The demand for cloud services is increasing affected by a growing demand from businesses for digital transformation. So, the company’s management decided that they wanted to move their IT infrastructure to the cloud. However, the migration process can be painful without proper planning and testing. A number of companies have had difficulty or had only limited success migrating to a virtual environment.
Cloud migration is more than just moving data and applications from on-premises infrastructure to a virtual one. Migrating workloads to the cloud requires a well-thought-out strategy involving a complex mix of management and technology challenges, as well as reallocating IT workloads and resources.
Before taking any action, you should develop a migration strategy, choose a cloud provider, and evaluate digital assets. When moving, it is important to take all these steps.
1. Approve a common strategy for transformation and transition to the cloud within the company
It is necessary to determine the key goals of migration: these are cost optimization, performance improvement, fault tolerance of the infrastructure or individual systems, obtaining maximum flexibility due to the rapid scaling of computing resources, and others.
It is important that all parties involved understand the key benefits of the decision, as well as be interested in its implementation. The discrepancy between the opinions of the IT and the business parties very often lead to an increase in the terms of migration to the cloud or a decrease in the effect, and in the worst case, to the rollback of the entire plan with the loss of invested funds.
Almost every company uses Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure success and identify failures. The task of migrating to the cloud is no different. Fixing the key performance indicators of migration will allow you to correctly evaluate both the process itself and its final results.
Here are some KPIs worth stipulating:
- Availability. Decide on the target availability of information systems
- Scalability. Assess capacity growth needs and establish requirements for the speed and volume of changes that the infrastructure must be ready for. It can be either linear planned growth or seasonal changes or unpredictable explosive growth.
- Cost of ownership. Evaluate how should the cost of ownership of information systems change, including the cost of computing power itself, the resources of IT specialists needed to support them, as well as overhead costs.
It is important to bear in mind that many KPIs are related to each other and a change in one indicator inevitably leads to a change in another.
2. Choose a service provider
How to choose the one? When choosing a service provider, we recommend paying attention to the following parameters:
- portfolio of clients – experience of working on various projects and completed cases;
- the ability to provide customized solutions for the specific needs of the customer’s business, and not just boxed solutions;
- availability of several support lines, including vendor support, and the quality of this support;
- Compliance with information security requirements and certification of the infrastructure in the event that it is necessary to place information systems that store and process personal data of clients in the cloud;
- Service Level Agreement (SLA) parameters.
3. Conduct an audit of information systems within the company: determine the existing architecture of systems, their criticality for business, the presence of mandatory protection systems
- Moving to the cloud requires an assessment of all applications, services and systems used in the company. Start by auditing digital assets to determine their volume
- Make a list of the software, information systems and services you use
- Determine which applications no longer meet business needs and provide value
- Find out which applications and services can bring more value and work more efficiently in a virtual environment
- Determine the impact of each digital asset on the operation of the company and the level of protection that should be provided for each of them
- Identify dependencies between applications is another important point to consider. Information systems within the company most often do not exist on their own, but closely interact with each other. This means that moving one application can affect others.
4. Define a migration strategy for each business application
After the audit, it is necessary to determine a cloud migration strategy for each assessed digital-business asset. Before moving to the clouds, it’s worth working with your service provider to determine which strategy best suits your business needs. Gartner experts identify five key strategies, best known as 5R.
Rehosting – A cloud provider simply re-deploys existing systems on a cloud server. This strategy is chosen when there is no need for significant architectural changes.
Refactoring – This approach entails re-architecting applications to take full advantage of the cloud. When greater agility based on microservices is required, applications are broken into smaller parts or services and deployed in a containerized environment in one or more public clouds.
Revise – This strategy is most relevant when there is a need to upgrade legacy systems. Before moving to the cloud, you need to expand or change your code base. This approach helps to bring the performance of systems to the same level as the characteristics of the virtual environment of the cloud provider.
Repurchasing is rewriting an application from scratch on a service provider (PaaS) platform, removing existing code, and changing the architecture of the application. This solution unlocks new and innovative features through the cloud platform of the IT solution provider.
Replace – a strategy that involves the abandonment of existing legacy applications that no longer meet business needs, and the transition to “software as a service” (SaaS) model.
5. Together with the service provider, choose the best solution for hosting resources – public, private or multi-cloud hosting, build a migration plan for each of the applications and determine the level of service (SLA)
After the audit has been carried out, the criticality of each digital business asset and the required level of protection and scalability have been assessed, the appropriate type of virtual environment will be selected together with the cloud provider.
A private cloud is a solution for business-critical systems that directly affect business profits and require an increased level of security and data confidentiality. The public cloud is the most flexible solution and is suitable for those systems and applications that are subject to seasonal fluctuations and peak loads that are difficult to accurately predict. A company website may serve as an example.
When choosing a multi-cloud strategy, highly critical systems can be placed in a private cloud, and some digital resources can be transferred to public clouds. The multi-cloud model allows you to take advantage of the solutions of several market players at once.
An agreed level of quality of service provision is the most important aspect when working with a cloud provider. This is where SLA comes into play – the level of service provision, which may include parameters of continuity, availability, performance, response time to calls, downtime in the reporting period, and others.
6. Fix all the details with the service provider – agree on the TCP. Calculate total cost of ownership for cost planning and potential savings
Service providers offer a pay-as-you-go model – the customer only pays for the virtual capacity that was used. After receiving all the details and agreeing on a technical and commercial proposal (TCP), the business can calculate the total cost of ownership – the total cost that a company incurs due to the ownership of some asset, in this case, IT infrastructure. For the cloud, they consider the capacities that a company requires to cover all needs.
On-premises infrastructure costs are primarily capital expenditures (CapEx), while cloud infrastructure is typically comprised of operating expenses (OpEx). Having received all the data, the business can compare on-premise and cloud costs and evaluate the level of cost reduction when concluding a contract with a cloud provider for a selected period.
7. Conduct a “test” migration of the least critical system in combat mode
This stage is very important, since it is it that will allow us to assess the correctness of the developed plan and the possibility of achieving the set goals, as well as adjust the migration strategy in time before the “point of no return” occurs.
Companies often start the migration process with complex and heavy applications. The reasons for this decision are quite obvious. If a company migrates the largest and most business-critical system to the cloud, then most processes and data are migrated along with this system. In addition, if at first it was possible to transfer the most complex system, then the migration of other services and applications will be a walk in the park. This theory may be bonny, but practice shows that in the first place it is better to transfer the simplest digital resources. With this approach, you can test how effective the chosen methods are. Plus, time costs are reduced as well as the risk of failure. This means that the chances of successfully implementing the entire cloud transition project are much higher.
The next step is direct migration according to the plan. Depending on the selected service level, this operation can be carried out both by the own IT unit, and completely transferred to the service provider.
8. The final step is to assess the compliance of the set goals and performance indicators (KPI) with real results
If during the process, it turns out that a number of indicators and the desired results cannot be fully achieved, it is necessary to draw up a plan for adjustments together with the service provider and with time implement innovations.
Moving to the cloud can seem like a long, tedious process. But if you approach migration to a virtual environment in a comprehensive manner: create a clear plan, evaluate digital business assets, thoroughly test the migration, then the transition to the clouds can go seamlessly, that is, completely unnoticed by business and end users.