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A blog about software development best practices, how-tos, and tips from practitioners.

The Cloud Migration Process Demystified

Organizations today are rapidly leaning in towards cloud technologies. A survey conducted by RightScale revealed that 93% of those surveyed were adopting the cloud. The 2014 IDG Cloud Computing Study discovered that cloud investments in large-scale enterprises increased by approximately 19% and that 69% of the enterprises have either applications or infrastructure running in the cloud. While moving to the cloud has some very obvious advantages such as cost benefits, scalability, agility and performance enhancements, migrating to the cloud has to be a well-thought out and structured plan.

Cloud migration does not mean simply lifting and shifting your applications to a cloud platform. Instead, it involves assessing the application’s architecture and check if it is compatible with the technology stack of the Cloud platform. Moving an application that has a ‘stateful’ architecture to the cloud will hardly benefit from the move as it will be difficult to deploy and despite the move, the application will not be able to scale. Hence, the first step towards cloud migration will involve defining the goals and objectives behind Cloud migration and then assessing if the transfer to the cloud will have an ROI or not.

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Along with this organizations should have a business continuity plan in place and be prepared for natural or man-made vulnerabilities that can potentially disrupt business. Organizations thus, should look at building in more diversity into disaster recovery and design systems that can run on different infrastructures to ensure business continuity at all times and ensure foolproof and smooth cloud migration.

cloud migration

To migrate to the cloud successfully, organizations need to evaluate the application by assessing the business drivers, outcomes and restrictions, the architecture and technology and the service performance and availability and then recognize the expected benefits. The primary consideration for successful cloud migration begins with an assessment of the network infrastructure. Organizations looking to migrate to the cloud hence have to move away from traditional network infrastructures and move to a well-designed, cloud-optimized infrastructure that enables

  • Traffic optimization for the key business applications
  • Support device diversity
  • Reliable and predictable WAN performance

These network considerations enable high-quality application performance and deliver greater visibility and control. Apart from this, there are some other areas that organizations need to look into to make the cloud migration process simple and effortless.

Infrastructure Inventory:

To understand the scope of the migration effort, organizations need to evaluate their application inventory and collate all the information regarding the number of scripts, programs and the external interfaces including the hardware and software configuration information. Once this is done, organizations need to assess their application and decide which applications will benefit from the move to the cloud and which can be managed in-house. Taking a look at the application architecture becomes critical in determining this. Legacy applications, sensitive data, mission-critical applications and workloads should ideally not be the cloud migration front-runners as these are critical to business. Assessing application dependencies first when planning a cloud move thus, helps in a smooth transition and also reduces downtime.

Cost Evaluations:

One of the key drivers of the cloud is cost efficiency as the move to the cloud reduces hardware and IT staffing expenses. Before zeroing in on a private, public or hybrid cloud, organizations must first understand that the cost benefits differ for each application. Legacy applications are usually more expensive to run in the cloud. However, applications such as mobile applications that have rapidly increasing or decreasing demand levels benefit more from the move to the cloud. Having all the application performance data, associated technical requirements, and identifying if there are any hidden costs when moving to the cloud help organizations chart clear financial expectations and determine the network and bandwidth costs that they need to incur. This also helps organizations determine the best cloud fit for them.

Cloud Environment:

To reap the complete benefits of cloud migration choosing the right cloud environment plays a very important role as each of these models have their own set of advantages. Highly-regulated industries such as finance and healthcare cannot leverage the Public cloud because of multi-tenancy and lack of control on the highly scalable environment. With a private cloud, organizations have an on-premises environment that offers greater control. That being said, cloud management then falls entirely on the organization’s shoulder. With Hybrid clouds, organizations get the best of both worlds but have to be prepared for performance issues such as latency and dependency.

Security and Governance:

While architecture and infrastructure are critical considerations for cloud migration, security and gov ernance should not find itself relegated to the bottom of the priority checklist. The shared, on-demand nature of cloud computing opens up the possibility of security breaches making security the most controversial component in the cloud. The LinkedIn Cloud Security spotlight report found that 41% of the respondents thought cloud security to be the greatest barrier to cloud adoption. Organizations thus have to re-look at their governance strategies and evaluate the security provisions and certifications of the cloud provider and ensure that the cloud provider has an in-depth defence strategy which includes things like multi-factor authentication on all hosts, concept of least privilege, host-based and network-based intrusion detection systems, patching shared resources and network segmentation etc.

Along with this organizations should have a business continuity plan in place and be prepared for natural or man-made vulnerabilities that can potentially disrupt business. Organizations thus, should look at building in more diversity into disaster recovery and design systems that can run on different infrastructures to ensure business continuity at all times and ensure foolproof and smooth cloud migration.

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