes and policies around extraction and termination. Carefully review your prospective cloud providers SLAs to ensure they align to your needs and expectations.
3. Assess your providers’ migration methodology
Once the workload assessment and selection of provider are completed, it is time to do the migration. Ensure your cloud provider has a robust migration methodology which includes the following steps:
- Assess and plan – Understand the drivers for migration, identify any technical issues, assess the inventory of the current environment and determine the workloads, dependencies, hardware and software configurations. This will generate the best migration sequence.
- Design and build – Evaluate the migration options and location for each workload. This involves rightsizing the workloads, network design, application profiling, dependency mapping and data protection. This will deliver a report to document the complete migration strategy.
- Pilot testing – A pilot test is recommended to mitigate any potential migration risk. It allows you to verify that the services migrated or provisioned meet the business requirements and expectations. It ensures critical business applications perform as expected in a cloud environment before migrating production instances.
- Commissioning – Once the pilot testing is successfully completed, the cloud program can be commissioned. This includes the implementation of tools required for migration, workload placement and network configuration. Testing by provider and client completes the process.
A cloud migration involves several moving parts and carries certain risks. The right approach can help businesses navigate through the complexities and mitigate these risks. Continue to the full guide on cloud migration to get a clearer understanding of the path to a successful cloud migration journey.