How to Migrate to the Cloud
Cloud migration has been a steadily growing topic of interest for businesses looking to take advantage of new ICT infrastructure models in the last few years. In 2020, 90% of companies already have at least one workload in the cloud, but there is a growing emphasis not just on where you compute, but instead leveraging how you take advantage of infrastructure developments to drive digital transformation. Businesses that are considering their first cloud migration have plenty of factors to consider before making the jump to cloud. There are a plethora of options and cloud service models available, each with their own benefits and challenges discussed below.
Why Do Businesses Want to Migrate to the Cloud?
The main motivations in cloud migrations are driven by a need for flexibility, the ability to scale up and down for variable application traffic within faster timeframes, as well as an increased focus on cost and performance efficiency. Cloud-based hybrid infrastructures are also a way for businesses to enable faster application implementation and deployment. Another major advantage of cloud-based architectures is the opportunity for more robust disaster recovery planning and contingency planning for the future.
What is Cloud Migration?
Cloud migration encompasses all the planning, processes and workflows required in moving business owned ICT assets (including applications, data, and databases) into a cloud-based environment.
Types of Cloud Migration Available
Public clouds are often the most accessible type of cloud environment for businesses as there is less setup required to get started. Compute resources offered by public cloud platforms (for example Google Cloud Platform) are accessed by multiple users, usually on a self-serve basis through an online interface. Costs are modelled on a pay-per-use system, making it easier to scale up when more storage and Vm application is needed.
Private clouds are usually set up to be used by one business only. Modelled on a private network, all resources are assigned solely to your company even if provided by a third-party cloud provider. This gives businesses heightened visibility and control over their applications and data, as well as extra security.
Multi cloud is when a business uses multiple cloud deployments from different vendors (either public or private or both) to fully service their IT requirements. One example is a company opting for a more localised cloud provider to store data, geographically required to stay in an area for compliance purposes. Multi cloud environments run concurrently and independently with no interconnection.
Hybrid cloud is an evolution of multi cloud with interconnected public and/or private environments, facilitating workload portability with APIs or middleware. The interconnection of multiple cloud environments gives businesses the best of both worlds, especially when paired with cloud on-ramp services with colocation facilities.
On-premise to Cloud Migration Strategy
The cloud migration process for all businesses is a combination of complex technology and management considerations that require extensive planning. The first step is to properly assess on-premise IT resources, taking stock of which applications need to be moved and which should be housed offline or in a private cloud. This assessment should include the context of the businesses’ entire network topology with applications and all their dependencies mapped thoroughly. This will give an idea of the complexity level of both design and integration needed to be moved into the new cloud environment. Automated asset discovery tools can be helpful in mapping entire systems including networks, applications and app dependencies, as applications may have hundreds of connections to be checked.
Cloud migration strategies should also take note of staff capabilities, as the skills needed to manage cloud-based applications are different to managing owned on-premise legacy hardware. Prudent businesses will incorporate training into their cloud migration plans, as well as early buy-in from key stakeholders across the business to make for a smoother transition. Key considerations for data such as latency, geographic location, and regulatory compliance can help to streamline decisions about data that would rather be stored in an on-ramp solution or private cloud. Planning for a cloud migration could be an ideal time for your team to look at how applications are currently being used and whether there is an opportunity to cull unnecessary features or historical data to increase cost efficiency in the cloud.
Once a thorough inventory has been completed, planning and timeframes can be agreed upon within the team. Within an agreed migration workflow, staff should plan processes that place high priority on business-critical applications, alongside other key issues including the securing of account login credentials and data replication.
Mainstream public cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) all have their own features that may be better suited for one type of application over another. When comparing these providers, businesses also shouldn’t neglect considerations for available bandwidth and costs associated. Most providers offer calculator tools that can estimate pricing once you have inputted your specific compute requirements.
Most businesses new to cloud migration will operate their transition using a simple 1-to-1 move, often called a ‘lift-and-shift migration’ where everything is replicated in the cloud exactly how it was structured on-premise. Sometimes, this type of move isn’t possible due to operational restrictions or inefficiencies discovered, so application restructuring is implemented in tandem with the migration. Businesses that do not currently have staff with experience in handling cloud architectures can lean on service providers, to bridge the gap in restructuring and optimising infrastructure ready to take advantage of all that cloud has to offer. Cloud platform providers also enable business to carry out the actual moving of data offline, in order to save on business-critical internet bandwidth. This involves the uploading of company data onto a separate offline appliance that is then transported to the vendors site, who then upload the data directly to the cloud for you. After the jump, it’s recommended to check functionality of applications across the board, accounting for redundancies and checking for security vulnerabilities.
Benefits of Cloud Migration
As part of an evolving digital transformation strategy within a business, migrating to the cloud has multiple benefits:
- Increased Agility: Businesses are able to easily upscale or downscale bandwidth used on the cloud reactive to demand, and this increased infrastructure elasticity allows IT teams to make more informed decisions.
- Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery: In the event of business interruption, cloud platforms enable the access and running of applications automatically. Backup data processes can easily be automated on a schedule and restoring data from the cloud can be more reliable than relying solely on hardware, where data corruption is a real possibility.
- Reduced Costs: Most public cloud offerings operate on a self-service, pay-per-use model which means it’s easier for businesses to stay in control of computing costs, as well as reducing spending on legacy hardware and equipment maintenance.
- Focus on Strategy: Instead of IT teams focusing on legacy hardware support, migrating to cloud can shift focus on data performance, usage efficiency, continuing stability and future growth.
- Flexibility: Business applications are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, making operations global and more connected if remote working is needed.
Disadvantages of Cloud Migration
- One Cloud Doesn't Fit All: Most businesses will have specific requirements that won’t be able to be fully serviced by one vendor or type of cloud platform. This necessitates the use of multi, or more likely hybrid cloud architectures where there may be a skills gap in the IT team. Ensuring interoperability between legacy systems on-premise and cloud services (including public and/or private) means businesses can benefit from working with a cloud service broker as an intermediary for experienced cloud support.
- Security & Data Integrity: A migration is a risky time as it increases the potential attack surface for cloning and DDoS attacks, not to mention the difficulties of ensuring compliance across systems. Robust security and authentication processes should be at front of mind for businesses before, during and after a cloud migration.
- Vendor lLock In: Concerns over cloud platform or vendor lock in are a real worry for businesses looking to make the jump to cloud. Lock-ins happen when contracts make it difficult to leave or move between platforms, even if a business is experiencing less than ideal workload performance, escalating compute costs and higher latency.
Best of Both with Hybrid IT (Cloud and Colocation)
Taking advantage of a colocation provider means businesses are able to house their business-critical hardware in a purpose built environment, and have the freedom to opt for a hybrid cloud solution that fits their needs. This allows IT teams to integrate multiple infrastructures as well as enabling access to secure, private clouds in addition to public clouds. Colocation also promises on demand reliability, availability and security with commitment to SLAs as standard.
How to connect to AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Rstor:
- Businesses interested in Microsoft Azure cloud migration are able to use Azure Migrate: Server Assessment which is a test environment to see how VM workloads could perform in the Azure public cloud before migration, as well as a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Calculator to estimate costs.
- AWS Cloud Migration is supported with their Application Discovery Service that helps to map and plan application interdependencies. The AWS Migration Hub also helps businesses monitor progress during a migration with visibility of statuses across all resources.
- Google Cloud Platform offers a Cloud Transfer Service, which encompasses both cloud-cloud and on-premise to cloud migrations, allowing for the backup of data during migrations.
- Rstor provides a portfolio of services that offers businesses a secure way to migrate mainframe workloads to the Cloud, increase bandwidth efficiency and streamline cloud product complexities.
Cloud Connect with Interxion
For many businesses, cloud migration is the next step for growth in their IT infrastructure. Digital transformation starts with the leveraging of one or multiple cloud solutions, opening the door to AI capability, IoT and wrangling Big Data. Cloud Connect is Interxion’s bespoke cloud access service, to enable private connections to multiple cloud providers. Access includes key cloud platform providers such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and other cloud services. Interxion colocation in London empowers businesses to leverage cloud ecosystems, within a secure and low latency hybrid IT model, to get the best of both worlds.