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Cloud Migration Done Right - Part 1: Paving the Path

By Prabhu Chennupati | December 1, 2022

Even in today's modern scenario, there are applications in enterprises hosted on-prem in self-managed Data Centers. There could be valid reasons for such a setup, but self-managed Data Centers come with a lot of inflexibility in infrastructure and maintenance, resulting in higher costs and longer time-to-market for business applications.

If an enterprise is open to exploring solutions for Cloud Migration for some applications or environments within an application, this blog will come in handy. Let's explore how to evaluate Cloud options, ideal approaches, steps to consider for migration and the things to mull over for an ideal Cloud migration strategy. It is imperative to spend time analyzing and starting slow by carrying out POC before making any decisions.

This blog will not focus on building a Cloud Native application or transforming a legacy application to Cloud Native. The focus is on migrating on-prem application(s) to leverage cloud infrastructure solutions and its benefits.

Evaluate Cloud Partners

There are a lot of Cloud infrastructure providers, and the top ones by market share are Amazon's AWS, Microsoft's Azure, and Google's GCP. Which of these best fits your application needs is a crucial aspect to evaluate as part of the preliminary analysis in your Cloud migration strategy. Here are the key areas to evaluate -

1. Corporate Preferences

The first thing to do is to check within the enterprise if there is/are any preferred public Cloud partners. If so, evaluating with them is the best place to start. If there are multiple partners, pick the ones that best fit your application's needs.

2. Product Compatibility and Support

The vendor products used by your application play a vital role while zeroing in on the Cloud provider. There could be cases where the vendor products used could support specific Cloud providers or their services versus others. So engaging the product vendors and consulting with them on the compatibility and support of Cloud providers would help narrow down options.

3. Cost and Pricing

Cloud comes with enhanced flexibility and entails multiple ways to reduce cost compared to on-prem self-managed Data Centers. Understanding how the cost and pricing work for each Cloud provider is key at the initial stages of the analysis. Cloud providers offer multiple ways to reduce costs, such as auto-scaling, on-demand vs. reserved instances, instance types, etc.

Socializing with Partner Teams

For a successful Cloud migration strategy, it is essential to bring all the partner teams on the same page and explain the current challenges with the on-prem Data Center setup and how Cloud migration would help. Some teams might have questions, challenges, and some reservations about Cloud migration, and you should have an open dialogue with each of the teams/members to address them. One of the key ways for constructive dialogue is to convince teams to evaluate as part of POC and then decide. It helps to keep the idea of Cloud migration moving.

1. Identifying

Identify the key teams and team members supporting your application(s). These teams could be your data providers, data consumers, platform team, middleware team, networking team, security team, infrastructure team, etc.

2. Onboarding

It is important to onboard the key teams identified for articulating the current Cloud migration challenges. Be prepared to face resistance and ease into things by making everyone a stakeholder in the migration.

3. Collaborating

Making the key teams stakeholders of such change would help collaborate and share the effort and success. Make it a collaborative and collective effort/agenda of your enterprise instead of just your application's agenda.

Corporate Cloud Processes

Cloud migration involves a lot of enterprise processes to be engaged to have clearances from security, compliance, and legal teams. It's time to start exploring the process of getting approvals from these teams. Most enterprises have pre-established processes for any software or hardware onboarding, and it's best to start there.

1. Security

Engage the security team and explain the current state of your applications and what you expect to do as part of Cloud migration. Collaborate with the security team to extend all corporate security measures to Cloud.

2. Encryption

If there are requirements to have Data at rest or in-motion encrypted, then you need to evaluate how it will be achieved on Cloud. You could engage your Cloud and vendor partners to help assess this and present it to the security team for review and approval.

3. Legal

If there is an existing Cloud partner, then the legal proceedings should have already been taken care of. If your application is the first to go through Cloud Migration, then the partner agreements must be established.

Any vendor product or custom software that could be migrated to the Cloud as part of this exercise needs to be evaluated from a compliance standpoint. Evaluate if the same licenses would work or if separate Cloud licenses need to be procured.

Vendor Products

Your application(s) could use one or more vendor products or solutions for the Cloud migration like a database, web server, application server, messaging, load balancer, scheduler, etc. Each of these vendor products and its vendors must be engaged in a discussion for evaluation.

1. Compatibility and Support

Each vendor product must be evaluated for compatibility and support for the chosen Cloud partner and the services they offer.

It is also essential to evaluate the Operating Systems the Cloud partner offers and the compatibility of the vendor products with the offered OS. If the offered OS is incompatible, you need to evaluate bringing your own OS image to the Cloud and sort out the licenses on the Cloud.

2. Performance and Benchmarks

The vendor products must also be evaluated for the performance on the chosen Cloud provider and its services. If the vendor product is supported on the chosen Cloud, there should be performance benchmarks with the vendor, which should be requested and evaluated.

If it's a custom application, then the performance needs should be evaluated as part of POC, and the results compared with on-prem.

3. Cloud Services and Infrastructure

Apart from infrastructure, there are other Cloud services that the Cloud providers offer. They could be a database-as-service, platform-as-service, etc. For instance, if you are currently using Cloudera Data Platform and your chosen Cloud is AWS, it's better to evaluate AWS EMR, which offers a similar Hadoop platform.

4. Vendor Managed vs. Self-Managed

In some cases, the Cloud migration process opens up doors for vendor-managed services. For instance, if you are using self-managed Elastic Search in your current on-prem setup as part of Cloud migration, you will have an option of Vendor-managed Elastic Cluster. So, evaluate if you want to self-manage your clusters or if the vendor must manage them for you.

Note that once your application is migrated to the Cloud using the self-managed approach, it can always be changed into a vendor-managed one.

Next Steps

Once the path is paved working with all the teams listed, it's time to carve out a POC and execute and evaluate various aspects of Cloud infrastructure. The application's functional and performance evaluations must be carried out along with a cost-benefit analysis. POC and Full migration details are covered in Part II of this blog.

Mastech InfoTrellis specializes in solutions like multi and hybrid-cloud automation, custom Cloud application setup, containerization of legacy workloads and more. For companies considering the move to Cloud, Mastech InfoTrellis offers a range of Cloud adoption services to address diverse migration challenges and needs. 

Prabhu Chennupati
Prabhu Chennupati

Enterprise Consulting Architect

He is an avid technologist with extensive experience in enterprise application design and development.