Issy Ben-Shaul is CEO and Co-founder of Velostrata.
Results of a study conducted by Dimensional Research show some troubling numbers. Most of those surveyed in the report shared that initial cloud migration projects were more difficult than expected, with some failing entirely. In fact, nearly 75 percent of participants stated migration projects are taking a year or longer, and a majority reported migration projects are running late and over budget.
Despite these troubles, 96 percent of participants are currently migrating applications to the cloud. If cloud-related projects are increasingly popular and often a complicated process, how can an enterprise or company overcome the hurdles for a faster, smoother and safer migration?
Don’t Just Dive In, Seek Out All of Your Options
Your enterprise likely has hundreds, if not thousands, of applications to migrate to the cloud. So, where do you begin? Understanding which applications should be moved to the cloud first is crucial. There are many variables that will impact priorities, including identifying application dependencies, cloud-readiness, application SLAs, physical or virtual, etc. There are other variables that will also be crucial during the migration, like server names, IP addresses, number of VMs per application, VM OS and service packs, CPU, memory, attached disk space, shared storage, databases (size and type), licenses, bandwidth usage, integrations and more.
As you can see, there is much to consider before initially crafting a strategy. We recommend preparing a thorough questionnaire that outlines all of these crucial pieces of information. You can send this to application owners to help evaluate migration readiness but also to have key information easily accessible during the migration itself.
Commit to Your Approach
According to Gartner, there are essentially three cloud migration strategies that IT can use when moving to the cloud. The first is re-platforming, sometimes referred to as “lift and shift”, where enterprises re-deploy applications on an IaaS without making changes. The second, re-factor, keeps applications roughly the same, but reconfigures components to take advantage of cloud-native tools, like replacing SQL with Amazon’s RDS. Last, rewriting is where enterprises heavily modify existing code to carefully fit the cloud environment and take advantage of cloud-native tools.
Although these three options exist, enterprises are finding that the smartest (and fastest) strategy is to start with re-platforming (lift-and-shift) and just move applications into the public cloud first. From there, they can evaluate performance and optimize as appropriate.
Testing, Testing, Testing …
Enterprises don’t want to be locked in, and absolutely no one wants to strictly adhere to a process or platform and discover that it doesn’t work. Testing is a crucial step that ensures a successful migration. It’s also useful to run a proof of concept for some of the applications you plan to migrate. These pilot projects will help you get a feel for the migration process, but also validate two crucial pieces of your migration:
- First, the resources and capacity your application requires.
- Second, your cloud vendor’s capabilities and potential limitations (e.g. number of VMs, storage types and size, and network bandwidth)
Testing will help ensure you have captured the right configurations (settings, security controls, replacement of legacy firewalls, etc.), perfected your migration processes, and developed a cost-baseline for what your deployment will cost in the cloud.
Taking the Plunge and Finalizing the Migration Process
Once the playbook has been crafted and applications tested, enterprises have reached the final stretch and accomplish the success that many have been unable to reach. To ensure that success, we advise that enterprises use a phased, agile approach for moving applications to the cloud. After each phase, review the results and adjust your plan and process for lessons learned if needed to make sure the cloud migration journey continues smoothly. Moving enterprise applications to the cloud may involve some challenges—but the right planning combined with the right solution will deliver speed, simplicity, scalability and sanity.
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