As part of Information Age’s Cloud and Backup Month, we are providing three CTO guides over the coming weeks on cloud and backup: cloud migration best practice, how to manage cloud infrastructure and cloud predictions.
Organisation’s are adopting the cloud in a frenzy. This migration is necessary for digital transformation (or digitisation) efforts — as organisation’s need to keep pace with growing customer demands and an increasing need to scale services.
This guide will focus on cloud migration best practice, with insights from CTOs and cloud experts.
The move to the cloud
The first step
Luis Weir, CTO for the Oracle DU in Capgemini UK, says that the first step in any cloud migration “should always be to do an assessment of the current IT landscape and determine what is the right strategy to move the on-premise workloads.”
“For example, some applications could be lift and shifted as there won’t be business value in trying to migrate them to a SaaS equivalent or rebuild them from scratch,” he continues.
“However other applications (e.g. older versions of Oracle ERPs) might be better suited for migration into the latest/greatest SaaS offering. In other cases (specially middleware applications) taking a cloud-native development approach might be required, meaning that some integration and/or services will have to be reengineered for the cloud.”
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“All in all, the first step should ALWAYS be to define a cloud migration strategy and understanding that there is no such thing as one size fits all. Another trend I am seeing is the use of Kubernetes-based platforms as the new ‘application server’.”
“I think in the near future at least, if an application is not capable of running in Kubernetes as a set of decoupled and scalable based microservices, then that application will be considered a monolith and not suited for modern architectures.”
Align to business goals
Walid Negm, CTO at Aricent, believes that business justification for moving to the cloud should be clear.
“Align business goals with the benefits that the cloud brings — such as faster and frequent application releases, flexible scaling (scale in/out) and optimise cost by minimising operational overheads,” he says.
Know your current estate
Neil Briscoe, CTO at Cloud Gateway, states that it is important to know your current estate in any cloud migration.
“It’s essential to figure out ‘what talks to what’; this is the biggest gap that enterprises miss, and they almost always come unstuck when the first app moves to the cloud.”
“Don’t be afraid to go multi-cloud — you can have your cake and eat it. You can choose best-of-breed for all workloads, but this may mean using more than one cloud provider for different services,” Briscoe says.
A good CTO doesn’t overcomplicate: Simple is better
“Automate as much as possible when in the cloud; try to abstract the provisioning and use agnostic tools so that you can move workloads between cloud providers until you get a feel for which provider is best for that workload.”
And finally, “never underestimate how long things take to automate, migrate and test. If you have an idea, double the time.”
Minimise the impact on end users
Aron Brand, CTO at CTERA Networks, says that organisations should invest in cloud strategies that minimise the impact on end users.
“For example, you may want to leverage cloud storage as a cost-effective alternative to on-premises storage systems. But you’ll want to store data in the cloud while ensuring it as accessible as if it were stored locally. This is enabled today using smart caching devices at the edge of the network, which keep active file data local so that users have the same level of access as they’ve always enjoyed through a typical NAS/file server. But these caching devices – either endpoints or file servers – allow you to develop cloud-first strategies that centre on a global file system becoming the primary home for data, while endpoints provide a local cache of that cloud-based “golden copy,” he explains.
“Enterprises today are investing in tools like these that migrate unstructured data to the cloud without their end users knowing anything has changed.”
A ‘strategic imperative’
Neil Barton, CTO at WhereScape, believes that for businesses, short term tactical needs often get in the way of achieving longer-term strategic value from a successful cloud migration.
“For business leaders, the proposition of migrating existing data and data infrastructure to get to the cloud seems overly complex and time-consuming. Traditionally, it has required teams of developers, consuming significant amounts of time and with a lot of room for error, project risk and general unease.”
“However, with the c-suite keen to experience the benefits of cloud for business agility, migrating to the cloud is a strategic imperative. It comes down to finding an implementation strategy that reduces these challenges, and speeds up the migration timeline.”
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“Automation of the migration of data warehouse infrastructure into the cloud is a great example of this, and can reduce the manual routine tasks associated cloud migration, meaning that the project can be accomplished in weeks or days, rather than months or years. In addition, automating the repeatable aspects of cloud migration, such as metadata, schema and data migration, reduces errors and allows developers to focus on the more value-added aspects of the process.”
“In short, at a time when IT teams are facing enormous pressure to deliver analytical information faster than ever with squeezed resources, automation means reduced costs, errors and complexity, all while helping speed up the cloud migration process, and hasten the time to value.”