Offering cost-effective IT with flexible scaling, robust security, high availability, swift deployment and managed services, it’s easy to understand why so many digitally transforming enterprises are migrating to the cloud. Doing it right, however, requires careful planning to avoid unforeseen pitfalls. To help firms manage their migration effectively, here we explain the plans which need to be put in place.
1. Choosing the right time to migrate
For many enterprises, competition from rivals and the unique market conditions created by the pandemic have given them little opportunity but to accelerate their digital transformation. However, if an enterprise has recently invested in an existing in-house system or has ongoing financial obligations for its infrastructure, now might not be the ideal time to make the move.
If this is the case and there is still a pressing need to migrate, they should carefully manage their existing set-up to help finance that move. This could include finding new purposes for in-house servers so investment doesn’t go to waste and staggering cloud adoption in line with the retirement of on-site infrastructure. Companies can also create hybrid systems that use a mix of cloud and on-site infrastructure, provided that they are integrated to work seamlessly together.
As for the question of whether it is better to migrate your services in stages or en-masse, this depends entirely upon the individual company and its needs. Neither approach is without its challenges. Slow migration minimises the potential impact of anything major going wrong but it takes longer for companies to get the full benefit of the cloud. However, having feet in both camps is not an issue in itself; provided the overarching architecture is sound, it is something many companies choose to do.
2. Deciding what to migrate
There can be very good reasons why enterprises choose not to migrate fully to the cloud, especially to the public cloud. Those that need to follow strict regulations about the storage and processing of sensitive and personal data under GDPR, for example, sometimes prefer to keep that data on private clouds or on in-house dedicated servers. Before making any decision, it is important to carry out an audit so that the company has a clear understanding of what a move entails.
3. Planning application compatibility
A cloud environment can be very different from the one a company uses on-site and this means some applications that run without issue in-house might not work so well, or at all, once migrated. It is essential, therefore, that all software is lab tested to make sure it is compatible with the new cloud environment before being moved.
This is a particular problem for those using legacy applications that have been around before the cloud has become established – a problem far more common than most people think. Such applications may need upgrading or rewriting to make them compatible. More recently, developers have been better at creating applications that are portable between the different environments, many of which are designed for the cloud. Indeed the number of open source cloud apps available is growing rapidly and for those with severe compatibility issues, these can offer the best opportunity to move forward.
Aside from compatibility, the other issue with apps designed for in-house use is that they can perform less well than cloud-native apps. As the cloud may have different architecture and ways of storing data, this can impede the performance of an application.
Overall, it is vital to plan for this in order to make sure that applications will work effectively in their new environment.
4. Managing cost
While migrating to a service provider’s infrastructure can have significant financial benefits, such as reducing the need to purchase hardware and the ability to downsize in-house datacentres, enterprises will need to plan their costs.
Moving to the cloud enables businesses to make use of its almost limitless scalable resources. Though this is vital for ensuring a company has all the resources it needs to cope with spikes in demand and run data-heavy workloads, granting unfettered access to cloud services across the organisation can cause these pay-as-you-go costs to spiral.
To prevent budgets from being unwisely spent, enterprises should analyse the likely cost of their IT requirements, especially those using applications with high CPU usage and disk I/O consumption. During the planning stage, they should look at various deployment scenarios and usage options to make sure that any applications moved will be cost-efficient. There are cloud-based tools that are designed to track usage and help users make the most efficient and effective use of cloud resources.
5. Moving big data
The migration of large quantities of data is another task that needs careful planning. Enterprises will need to consider the best ways of transferring the data, with some even handing over storage disks to their provider. Another challenge is to find efficient ways of syncing their cloud and in-house data. Before migrating, it is advisable to undertake a full system audit to minimise the potential for unexpected problems.
Migrating to the cloud opens the door to digital transformation and all its benefits. Although such a move has its challenges, careful planning, as suggested in this post, will help enterprises discover and rectify unforeseen issues before they become a major problem. In particular, it can ensure they move the right apps at the right time, that applications are compatible with the cloud environment, that cloud usage is in line with budgets and that data is moved effectively.
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