Importance Of Scalable And Sustainable Cloud Migration

By Pankaj Gupta, Global IT Director Supported by Devashish Meher, Cloud Architect, Boston Consulting Group(BCG)

Pankaj Gupta, Global IT Director Supported 1. Introduction

We all live in an era, where cloud soundbites and cloud buzzwords are new norm in the market. These high end technical acronyms sound promising, very encouraging and motivating during technical debates, interactions and discussions with any of the audience around the globe. But when it comes to a real world implementation, even a simple migration may create a nightmare if not envisioned minutely keeping the desired objective or business value in mind.

Business leaders sometimes tend to get driven by factors which might solve an immediate business problem, achieve short term business value or follow an organizational short term mandate. Though these reasons are lucrative enough to get into cloud adoption but one has to be very thoughtful and should understand the delivered value standpoint from short term to long term benefits, risks and challenges while planning the adoption & migration.

Apart from the above factors, a cloud migration comes with benefits like Flexible Scalability, Reduction in TCO, Location Independence and ease of Environment handling for cases like Business Continuity Planning/ High Availability and Disaster Recovery.

Although we have a lot of benefits but we should not ignore some of the probable risks like Data maintenance and manageability, Compliances and Cloud provider dependency and Lock-in, and that too with least transparency in ownership.

2. Abstract

With the advent of 4.0 era (i.e Service 4.0 or Industry 4.0), data is now becoming the new oil, global markets needs to be prescient and proactive in their strategy for Data explosion management which if not planned with foresightedness for Application consumption will result in a degradation of Applications. This will further implicate into high TCO with uncontrolled storage and compute management.

This transition will not only impact the industries but also redefine the way they adopt the technologies, one of the most prominent being strategizing for Cloud Adoption and Migration.

Once a company has concluded Adoption they need to understand various Migration Strategies and models before actually planning the same.

3. Migration Strategies & Models

Majorly speaking there are four Strategic models on which Cloud Migration is based

3.1 Lift and Shift

When enterprise want to choose to move an application to cloud environment without making any changes, this model is being referred as Lift-and-Shift model. This model requires negligible upfront effort in migration process, hence it is pretty fast to deploy. Though it makes an enterprise migrated to cloud but it doesn’t generate any of the cloud associated benefits to the organization as it remains in same legacy architecture but outside the physical boundaries. In fact if the company grows exponentially then TCO is directly impacted with, thereby resulting in skyrocket expenses paid to the Cloud Vendor in mid to long term.

                                             Devashish Meher, Cloud Architect, Boston Consulting Group(BCG)                                

3.2 Refactoring

Another approach is to choose an application with a necessary architectural changes, redesign and reconsider entire technology stack which can bring the best value for the organization. This model is referred as Re-architect (refactor) model. In this model, enterprise takes full advantage of the cloud native features and associated benefits and it also helps an enterprise to run applications in a cost effective way on cloud. However it needs more upfront cost for re-architecture and redesign, but in the long run, it comes with a lots of benefit.

Although, it comes with a risk of shifting critical legacy application without right level of knowledge base about its integration across entire length and breadth of the enterprise.

To achieve real value of the cloud, it is prudent that enterprise must explore and move all non-proprietary, non-critical applications first by re-architecture/redesign to reduce noise, reap benefits, gain expertise and confidence before trying rest of the assets.

3.3 Re-platforming

Re-platforming is all about re-imagination of the application code altogether and make it cloud native.

This being the hardest option to implement, comes with the highest upfront cost and requires most planning for the future as well. It’s prescribed for the companies which want their core competencies to be elastic, scalable, robust and future proof for cloud. Recent case studies speak of a major chunk of companies adopting containerization while re-platforming the application to get scalability readiness and associated benefits in future.

3.4 Shift to SAAS

Sometimes, even it makes more sense to move service to SaaS instead moving any on-premise service to cloud. Though cloud is a future and path to support digital transformation journey of an enterprise but as a custodian of enterprise data and proprietary one has to be cautious while selecting the path of cloud journey.

4. Cloud Migration Checklist

• Determine your cloud strategy

Before leaping to cloud, it’s important to understand what needs to be established. This may be persuaded by determining certain KPI’s to determine a successful migration.

Examples of certain KPI’s can be

a) Application Performance in terms of CPU/Memory

b) Page Load times

c) Availability

d) Response times

• Evaluate the right cloud vendor

A key part of your data migration involved choosing a cloud provider that easily facilitate the migration process and certain factors to make this decision are

a) Services offered by Vendor

b) Experience from previous successful Migration

c) The kind of support the vendor is providing

d) Impact of any data protection laws and compliances followed by the vendor and so on.

• Evaluate migration components/applications

Not every application makes sense to be in the cloud. Cost and security are major components to be considered while evaluating the options. As one evaluate which applications should be moved to the cloud, keep these questions in mind:

a) Which applications can be moved as-is, and which will require a redesign?

b) If a redesign is necessary, what is the level of complexity required?

c) Does the cloud provider have any services that allow migration without reconfiguring workloads?

d) What is the return on investment for each application you will be moving, and how long will it take to achieve it?

e) For applications where moving to the cloud is deemed cost-effective and secure, which type of cloud environment is best - public, private or hybrid?

• Create a Migration Plan

Once the evaluation is done as which application and services need to be migrated, there are certain questions that one should also ask before making the migration plan

Determine how you want to move each asset to the cloud

a) How to maintain data integrity and operational continuity

b) Understand the dependencies

c) Determining order of migrating applications

• Execute the Migration plan

Finally execute the migration plan by minutely managing the project plan to mitigate all business risks

5. Conclusion

The increasing demand of computing resources is leading higher demand of cloud systems, making cloud computing one of the most discussed and adopted technologies.

Most technologists have concentrated on the phenomenal changes like elasticity, scalability and savings and many other features that come with Cloud. But the purpose of this phenomenon lies not only with adoption but also in the development of the quality and efficiency of Cloud Solution, and this would involve a very clear organizational vision as well as a very deep down understanding of application behavior.

One should also understand that it is very difficult to give predictions about the uncertain and fluid future of the environment surrounding Cloud computing – be it technology, its adoption, structure, industry, and regulatory regime, it is almost equivalent to outsourcing the IT with minimal ownership, so that companies can concentrate on their respective prime forte.

Therefore, it is imperative for organizations to perform a thorough evaluation and understanding of Risks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities in moving to the Cloud and then enjoying all the excellent benefits that are being offered by the cloud. (views are personal).

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