The cloud has arrived, and it is here to stay. If you have not already moved your infrastructure, applications, and data to the cloud, you could be falling behind your competition. Here, we will explain why enterprises should move to the cloud, what steps needed for a successful cloud migration, what insights that will make your cloud migration journey easier, why mapping dependencies will limit the difficulties of the move, and how to migrate and validate to ensure that you have done it right the first time. (For more information, see our Guide to Cloud Migration.)
Why You Should Migrate to the Cloud
You might ask: Why would a company want to deploy its data, servers, assets applications, or any other assets in the cloud? If your IT infrastructure has always been on premise, it can seem like a lot of hard work to move to a cloud infrastructure – especially when the results might be uncertain.
While no one can predict the future, there is a reason why cloud adoption has been such a success for businesses in industries ranging from finance to healthcare to banking to technology. Some of the top benefits include:
Cost reduction and scalability. Hardware and infrastructure are expensive both in the cloud and on premise. But with the cloud, you can leverage your cloud provider’s expertise and economies of scale by easily adding or deleting resources as necessary. This is especially true for businesses that experience regular peaks and valleys in terms of traffic and data – they can get so much more out of the cloud as opposed to on-premise architectures. The cloud allows companies to scale up and down computing power and storage as necessary, paying for only what they use.
Automation. There is an ever-growing list of technical, financial, and administrative tasks that are challenging to many businesses, and the cloud can automate many of these. Imagine updating software, maintaining infrastructure, and upgrading servers to keep them up to date – all this can be handled on the cloud externally.
Security. In today’s complex attack landscape, data protection is one of the most essential elements of any business. In case of threat or natural disaster, the cloud maintains your data in a secure location, protected by backups and supported to ensure business continuity. The data is available anywhere, thereby supporting collaboration and productivity at any and all times.
How to Change Your Mindset for Cloud Success
A move to the cloud is about more than just the location of your servers, applications, or data. For most successful enterprises, it is also about a shift in mindset – and getting your employees on board is an essential part of cloud adoption.
The transition to the cloud, for example, can be leveraged to strengthen your company’s DevOps mindset. DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development (dev) and IT operations (ops) to shorten the systems development life cycle while still providing high software quality.
DevOps utilizes principles from the agile software development methodology including a never-ending cycle of planning, coding, building, testing, releasing, deploying, operating, and monitoring. Like software development using DevOps, the cloud journey is not one that has a clear start and end. Instead, it feeds and nurtures a company’s culture of continuous improvement and change, with the cloud being the vehicle for success.
Unsuccessful cloud migrations frequently start in a siloed manner, advanced by key staff members but without a strong business plan or cloud expertise in place (as exemplified by a center-of-excellence). Successful migrations begin with planning, the explanation of the need for change and the benefits to the broader organization, and the development of a core team that can lead the change and communicate progress to the entire business. Quick wins to establish morale as well as full transparency are critical success factors.
(Note: Faddom is hybrid application dependency mapping software that maps your entire on-premise and cloud IT environments in as little as 60 minutes. Learn more here!)
A Checklist for Starting a Successful Cloud Migration
After you know your current infrastructure metrics, then it is possible to measure the success of your cloud migration. Start by compiling a complete view of your on-premise or hybrid performance and mapping it to relevant KPIs (key performance indicators) to establish and track versus your cloud performance in terms of things including page load times, CPU usage, availability and response, conversion times or churn rate, and cost. Metrics should cover different categories such as infrastructure, application performance, and end-user experience or customer satisfaction.
“Lift and Shift” or Re-Architect?
Once you have strong visibility into your current IT architecture, you can sort through your applications and decide which, how, and when to migrate. Some can be moved as is – this is commonly known as “lift and shift” (or, in AWS parlance, the “forklift migration strategy”). This works well for self-contained applications without dependencies, tightly coupled applications, or stateless applications in which client data generated in one session is not saved for the next session with the client.
Other applications will need to be redesigned, either in whole or in part, and this may take more effort or cost than is worthwhile. Applications that are reliant on your legacy technology might be best left as they are, especially if you are planning a hybrid environment anyway.
When a redesign is in order, make sure to check that your cloud provider has the tools to help with the reconfiguration of workloads or assets. Always compare the migration effort to the expected return on investment. This cost analysis may make a tough process worthwhile or show that a seemingly obvious application to migrate should be left behind. Some applications may need simple amendments such as refactoring to support dynamic scaling or the dynamic application of resources.
Not all applications belong in the cloud. Security and cost are two factors to consider as you make migration choices at this stage of the game.
Understand Application Dependencies
Once you know what to move, think about application dependencies. What are the IT and business impacts of moving these applications or workloads to the cloud?
Unfortunately, native cloud offerings such as AWS Application Discovery do not show dependencies, so you will need to choose a provider that provides full coverage and visibility of your data center – both before and after migration. A solid understanding of this is integral to building a roadmap for migration.
The initial roadmap will provide the order in which to move applications that makes sense for your business. Some questions to consider about status and dependencies include:
1. How important is this application? How many users depend on it, and how sensitive is this application to downtime?
2. Was the application developed externally or in house? If the latter, can your staff support the migration? If the former, can the developing vendor assist in the migration?
3. What are the operational standards of this application? This can include technological considerations or business and organizational needs. Is this application accessed globally? Does it involve automation? Is it sensitive to latency or uptime requirements, and does it have defined windows for maintenance, compliance, or SLAs that need to be considered?
4. How many dependencies does the application have? Obviously, fewer dependencies enable a more streamlined initial migration. Consider dependencies on platforms like SAP, Citrix, or others you may have created yourself. Also factor in interdependent workflows like analytics, monitoring, and collaboration tools.
5. How complex are the processes? Every initial cloud migration needs to minimize complexity. If your applications have unique dependencies, involve a lot of manual processes, or are synchronized with other applications in terms of downtime and uptime, they are probably not the right choices for successful initial migration.
With a thorough understanding of your applications and their dependencies, you can then use business strategies to create a migration roadmap.
The first group of applications to migrate can be defined as “opportunistic.” This includes examples where the existing hardware might be in need of an update anyway, there is a clear ROI from cloud migration, or it is cheaper or simpler to run in the cloud. Such factors may enable quick business buy-in, and reduce the risk of your initial deployment.
After this, risk is a critical focus area. When uncovering dependencies, you will have gained the visibility to understand the risk of migrating each application. This leads to the ability to list moves by riskiness, which can then be used to cross reference with the simplest migration opportunities from the top of that list.
It All Starts with Visibility
Companies that struggle with cloud migration often cite the same reasons – not having the necessary information on the existing data center or on application dependencies.
There were blind spots, so migrating applications had a negative domino effect that they could not anticipate. They did not have baselines to measure whether the cloud migration was a success. They had no application context, so they just listened to their gut feelings or to the department head who shouted the loudest.
These challenges make cloud migration more expensive, less transparent, and less effective, causing slowdowns, frustration, and a much longer time to realize value. In contrast, a successful cloud migration starts with a core understanding of a company’s infrastructure, applications, data, and workloads and continues with the ability to keep this full coverage and visibility at every stage of the DevOps cycle.
Those who are considering a move to the cloud must start with full visibility of their applications and dependencies to get it right the first time.
Don’t forget: Map your on-premise and cloud IT environments in as little as 60 minutes — learn more here!