Key Cloud Migration Considerations

The business case has been made and you’ve appointed your project resources for cloud migration. It’s now time to scope and plan your migration. Moving your Enterprise IT workloads to the public cloud is a big decision and immediately alters the way you operate your business. It has to be approached strategically and shouldn’t to be taken lightly. There are many benefits to cloud IT, but you must carefully deliberate and plan. The wrong decision is going to cost you in more ways than you care to calculate.

Many thoughts must have cluttered your mind such as, which of the cloud service providers best meets your needs? How would you calculate the cost of cloud migration and operation? How can you ensure service continuity during and after the move? What kind of security measures should you take and what do you need to prepare for? How can you ascertain regulatory compliance? There are many more questions that you should answer prior to migrating to the cloud.

In this article, we will discuss few of the most pressing issues to consider when planning the move.

Private, public or hybrid?

One of the first things to decide when migrating to cloud is whether you will go private, public or hybrid.

On a private cloud, you will have a dedicated infrastructure for your business, managed either by your teams or third-party providers. Your organization will have its own dedicated hardware, running on your private network, and located on or off premises.

A public cloud provides its services over a network that is not your private one and it is available for others to use. Usually it is off-site and provides a pay-per-usage billing model that could result in a cheaper solution, once it efficiently shares resources over the various customers.

Hybrid cloud combines your private or traditional information technology (IT) with a public cloud. Usually it is used to scale up and down your infrastructure systems to meet demand needs for seasonal businesses, spikes or financial closings, or to handle the application apart from the data storage, such as setting up the application layer in a public environment (for example a software as a service) while storing sensitive information in a private one.

Current infrastructure utilization

This is definitely one of the things you want to evaluate when considering a move to cloud. In traditional IT, businesses usually purchase their hardware based on utilization spikes in order to avoid issues when these scenarios occur. By doing that, organizations may end up with underutilized equipment, which could result in a huge waste of money. Taking a look at your performance and capacity reports can help you address these workloads on cloud and decide whether to release unused capacity for other workloads or simply move them over and avoid new investments.

Cloud Workload Analysis

Out of your IT workloads running in your datacenter, some may not be appropriate for migrating to the cloud. It isn’t always easy to generalize the criteria for selecting the right applications for migration, but you need to consider all aspects of the execution environment. Given the service parameters promised by the provider, can you achieve the same level of capacity, performance, utilization, security, and availability? Can you do better? Can you afford less?

Your future growth must be factored into the decision. Can the cloud infrastructure scale as your resource consumption grows? Will your application be compliant with regulatory rules when hosted in the public cloud? How does the cloud infrastructure address compliance, if at all?

In order to make the right decision, you should thoroughly understand your current workloads and determine how closely their requirements, both for present and future evolution, can be satisfied.

Application Migration approaches

There are multiple degrees of changes you may want to do to your application depending on your short term and long term business/technical goals.

Virtualization – This model facilitates a quick and easy migration to cloud as no changes will be required to the application. Ideal candidate for legacy applications.

Application Migration – In this case your application will go through minimal architecture and design changes in order to make it optimal for a cloud model of deployment. For example, you may choose to use a No SQL database available on cloud.

Application Refactoring – This model will require a major overhaul of your application right from the architecture. This is typically done when you want to leverage the latest technology stack.

Backup policies and disaster recovery

How are your backup policies running today? Do they fit with your cloud provider? This is also an important point that organizations have to carefully consider. Cloud providers can have standard backup policies with some level of customization. It is worth it to have a look at those and see if they are suitable for your company before they become a potential roadblock. You’ll want to pay attention to retention frequency, backup type (such as full, incremental and so on) and versioning.

Disaster recovery and business continuity are important even for the smallest companies. Recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) are important values that define how much data you are willing to lose and what amount of time you are willing to allow for the data to be restored.

Licensing

Is the application licensed per VM, per core, or for total infrastructure footprint? This can have massive cost implications. If the licensing model requires that all available resources be taken into account even if not allocated to the client, licensing costs will increase if migrated to a public-cloud platform. Similarly, if the application licensing is based per core and the cloud provider does not offer the ability to configure your cloud environment per core, this will have an adverse impact on your licensing cost.

Integration

Organizations often discover application dependencies too late in the process of migrating workloads, resulting in unplanned outages and limited functionality to systems while these dependencies are addressed. Understanding the relationships between applications is critical to planning the sequence and manner in which cloud migrations occur. Can the application exist on the cloud in isolation while other systems are migrated?

Compatible operational system

Clouds are all about standards, and you need to keep versions of your operating systems and middleware up to date when you aim to migrate them to a cloud provider. You need to take into consideration that cloud service providers (CSPs) do not support end-of-life operating systems or those that are being phased out. The same likely applies to your middleware and databases.

Questions to Ask Your Potential Cloud Service Provider

Seemingly everybody is talking about cloud solutions, from small businesses to large Enterprises. It’s not hard to see why – the benefits over on-site deployments are numerous – rapid deployment, potentially lower costs of ownership, and reduced maintenance and administration, to name but three.

For IT companies and Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) offering solutions to their clients, the cloud equals opportunity. Unsurprisingly, rather than investing the considerable time and effort required to develop their own cloud solutions from scratch, the majority of smaller IT solution providers instead partner with cloud service vendors to provide their clients with services ranging from CRM to backup.

But one of the benefits of cloud services – rapid deployment – can also lead some IT companies to look at partnerships with cloud vendors with rose tinted glasses. If things go wrong with the cloud service, the first complaints won’t come into cloud vendors – they’ll come into the IT solution providers selling those services. For this reason alone, it’s important for IT Solution Providers to take a step back and ask potential cloud partners “What happens when things go wrong? And is it really the best solution for your business?

Below are a few questions that you should ask your potential cloud solution provider:

Does the cloud fit our current business needs?

It is true that, for many businesses, the cloud is the way to go. Gartner, Inc., the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, has said that by 2020, a corporate “no-cloud” policy will be as rare as a “no-Internet” policy is today. This is the kind of hype that makes it seem like everyone who matters is already using the cloud, and those companies who have remaining physical infrastructure will be left in the dust. But that may not always be the case. Cloud migration doesn’t make sense in all scenarios.

Security and Availability

For one, moving systems to the cloud may complicate security measures and/or unique regulatory compliance considerations. In some cases, (i.e. HIPAA, instances of national security, etc.) extreme information security is necessary and having direct control of an on-site system is critical.

Learn about how they deal with and monitor security issues, install patches and perform maintenance updates. Does it match your company’s expected level of security or service? Ask where they host data and if it’s a shared or a dedicated environment, and find out how many servers they have and if those servers are set in a cluster. It’s also critical to know if the infrastructure is mirrored and 100 percent redundant. While you’re at it, investigate their disaster recovery processes and determine if they operate out of a Tier 1 or Tier 4 data center.

Integration

This is a deal breaker. Be sure to ask how their solution integrates with your current IT environment and other solutions. What’s their track record and game plan when it comes to integrating with other, on-premise solutions you already have installed? If halfway down the road they realize it does not integrate, what is their contingency plan and what kind of guarantees are they willing to offer?

Uptime Metrics and Reports:

Find out how your vendor measures uptime and how that’s communicated to clients, such as what part of the hosting infrastructure (hosting, server reliability, service delivery, etc.) the uptime calculation takes into account. Ask about processes in place for handling major outages: do they have a SWOT team in place, how do they typically communicate with the client (phone, email, RSS Feed, Twitter, SMS), and at what speed and with what level of details. Determine if they are proactive or proactively reactive when a problem occurs.

Are applications essential to your business operations cloud compatible?

Some applications may not run as well in the cloud, as Internet bandwidth issues may impede performance. It isn’t enough to have a high-performance hosted application server if your Internet bandwidth limitations will deliver a bad user experience.

Another consideration to keep in mind is application portability. Although it is often easy to migrate an application server to the cloud, the application might have external dependencies that complicate the move.

Finally, older applications that run on legacy operating systems may not have cloud-friendly functionality. Before initiating a transition to a virtual infrastructure, it’s essential for you to check in with your MSP partner about each application’s cloud compatibility, as they should do rigorous lab testing to identify issues in advance of a move.

Assess the Vendor’s Sales Process

Does the rep take the time to understand your company’s needs or is he or she just selling for sales’ sake? If the rep spends time to assess your business requirements, it’s likely that same attitude permeates the entire company. Industry studies show that many applications sold out of the box fail to meet the customer’s requirements because they’re not customized to the client’s needs. Make sure that the vendor pays attention to what you need and not just what they want to sell. Finally, after-sale support can tell you a lot about the seriousness, professional nature and quality of the internal processes of an organization.

How does a move to the cloud fit into our existing IT roadmap?

Technology is the backbone of modern business. That said, your IT roadmap should complement your business goals. Cloud infrastructure allows the right systems to be quickly and efficiently implemented across the business. Whether you’re looking to expand your client base, attract top talent, or all of the above, using technology that boosts your business’s capabilities can be a huge asset.

How is Pricing Set Up?

Obviously, pricing is an important question to ask. You’ll want to learn about the vendor’s billing and pricing structure. Most set up billing as a recurring, monthly item, but it’s always good to do your homework. Are you being asked to sign a contract, or does your deal automatically renew, as with an evergreen agreement? If the vendor’s price is unusually low compared to others, it should raise a red flag. Find out why. Can you cancel at any time without hidden fees? Do you have a minimum of users required in order to get the most attractive price?

By thoroughly covering this ground, you’re most likely to find not only the right cloud vendor, but also the best solutions for your company and your clients.

The Ultimate Guide on Kubernetes and Cloud Containers

Emerging cloud computing technologies have evolved more with the open source. New ideas are now becoming technological solutions for enterprises with increasing demands for complex and highly scalable technologies. The advanced cloud ecosystem has become more efficient for both development and IT operations teams of start-ups as well as established enterprises.

Introducing Kubernetes – Technical Overview:

For automated deployment, scaling, monitoring and operations of application cloud containers, it is the most efficient open-source platform. It includes all essential elements with greater scalability options as a complete container-centric infrastructure. Since automation remains the core part of this, professional resource optimizations, adding new features for the end users by scaling up the resources have become more obvious with this option.

Integration through Cloud Containers:

There are many reasons why the enterprises are switching to cloud platforms and containers. To get rid of heavyweight and non-portable architecture; deployment of small, fast yet portable technology platforms are getting the best impact. Instead of hardware virtualizations, the newest way of deploying applications through containers focusing on operating-system-level virtualization. In this way, we can put an end to the limitations of the host through choosing executable file-systems, libraries, and etc.

Adding the most advanced feature of automation of workflow and workload balancing can be simplified with Kubernetes. Scheduling and running application containers along with developing a container-centric development environment is possible with it. Whether on physical or virtual machines, it can be utilized on all platforms with ease.

Installing and Accessing the Cluster:

Setup or installation of the system varies according to the host OS, through different modules. Kubeadm is used for installations on Linux, kops for AWS, are the most common options available. Similarly, for accessing the clusters and sharing it through kubeconfig is much easier. Kubeconfig also adds security features to authenticate every access to the clusters.

Its web-based User-Interface or Web UI includes all controls. This dashboard can be accessed remotely for setting up, controlling and monitoring the processes of containers on the clusters. The online user guide and the community that supports this technology are much active to help in installations of the system.

The Ease of Deployment:

With the simplified configuring modules, launching or deploying applications on cloud containers happens on the go. Well management of resources and replication controller has become an essential part of workload deployment and management segment. Performing batch jobs on this cloud environment and the processes of corn jobs can be resourcefully done here.

With Kubernetes, connecting applications with appropriate services through configuring firewalls of the cloud service providers can be done at once. In complex configurations, creating an external load balancer and use of federated services to discover cross-cluster service. Resource usage monitoring, process logging and like jobs become more accessible with specified modules available on the dashboard. Administrating clusters, installing add-ons, rolling out new features and updates have become more resourceful on a cloud container environment. Configuring or connecting this automated workflow system on other advanced aspects makes the processes more resourceful.