Optimize your cloud migration costs: An Essential Guide on How To Budget Cloud Migration
More and more businesses are moving from their on-premise data centers to the cloud pursuing well-known advantages, such as scalability, security, high performance, and cost-effectiveness. However, as the companies start their digital transformation journey, they may face a number of unexpected challenges forcing them to go over the initially allocated budget.
In some cases, cloud migration processes are not optimized to the point they should be or they are inadequately planned from the very beginning. So, how to allocate the right amount of resources needed for migration? In this article, we will guide you through the cloud migration budgeting and planning basics that will help you realize the most economic benefits from getting into the cloud.
What are cloud migration costs?
There is a number of costs associated with not moving into the cloud as well. Keeping the on-premise data center, you may spend your IT budgets on hardware upgrades, software licenses, maintenance, and support, etc. On the other hand, migrating to the cloud infrastructure , your company will have to invest a certain lump sum amount to move your environment in the cloud and plan for regular ongoing expenditures for the cloud capacity in use.
As for the initial project investments of cloud migration, a company may need some budgets on system configuration, deployment and integration of cloud applications, testing data conversion, training for IT staff members and users. According to the Forrester study , labor costs account for most of these upfront expenditures. These labor costs are lower when you choose a simple lift-and-shift migration and increase if you want to rearchitect and refactor along the way. Once you are in the cloud, ongoing regular expenses will include subscription fees for the services that you use and configuration changes.
What does cloud migration include?
Cloud migration entails different processes and budgets depending on the cloud migration approaches you use: Cloud as a Transition or Cloud to Transform. In the first case, you just move the existing architecture in the cloud, while in the latter you change the value proposition and take the almost new product into use. The transformational approach is riskier and can be compared to flying the pane while assembling it, but it also can generate new competitive advantages for your product and drastically enhances the agility of your business.
Once you have chosen the strategic approach, you have to evaluate the existing environment of your project and create an actionable migration plan. You have to specify a migration path for each component of your infrastructure, either you do a lift-and-shift migration, re-factoring or cloud-native migration. Next, you should pick the best-fit cloud products and create a justified budget for the migration project.
How to calculate cloud migration cost estimates?
Migrating into the cloud you have to take into account and budget initial investments, as well as ongoing regular payments for the cloud services. Typically, initial project tasks (deployment and integration of cloud applications, training) require collaboration between your IT group staff members and cloud vendors. It is recommended to consult with the selected cloud provider to get the right estimates.
The cost optimization and budgeting software can be of great help as you plan the regular expenses. One of the popular tools is AWS Pricing Calculator . It is a web-based cloud migration cost calculator to estimate the costs of AWS services and products and see how your monthly bill will look like in the AWS clouds. Similar tools are available for other public clouds as well:
- Google Cloud Platform Pricing Calculator
- Microsoft Azure’s Pricing Calculator
- Rackspace’s calculator
- IBM Bluemix’s calculator
Third-party vendors also offer dedicated software tools for cloud budgeting, analytics, and optimization . In some cases, these calculators are enhanced with AI-powered decision engines for real-time right-sizing suggestions.
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The best tips for cloud migration cost savings
Based on our expertise, we provide you a short-list of the most important things to consider if you want to save some money on migration:
- right-size your cloud infrastructure from the very beginning
Choose your minimum and optimal performance requirements first and only then select a cloud provider with the lowest fees. Here, one of the common mistakes is copy-pasting the on-premise infrastructure to the cloud, when you pick the cloud capacity based on the look-alike comparison of your data center facilities. Instead, you should focus on the user standpoint and right-size the workloads based on their actual performance.
Once you are in the cloud, analyze the computing services in use and adjust them to the set requirements. For example, using Amazon CloudWatch and other right sizing tools, you can trace CPU, RAM, network utilization and turn off non-production instances.
- use reserved instances for stable and predictable workloads
Major public cloud providers offer the possibility to reserve capacity upfront at much lower prices. That means that if you predict that there will be no significant peaks and falls of capacity utilization for certain instances, you can reserve them with the discount while ensuring that you have the cloud capacity to power your application.
For example, Amazon allows you to reserve capacity for one year with an average discount of 40% for steady-state usage and 31% for convertible instances. By using the long-term reserved instances and paying for them upfront, you can save even more - up to 75% of the regular on-demand charges for the same capacity. With convertible instances, you also have the flexibility to convert characteristics of reserved instances within the region where they are located: change the networking type, instance families, operating system, tenancy.
- opt for the managed services and don’t forget to budget these expenses
The vast majority of public cloud services (AWS, Google, Azure) go unsupported, which means that you will need to manage them on your own or use managed services. In most cases, opting for the managed services provided by third-party vendors is less expensive than adding cloud architects to your team.
- establish the cost visibility
Operating the public cloud infrastructure , your applications run in the pay-as-you-go mode. That means that while you plan for certain amounts of traffic and workloads, the reality can be somewhat different. IT staff keeps spinning virtual machines and containers, there are data flows in and out of the cloud, and your monthly invoice can easily exceed the initially projected level.
To overcome this challenge, it is useful to set the budget thresholds for your expenditures and trace them over time. This can be done using one of the software tools, for example, AWS Budgets and Amazon CloudWatch. It is also recommended to tag the resources that you spent so that you can cost-allocate them to your organization’s projects.
- don’t get into analysis paralysis when seeking the lowest fees
In many cases, the cloud migration services become mixed with business analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions, and you might not be able to broker which providers give you the best prices. It is more useful to focus on the end-state infrastructure goals you set for the cloud migration.
Key methods for cloud migration cost analysis
It is quite difficult to conduct a rigorous cost analysis for migration as the cost equation includes many components and gets even more complicated if you choose the transformational approach. However, you still can employ some cloud migration cost models here to get a rough approximation of the cloud costs and savings you could extract from the migration project.
For example, if you already have the on-premise infrastructure, you can analyze the present value of the cloud migration project by calculating and discounting differences between the on-premise and cloud scenarios. Using the AWS Total Cost of Ownership Calculator , you can play around and evaluate your expenditures under these two scenarios. With this tool, you can specify the technical features of your project, such as server types, configurations, number of virtual machines, etc. and get the quick dirty comparison of cloud versus on-premise. Similar calculators are available for Azure and Google clouds as well.
Another method that may help you make the right decision is stress testing for the cases when your organization needs to scale up and down. In the situation when you operate from the on-premise data center scaling up requires additional investments, while scaling down implies sunk costs. On the other hand, the cloud-based cost model is based on a subscription model when you only for what you use. To assess the impact of scaling on your infrastructure, consider several scenarios of workload on your project and compare your expenditures.
As the competition across industries grows, you have to make sure that your project streamlines the value for the customers in the most efficient way. Cloud infrastructures do not necessarily guarantee cost savings, as they depend on many factors and smooth migration. However, it is possible and well-achievable to cut your IT infrastructure expenses with cloud technologies.
Cloud migration budgeting is one of the first steps that need to be done once you have chosen the strategic approach, assessed your existing IT topology, and specified the migration path for your databases and applications. Budget estimates are one of the slippery aspects of this process that can drain your company’s performance or prevent you from transforming your environment at full speed. We recommend using the dedicated software tools to get a quick approximation of migration costs and consult with the selected cloud provider prior to approving the project budget.
Here, at Triangu, we help our clients to extract the most value from the cloud, also in terms of cost reduction if you go for cloud versus on-premise. We always try to understand the ultimate goals of your project and map out the best cloud architecture for you now, and scalable for the future. Moreover, we provide a comprehensive strategy on how to overcome major cloud migration challenges . If you have any further questions on how to budget, plan or execute the cloud migration, you can book a free 2-hour consultation with one of our experts.
Best Cloud Migration Tools in 2020
Moving databases, apps, and workloads to the cloud can cause significant disruption to your business activities and poor service delivery. Either you do a mass lift-and-shift or you re-architect and refactor along the way, a number of technical issues may occur during the migration.
Some of the migration challenges may include downtime and performance disruption, privacy issues, data loss, machine compatibility, and interoperability differences. In addition, there are risks of overspending the planned budget, human failures or a breach of project time limits.
Aiming to execute the project safer and faster, you have to choose the right cloud migration assessment tools, replication and integration software and other services along the process. These tools can help you orchestrate large-scale migrations, undertake the actual transfer of virtual machines and datasets, and optimize the process in terms of network bandwidth consumption and time.
In this article, we bring you an assortment of some of the best AWS cloud migration software currently available and what these tools can do for you.
VM Import is a tool that allows you to import (or export) your virtual machine (VM) images from your existing environment to Amazon EC2. You can use a catalog of approved VM images, copy your image catalog to Amazon EC2 or create a repository for backup and disaster recovery.
Basic steps of the migration process with VM Import are as follows:
- export VM from the existing environment as an OVA file
- build an AWS S3 bucket and upload the VM image using AWS Command Line Interface
- import the machine and monitor the import progress
- upon the completed import, launch EC2 instance
Once your applications and workloads have been imported, you will be able to run multiple instances from the same image and create Snapshots to backup your data. With VM Import, you can retain the software and settings that you have configured in your existing VMs and at the same time run your applications and workloads in Amazon EC2.
AWS Snowball is a petabyte-scale migration tool to transfer large amounts of data in and out of AWS Clouds using physical devices. These transport devices are pretty robust, can take 200 G impact and have rain and tamper-resistant layers. The data can be ingested at the speed of 10 gigabits per second and you can pump those datasets from multiple sources at one time.
This solution is perfect for enterprises with large datasets of confidential information that will take years to transfer to the cloud through the network. The cryptographic keys are not stored on the devices and Snowball hashes the data on ingestion and extraction to confirm that the data has arrived correctly. So, the data is securely protected through end-to-end 256-bit encryption and passes the needed checkups to ensure that no changes occurred during shipment.
In many cases, ingesting large datasets through physical devices is more straightforward, fast, secure, and cost-efficient. It can cost as little as one-fifth of transferring data via the high-speed network connection. For example, if you want to transfer the large database of 80TB, Snowball migration will take less than one week including shipping, while the transfer through the network may take up to 126 days (depends on the connection speed and utilization). Enterprises and governments use the Snowball service to migrate analytics data, genomics datasets, video archives, image repositories, server backups, and to archive large datasets, tape replacement or application migration projects.
CloudEndure Migration rehosts a large number of virtual machines from multiple sources platforms (physical, virtual, or another cloud) to AWS. With this tool, you don’t have to worry about compatibility, performance disruption, long cutover windows, or long-distance data replications. The solution also ensures high security and compliance for regulated application environments.
CloudEndure is a highly automated migration tool and requires a minimal skill set to operate the migration process. It can be easily plugged into any of your migration factories and cloud COEs. From the console, you can track the data replication progress of the virtual machines, create non-disruptive test sets prior to cutover, launch the machines in the time and order you want, add and remove the source machines, or enact the backward migration.
AWS Server Migration Service
For situations where you cannot install an agent-based migration on your server, AWS provides an agentless service to easily migrate on-premises workloads to AWS from a snapshot of the existing server. AWS Server Migration Service is absolutely free of charge and ensures the cost efficiency of migration in terms of network bandwidth taxation.
With AWS Server Migration Service, you can automate incremental replication of live server volumes to AWS, monitor network bandwidth and track the progress with AWS Management Console. It is also worth mentioning that server migrations are tested iteratively until final cutover and on-demand replication is supported to reduce downtime during migration. You can create customized replication schedules and orchestrate large-scale migrations, such as transferring 500 VMs into the cloud with just a few clicks.
To accelerate your migration process and achieve the set business outcomes, you should use the right migration software that fits your needs. Choosing the tools, you have to start with the adopted migration approach (lift-and-shift, re-architect and refactor, replatform, etc.) and take into account the complexity of the application, security and performance requirements, data volumes, as well as the possibility to provide real-time reports to engaged stakeholders.
Some of the common AWS migration tools include AWS Server Migration Service, CloudEndure Migration, Snowball, and VM Import. These solutions are efficient in addressing common challenges and pain points of migrating large-scale datasets, such as risks of disruption, high network costs, long transfer times, compatibility and security concerns. The comprehensive list of all AWS supported cloud migration tools and services for data transfer can be found in AWS Migration Hub.
5 Common Migration Challenges (And How to Overcome Them)
The cloud is one of today’s most demanded and dynamic technologies. It has transformed traditional business models and made new things possible in the workspace like online collaboration and AI as a service. For most companies, cloud migration has become a question not of if but of how.
Cloud migration is an equation with many sides. While it may seem daunting at first, the right preparation will help ensure a smooth migration. In this post, we will discuss the top hurdles to keep in mind as your company prepares for the big move.
What are the main cloud migration challenges?
In our role building and deploying new cloud environments for a wide range of clients, a big part of that work is helping our clients overcome challenges in shifting workloads and addressing points that are not fully optimized. The challenges of cloud migration we most often see are:
- Lacking a clear strategy determined by business objectives
- Cloud sprawl caused by not having a clear understanding of the full scope of cloud environments
- Exceeding the planned budget
- Security weak points and failures of critical services
- Human error and a lack of skills required to operate the new infrastructure
The good news is that none of these challenges are without solutions. Let’s discuss how you can overcome the challenges in cloud migration and make your transition as smooth as possible.
Develop your cloud migration strategy
The most common mistake that can prevent you from fully reaping the benefits of the cloud is not having a clear business objective behind the move or a well thought-out migration plan. Sometimes managers approach us after they find themselves stuck after already having done a fair amount of work on migration. In this case, we often have to go back to the formulation of business goals and rebuild their migration strategy from scratch.
Starting from strategy ensures that you can easily navigate the transition and avoid analysis paralysis during later stages. This is especially important as there is a wide variety of choices along the way, starting from whether you opt for private, public, or hybrid cloud infrastructure to choosing among Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service
(PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) models. Planning each phase of the migration from the start gives you direction to make the right choices to arrive at your target and helps you avoid unnecessary spend.
Get control over the stages of cloud migration
Cloud sprawl is another common cloud migration issue. Cloud sprawl means that your organization cannot gain complete centralized visibility and control of all its cloud infrastructure components. If your organization is juggling multiple cloud instances, services, or sometimes even providers, it’s not possible to have full accountability of the resources in use. There are a few preventative steps to help you avoid this situation and implement unified management of all cloud services.
The first step is conducting an IT function audit before the migration. This is necessary in order to understand the roles and business processes that currently exist and what your organization will look like after the migration. Once you have broken the silos between different service groups within your organization and achieved full accountability, the next step is maintaining this clear view during each phase of the cloud migration. In addition, it is useful to implement visible accountability through dashboards so that you manage all cloud services and costs in one place.
Cost of cloud migration
Cloud sprawl often goes hand in hand with exceeding your initial budget: cloud instances keep popping up without a clear, intentional reason and costs start to spiral out of control. To keep your cloud spending in check, you should measure these costs from day one and assign them to specific cost centers within your organization. Measuring your costs and performance on an ongoing basis is essential for assessing the ROI of your cloud migration in order to determine that the migration project was successful.
Cloud security questions
Security and availability concerns are other common cloud migration issues that have to be addressed. To avoid security weak points or downtime during the move, make sure that your IT group has an in-house DevOps engineer with expertise in cloud security or consult with your cloud provider.
Security measures should be naturally embedded in DevOps operations and must include the following:
- Setting security configuration parameters in cloud instances
- Automating security processes
- Building continuous monitoring systems
From the standpoint of infrastructure availability, there are two major concerns: availability at the component level (one specific component or microservice can fail individually) and architecture level (failure of the entire environment). As you get into the cloud, you have to design redundancy and availability in the most critical components.
Training employees on your cloud solutions
One of the most often cited cloud migration failures is neither costs nor security issues but lack of training for your employees. You should be aware that organizing IT functions in the cloud is quite different from the same processes that are run on-premises, like DevOps , Infrastructure as a Code, and automation tools.
Make sure that your staff members are on the same page and have the needed skills, knowledge, and understanding to operate the new infrastructure. The best cloud providers offer team training sessions or video tutorials. Allocating the time for training and certifications should be included in your migration timeline.
Moving to the cloud is not only a challenge but rather an opportunity to make existing business processes more agile and innovative. As the first step, you have to take stock of all the infrastructure components, business processes and in-house expertise at your disposal and build a strategy that encompasses all the needs of your organization on your cloud migration journey.
Triangu can help you to develop and execute the cloud migration strategy that fits your needs and makes the most sense from the standpoint of your business objectives. Based on your actual and target digital maturity levels, our experts customize your migration program for the processes, people, and technologies within your organization. If you are ready to see how Triangu can help you migrate to the cloud at a faster pace and achieve optimization at scale, book a free 2-hour consultation with one of our experts.
Atlassian Launches Private Beta Testing for its Forge Project
In December 2019, Atlassian launched the beta version of Forge Project, a unique serverless platform that comes with security built-in. This initiative aims to solve many problems with managing cloud infrastructure, designing user experience across different platforms, and building DevOps pipelines. As a result, development teams are able to build their own SaaS products without deep expertise in cloud architectures. With hosted infrastructure, Forge UI, and tools to turbocharge your DevOps, Forge is setting a new standard in app development for the cloud.
Key capabilities of Forge
Forge allows building trusted, scalable, and cross-platform cloud apps with the minimum amount of code and abstracts away some of the complexities of cloud-native development. The platform is comprised of three core components:
- hosted infrastructure
For computing and storage, the platform offers serverless FaaS (Function-as-a-Service) model based on AWS Lambda. In essence, Forge wraps the application code and deploys it to Lambda. The major advantage here is that development teams will be able to write functions instead of entire web services and automate infrastructure orchestration. It’s also worth mentioning that as serverless architecture, Forge eliminates the need for an always-running server, replacing it with a FaaS function that responds to HTTP requests via an API gateway.
- Forge UI
Forge engineers have built the platform’s flexible, declarative UI language to help their users define and test user experiences for all platforms at once. Forge also runs the updated versions of helper libraries, such as Atlaskit, that provide out-of-the-box UI components.
- DevOps toolchain
Intuitive and easy-to-use, the Command Line Interface (CLI) tool powers the built-in DevOps toolchain and troubleshooting features of the platform. Atlassian also added a few extras, such as CI/CD tools powered by Bitbucket Pipelines and a built-in set of templates, to make developers’ experience even better.
Extra advantages it brings
The FaaS model based on AWS Lambda is instantly scalable and event-driven, enabling developers to build a system of alerts and notifications. Also, this system is tenant-aware and supports isolated data storage. That means that the function invocation can be tied to a specific customer site, and data leakage across tenants is prevented. This enables automatic assurances for the privacy and security of end-users.
Today, many companies are dealing with masses of user-generated content, personal data, and personally identifiable information. Managing these special types of information requires additional layers of security, as well as specific measures in order to comply with regulations such as GDPR. Forge promises to shoulder the burden of app development and provide built-in GDPR compliance and data residency controls.
Forge is designed to supplement the Atlassian tools and frameworks at the same time as supporting existing integration patterns in Atlassian Connect. With the release of the beta version, it is expected that working with REST APIs and other operations within the ecosystem will be simplified. Finally, developers will be able to stay within the Atlassian cloud from the beginning to end without needing to implement routing between the connector and other frameworks of their choice.
Currently the hosted app platform is available in a closed beta, and we are proud to inform you that Triangu has received an invitation to test out Forge. We are keen to experience the stand-out features of Forge Beta and will keep you up-to-date with our feedback and product updates. Stay tuned!
6 Types of Cloud Migration for Different Workloads
As your organization prepares for cloud migration, it is vital that your IT team maintains a comprehensive view of all infrastructure components and available options for migrating each workload. The better you understand what you’re working with, the easier project planning and execution becomes.
Migrating complex IT systems should be done incrementally. Inventorying your systems and in-use applications is the first step in developing your actionable cloud migration plan. Next, you should identify specific types of cloud migration to be performed with each item.
So, what are the cloud migration types? These are the most commonly used approaches:
These strategies are commonly referred to as “the 6 R’s of cloud migration”. When deciding which “R” to use, prioritize the mission-critical services for optimization and refactoring and tackle the rest of your workloads with a simple lift-and-shift. It also can be useful to start from some lower risk non-critical workloads as a pilot test to help you refine the migration process as you get to the critical infrastructure components.
Let's discuss the operational benefits and business merit of these strategies in detail.
Rehost or lift-and-shift model
Rehosting is the most straightforward cloud migration path. It means that you lift applications, virtual machines, and server operating systems from the current hosting environment to public cloud infrastructure without any changes. It is a low resistance migration methodology that prescribes picking up an application as an image that could be exported via migration tools like VM Import or CloudEndure to a container run on the public cloud.
Choosing lift-and-shift, you should be aware that its quick win comes with a drawback: limited use of cloud efficiencies. Simply rehosting an application workload in the public cloud doesn’t utilize cloud-native features, such as efficient CI/CD automatization, monitoring systems, automated recovery and self-healing, containerized environments, or open-source compatible services. However, you will still be able to reduce efforts spent on system administration and gain some time to refocus technologists on solving business problems and product optimization.
This cloud migration type can also be a starting point for large scale optimization projects when organizations are looking to shift their on-premise infrastructure in a short period of time. For example, your data center lease expires and you need quick rehosting of your current workloads. Once these workloads are in the cloud, further optimizations of the underlying codebase will be easier to accomplish.
Re-platform, or lift-and-optimize
Replatforming involves certain optimizations to the operating system, changes in the API of the applications, and middleware upgrade as you do standard lift-and-shift. As a result, you can leverage more cloud benefits, reshape the sourcing environment and make it compatible with the cloud, fine-tune the application functionality, and avoid post-migration work.
Before implementing some product enhancements, it is important to keep in mind that the underlying codebase will be changed. This means that even insignificant changes require thorough retesting of your application performance. Once you have implemented the planned adjustments and up-versioning, the application can be moved to the optimized platform and cloud servers.
The re-platforming strategy is somewhere in between simple lift-and-shift and a more profound re-architecture of the application. Thus, the alterations in the codebase are more likely to be minor and are not supposed to change the core app functionality. For example, you may want to add new features or replace the application components. Although these changes don’t significantly alter your project, you can improve InfoSec posture and get feature and tooling enhancements.
Repurchase, or drop-and-shop
In this strategy, you change the proprietary application in use for the new cloud-based platform or service. Often, that means that you drop the existing license agreement (or it expires) and go for a new platform or service in its place. For example, you may choose to switch from your legacy CRM system to a new SaaS CRM that meets your organization’s requirements better.
Refactor, or re-architect
This approach is driven by a strong desire to improve your product and represents the opposite of lift-and-shift migration. It is assumed that a specific business target will be set from the beginning, e.g. in terms of availability or reliability of the application performance. Sometimes, that means that you have to re-engineer your application logic completely and develop the cloud-native version from scratch.
Opting for this cloud migration model, you should take into account that it may require more resources due to the increased complexity of its implementation. On the other hand, it allows the full use of cloud-native benefits, such as disaster recovery or containerization of the application environment. In the long run, refactoring can be more cost-efficient because these additional features have been added.
One of the most common examples of refactoring is shifting a mainframe monolithic application to microservices-based infrastructure in the cloud. We’ve laid out the reasoning behind this strategy, what advantages it can bring, key steps, and the needed technology stack in Tabulate’s success story.
Retain, or hybrid model
Some components of your IT infrastructure may be retained on your legacy infrastructure. An organization may want to keep some stand-alone workloads and databases due to security issues or other constraints. For example, you may have to comply with regulatory requirements governing the locations in which certain information is stored. When categorizing the workload for this type of migration, you create a hybrid infrastructure whereby some workloads are hosted in the cloud and some workloads are retained on-premise.
For many complex applications and environments, some infrastructure components can be easily turned off without any decrease in productivity or value loss for the end consumers. This is achieved by decommissioning or archiving unneeded parts while replacing their functionalities through other services and components. As a result, you can substantially reduce the complexity of your computing, architecture, storage, licensing, and backup, making your infrastructure leaner.
When evaluating which of the “6 R’s” is right for your organization’s migration needs, keep in mind that every cloud migration is unique. The above-mentioned types of cloud migration are not ready-made solutions for every organization. These options should serve as a basis from which to develop the final strategy, which will be tailored to your specific business needs. To develop a successful migration strategy , we recommend looking at the migration process from an application-centric view rather than an infrastructure-centric one.
Cloud migration is a tall order: your migration strategy should be robust and it should help achieve key business objectives, all while being executed in Agile sprints that allow you to incorporate ongoing feedback. Here at Triangu, we help our clients kickstart their migration projects without losing focus on their end-point objectives and business continuity. To learn how Triangu can help you hit the ground running in your migration, schedule a free 2-hour consultation with one of our experts to get feedback on your project.
Best Practices for Lift-and-Shift Migration
The Lift-and-Shift method of data migration is a simple and worthwhile process that has proven to be beneficial for companies that have chosen to utilise it. However, there are a few nuances that you should know about before you begin.
After a decade of technological innovation allowing businesses to thrive in the virtual sphere, 2020 brings even more competition and ideas for innovation. One of the continued problems that businesses face is what to do with their data. Server overloading, maintenance costs, security vulnerabilities and a lack of stable and agile data retrieval all affect a company’s ability to deliver high quality service to clients. An emerging solution that is being employed by big name companies such as Netflix and Expedia are to move and host their data on the cloud. This post will explain the Lift-and-Shift method; an extremely effective and user-friendly approach to migrating all your valuable data to a secure cloud-based storage container.
Reasons for Switching to Cloud-Based Data Storage
With the amount of data exponentially increasing every year, the self-hosting of data in physical centres is becoming more difficult to manage. As the complexity of data increases, many companies are switching to the emerging solution of cloud-based data storage. This switch allows companies to eliminate the problems involved with physical data storage while still maintaining the performance and security that clients and data analysts expect.
Cloud based data centres allow for increased security through hardware accelerated data encryption and reduce the total cost of operations due to a pay-per-use billing system. They also allow clients to access data at any time with a reduced risk of server overloading, and maintain business continuity with a streamlined data backup and recovery system.
Companies will be looking to make this change as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. The easiest way to migrate and rehost already existing data to a cloud solution without having to rebuild, replace or refactor is through the lift-and-shift method.
What is Lift-and-Shift?
Common strategies of physical data to cloud migration involve the modification or complete removal of the current application infrastructure that enables the safe storage of a company’s data; however, in this section we are going to talk about a different strategy that involves rehosting. Rehosting does not require the modification or deletion of existing data structures, it simply involves replicating your data in a different environment without changing the existing architecture. The most effective and popular method for rehosting is known as Lift-and-Shift.
With the Lift-and-Shift method, the current system infrastructure is seamlessly duplicated in the cloud, with minimal changes in functionality. This allows for a less expensive and smoother transition with more flexibility and fewer modifications.
Ease of Implementation
The lift and shift method of cloud migration is extremely appealing to companies, especially ones that may not be as technologically knowledgeable on the subject of big data, due to the ease of transition from on-premise hosting to cloud-based hosting. The Lift-and-Shift migration involves making minimal to no changes to the already existing application infrastructure.
Information is easily lifted from the existing environment and shifted in its entirety to the new cloud-based hosting environment. This strategy allows for greater flexibility and a wider range of services.
Selecting a Cloud Service Provider
Before you begin to migrate your data, it is important to select an appropriate cloud service provider, the provider will be responsible for hosting all your replicated system infrastructure and data.
Amazon Web Services (often shortened to AWS) is a common choice for companies that want to use the Lift-and-Shift method. AWS makes it easy to migrate large amounts of data while maintaining the current application infrastructure and also providing the cloud-based benefits of flexibility, agility, scalability and security..
Things to Consider Before Utilising Lift-and-Shift
Before we begin implementing the Lift-and-Shift method we must analyse the main considerations involved when migrating to a cloud storage solution. The three key considerations in a Lift-and-Shift migration are:
It is important to check that the cloud provider you select is capable of hosting the amount and type of data that you wish to migrate. As lifting and shifting does not require any reformatting of the data, it is easy to test for compatibility with the destination cloud service. Make sure that the cloud hosting service provides enough storage to handle the volume of data that you wish to replicate, has the networking capabilities to ensure that your company can access the data on reasonable speed and latency and finally that the cloud software can handle all types of data you are replicating without errors.
How to Use the Lift-and-Shift Method
Migration to the cloud using the Lift-and-Shift method can be achieved in four simple steps:
Decide which is the best cloud architecture to implement that will be compatible with your current system environment. The primary architecture choice for Lift-and-Shift migrations is called Infrastructure as a Service (often shortened to IaaS). This service will provide all the necessary machine and storage requirements to effectively replicate your data system in the cloud.
Once you have decided on the cloud architecture you can now begin taking data backups of your current system. This will ensure you have secured your data in case the cloud-based storage doesn’t match your previous application structure.
When the destination cloud database is ready, simply restore the backups into the new cloud environment. You will now have an identical copy of your data in the cloud ready to be used.
Finally, monitor and test the efficiency and performance of your new cloud storage environment. After a period of at least two months, if you are satisfied with the results then you may consider retiring the old physical servers and using solely the cloud.
Optimising the Lift-and-Shift Method
The Lift-and-Shift method is very effective and user-friendly but there are a few ways that companies can optimise it to increase the benefits of the data migration.
Firstly, the company should be committed to cloud migration on a long-term scale. Cloud data storage will increase performance and security while reducing costs in the long-term, usually a period of more than twelve months. If implemented for only a short period, the Lift-and-Shift might be costlier than your current physical data environment.
As previously mentioned, one requirement of this method involves checking that your data is compatible with the cloud destination before the hosting platform can begin replicating your current physical data structure in the cloud. To streamline this process and optimise the potential of Lift-and-Shift, it is best that the company’s current physical systems are well documented and not unnecessarily complex.
Finally, it is advantageous to check that the current physical systems are all relatively stable and that any software being used is transferable to a cloud-based environment.
By taking these three factors into consideration companies can optimise and enhance the Lift-and-Shift process.
A Final Word
When considering cloud-based data migration strategies, it is clear that the Lift-and-Shift method is one that has rightfully gained prominence in a technological space that’s crowded with innovative ideas.
As something that is user-friendly, cost-effective, reliable and secure, it has allowed companies to advance their data management efficiency and stay ahead of their competitors while continuing to effectively serve their current clients. If you think this approach fits your needs and would like to know more about building a cloud migration strategy, visit our pillar page.
Getting to the Cloud Faster: 10 Must-Have Elements of a Successful Cloud Migration Plan
A step-by-step process to help your company efficiently switch to cloud-based data hosting and avoid any nasty complications.
With the volume of data continuing to increase at an astonishing rate, many companies are starting to embrace the emerging technology of cloud-based data storage and transitioning their data from physical data centres to their new virtual cloud environment. Despite the numerous benefits, there are some important factors that can determine the efficiency and success of the data migration. Knowing these will make the transition as smooth as possible.
That is why it is crucial to have a detailed migration plan; a guide that will explain and walk you through each step in the process of optimising your company’s data hosting efficiency, and ensuring that you and your company are prepared for the new possibilities and benefits that the cloud provides.
Luckily for you, we will explain all the steps involved in this process and help you make a smooth and stress-free transition, while unlocking the full potential of your new cloud storage environment.
Cost Effectiveness and Return on Investment
The financial aspect of all business strategies is often the deciding factor in whether to implement the strategy or find a more cost effective alternative. This is why before we begin devising our plan, we will discuss the cost effectiveness of migrating data to the cloud and also how it can impact long-term profitability and Return on Investment (ROI).
With an increase in the volume of data being produced, running a traditional physical storage infrastructure can result in increased maintenance costs. The cost of repairing and debugging server errors, physical server damage, updating and replacing physical storage units, all impact the financial bottom line.
Relocating your storage needs to a cloud storage environment eliminates all these unnecessary expenses. Cloud computing provides access to the cost saving features of software agility, lower operational and maintenance costs, decreased power usage and carbon footprint, and the utilization of cloud optimised hardware that offers increased security, error free data backup, a more efficient networking capacity and an improved scalable infrastructure.
A commitment to transitioning to a cloud-based data storage solution is ideal for companies that wish to reduce the current costs of hosting physical servers and also increase their long-term profit margin and Return on Investment.
Building a Checklist
Before we formulate a plan, we must first build a checklist of all the fundamental processes involved in the migration. The checklist will state the 10 key topics that will help us structure our plan in a simple and easy to follow order, so that we can make our migration quick, easy and error free.
Creating a Migration Plan
Now that we have a checklist of important factors, you can begin to create a data migration plan. After analysing in detail each process in the checklist, you will be able to make an informed decision about which option is most suitable for your company’s specific needs.The checklist is structured in order to help you visualise the migration process from start to finish. As you progress through each section of the checklist, you will be able to add your plan and customise if you wish.Your detailed migration plan will suit the specific requirements of your company, allowing you to utilise the full potential of your new cloud storage solution.
Assigning the Lead Cloud-Migration Architect
The entire process of making the transition from on-premise based data hosting to the cloud can be complex if you haven’t done anything like this before, so, the organisation and oversight of this process from start to finish is best handled by a lead cloud-migration architect.
The architect should have extensive knowledge of cloud computing and of the current existing application infrastructure, as they will be responsible for the planning and delivery of all aspects of the migration process. These responsibilities will include selecting the method of cloud migration and its scope, choosing the cloud service provider, setting up and testing key performance indicators, deciding the order of component migration, ensuring that all software is properly licensed and compatible with the destination cloud environment, refactoring (modifying) the already existing code and infrastructure, organising the switching of production and finally reviewing the migration to resolve possible errors and optimising the new system along the way.
The lead migration architect will not be working alone, but they will be the main decision maker in all aspects of the transition. This is why it is crucial to choose someone who has extensive knowledge of both the migration of large volumes of data and the intricacies of cloud-based data hosting.
Selecting the Type of Cloud Migration
In this section there are two important decisions to consider when migrating large amounts of data; the level of cloud integration and the use of single-cloud or multi-cloud hosting.
When discussing cloud integration there are two levels, deep cloud integration and shallow cloud integration.
Shallow cloud integration is the simpler of the two as it does not require any refactoring or modification of the existing code or infrastructure. This level of integration is often referred to as lift-and-shift, as you simply “lift” the current data storage environment and “shift” it to the new cloud-based storage environment. Shallow cloud integration is an appealing choice for companies that already have an efficient database infrastructure that does not need modification, and for companies that are inexperienced with cloud computing and want the process to be as simple as possible. Although more straight-forward than deep cloud integration, this method will still allow you to benefit from all the new features of the integrated cloud database.
Deep cloud integration is more complex and requires the refactoring and modification of the current physical infrastructure before the data is migrated to the cloud. This level is more appealing for companies that plan to migrate to the cloud as a long-term commitment, due to the fact that it can be more cost effective and flexible than keeping the existing application and infrastructure.
It is now important to discuss whether your company will implement a single or multi- cloud hosting system. Both have their own unique benefits and complications which is why you should be well informed about the differences in each before making a decision.
Single-cloud hosting is the less complex option. Here, you simply migrate your data to the chosen provider’s cloud storage database and then begin optimising the system to capitalise on the new benefits of scalability, agility and security that the cloud provides. All the while, you can continue to efficiently serve your client base. The potential complications involved with single-cloud hosting are that you will experience vendor lock-in (being unable to use another vendor), and the resulting switch to a new cloud service provider if desired, can be as complex as the initial migration.
Multi-cloud hosting allows you to benefit from multiple cloud services and features from different providers. The common advantages of this system are that you can avoid vendor lock-in, the minimisation of data loss and local cloud failure. It allows you to acquire exclusive features from one vendor to meet a specific requirement and increase flexibility and agility. In contrast to single-cloud hosting, multi-cloud hosting can be problematic, as the management and organisation of the cloud database is split among multiple hosts.
The level of integration and the type of cloud hosting that your company adopts are major decisions that influence every other factor in the migration process. Therefore, it is necessary that you and the lead migration architect carefully analyse the specific needs and requirements of the company and select the option that will result in the most successful and efficient system.
Choosing a Cloud Service Provider
Selecting a cloud service provider is an important decision, as the provider will be responsible for the hosting and maintenance of all your migrated data that is situated in the new cloud storage container.
Amazon Web Services (often shortened to AWS) is a highly-trusted provider as they are able to accommodate all levels of cloud integration and are capable of hosting and maintain large volumes of data, giving you fast and reliable access to your cloud database.
Other cloud vendors such as Azure and Oracle offer a similar level of capability and functionality as AWS. If implementing a multi-cloud system then you have the option of acquiring the services of multiple providers.
If you are unsure of which provider to select, then simply outline the requirements of your company’s migration plan and check to make sure that the cloud service provider is capable of meeting them.
Baselines and Key Performance Indicators
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are performance measurements that will help test whether the migration process is successfully meeting expectations. These metrics are useful components of successful migrations as they can often illuminate the specific area where complications are occurring. The most common Key Performance Indicators cover the three most important parts of the database; User-interface, application performance and database infrastructure.
Potential KPIs for each category:
- Duration of page load time
- Lag and delay
- Length of session and uptime
- Error frequency
- Application Performance Index
- Output and throughput
- Percentage of CPU usage
- Network latency, performance and availability
- Memory usage and allocation
The collection of data and metrics for an allotted length of time during the period of pre-migration is known as establishing baselines, this is useful as we can compare these metrics to the results of our Key Performance Indicators and determine whether the post-migration results are consistent with our expectations.
Baselines and Key Performance Indicators are not absolutely essential in the migration process; however, they are highly recommended, as they are able to quickly and accurately diagnose any error that occurs during the transition. Moreover, they can illustrate whether the new cloud environment is performing more efficiently than the previous physical data hosting system.
Selective Component Migration
It is important to decide whether you wish to migrate your entire application at once or in phases. If you are performing a shallow cloud lift-and-shift integration, the migration will most likely be done all at once. However, if you have chosen a different migration method that requires refactoring, then you will be tasked with selecting which components and at what time to migrate them to the cloud.
Sometimes the order of components is already chosen for you as certain types of application software have dependencies that need to be migrated and implemented at the same time. We will discuss these software dependencies in more detail in the next section but for now, make sure that you are aware of any that exist in your current application. They may determine the order in which they are migrated.
Software Compatibility Check
For some pieces of software to run effectively, they may sometimes rely on other software. These other pieces of software are known as dependencies. When selecting your cloud service provider and the order of component migration, it is important to check that all software dependencies are capable of being hosted in the destination cloud.
When performing either shallow or deep cloud integration, to reduce errors and achieve a successful migration, it is vital to ensure that all data types and all essential software components are compatible with the new cloud infrastructure.This may also include re-licensing the already existing software, or if you are refactoring, obtaining entirely new software that will handle any dependencies and allow for complete functionality in the cloud.
Refactoring and Modifying
After you have completed the software compatibility check, you can begin refactoring and modifying the existing infrastructure.
These modifications may include:
- Refactoring the application to ensure that existing software will be functional in the cloud
- Removing existing code and features that will be made redundant after the migration
- Refactoring existing software to remove complex dependencies and ease the process of component migration
- Refactoring the existing infrastructure to improve scalability and long-term functionality.
Refactoring is a potentially continuous process that can still be performed after the migration has already taken place. Refactoring can take place when you are already set up in the cloud to optimise the infrastructure and performance of your application.
To achieve the most successful data migration it is important that your customers and client-base are not negatively affected by the transition. When switching over production from the current physical host to the cloud host, you have two options:
- Retire the old system and service all customers using the new cloud system in one transition
- Keep the old system running but slowly start servicing customers in phases on the new cloud system, while moving towards the inevitable retirement of the old system.
Both are viable options that can be efficiently implemented, therefore the choice of which option to apply must be made according to the factors of your custom migration plan. These factors are usually the capabilities of your new cloud system, the demands of your client base and the competency of your company’s employees to properly learn and administer the new cloud database.
Review and Optimisation
By the time you get to this stage you can congratulate yourself, the daunting process of migrating your data is complete and you have successfully transitioned your company into the exciting world of cloud computing.
Before you finish, however, there are a few more things you can do to optimise your system and better prepare your cloud environment for long-term functionality.
When discussing how to optimise resource allocation, the cloud works best when the infrastructure allows for dynamic, as opposed to static allocation. If this change has not been made automatically then consider switching to dynamic resource allocation, which can allow for faster speed, reduced risk of overloading and overall greater efficiency.
If the cloud infrastructure is not performing to your desired standard, consider going through the checklist again and formulating a different plan that may improve the current system and optimise the potential of the cloud. You most likely will not have to perform the migration again and can simply refactor the already existing cloud application until it is performing at an appropriate capacity.
If your company is committed to utilising cloud-based data storage for the foreseeable future, it would greatly benefit you to have a sound knowledge of other aspects of cloud computing apart from just migration, and to also understand its relationship with big data.
Each section of the checklist has been explained and your migration plan should now be detailed and thorough. Equipped with this newfound knowledge of all the information covered in this guide, it should be relatively straight-forward and easy to implement.
The vast majority of business owners aim to cut spending with their migration projects, due to the well documented cost-efficiency of cloud infrastructures. However, moving into the cloud rashly, without proper planning, control and optimisation, might deter companies from achieving the sought-after cost benefits of the cloud.
We hope that this guide has shown you that performing efficient migration to the cloud is well-achievable for anyone who has the patience and foresight to plan and monitor closely.
If you found this post helpful or you wish to read more about cloud technology then click here to visit our pillar page. Best of luck with all your cloud-based projects