As organisations continue to step up the pace of migration to the cloud, many find themselves in the situation of having to bridge the gap between their physical and cloud infrastructures. This gives birth to new challenges. In particular, IT has applications it regards as critical but lines of business have different application requirements that they regard as equally critical. As a result, IT often ends up becoming overloaded with requests. As these organisations attempt to satisfy demand with more resources, this can lead to over-provisioning of cloud infrastructure resulting in runaway costs.
As more workloads get moved to the cloud, IT management must evolve and adopt a new approach to delivering infrastructure, applications and end-user access. Indeed, IT needs to remove its attachment to physical infrastructure and start to present themselves as a service providing internal customers with access to flexible resources on-demand to support digital business initiatives. That however is easier said than done and for many migrating their physical environment into the cloud is extremely daunting.
The elephant in the server room
In our experience, a good way to begin cloud migration is to use cloud for net new workloads. By running new and often non-mission-critical workloads in the cloud, the operational team can grow accustomed to managing the cloud and understanding performance metrics, and even gain confidence by estimating costs.
Being able to slowly move workloads to the cloud will help acclimatise to the new way of working and ensure that IT understands the environment that it is working in, before migrating major workloads.
We often get asked what type of applications organisations should move to the cloud. This much depends on the organisation, but our advice is to take an inventory of your data and applications, and then decide which applications it is most important to host in the cloud.
You need to assess and tier according to business criticality, considering how much of your environment is virtual and how much is physical, and then identify any critical components, such as specific networking requirements or physical systems. A lack of knowledge and visibility of what assets organisations have and are using is a common challenge for companies due to the complexity of IT infrastructure, so understanding what you have before you consider what to move is really important.
In many cases, migrating virtual and less mission-critical applications first feels like the swiftest path to initial success. However, understanding the full range of applications you’re ultimately migrating will help you select a provider best positioned to address your needs. Using cloud-based disaster recovery services (DR) is also a good way to start out and become comfortable with cloud operations – particularly if your cloud service provider enables self-service DR management and testing.
Mind the gap
Physical systems are often the most trying when migrating to the cloud. They are usually the remainders of an older time and part of the IT environment because they are necessary and critical to business operations. There are, however, instances when moving these legacy systems to the cloud is beneficial to the business.
Alongside this, moving workloads to the cloud can mean losing visibility into performance metrics, long term history, leaving gaps and lack of cost visibility.
This can greatly increase the burden of managing your cloud workloads and introduce some fear of billing, costs and performance.
While migration to cloud is considered to have low set up costs, the ongoing management is equally critical to your cloud decision. Making sure that you work with your cloud provider to maintain the transparency and visibility of these systems is important to keep the business costs and IT budget running as normal.
Your cloud service provider should be providing support and training to help ease cloud migration. Companies considering cloud need advisory and architecture advice and services to help them through this transition. However, many providers fall short on the basic introduction and support processes they offer to customers as part of cloud deployments.
You should ensure that you understand the levels of ongoing training and customer support for your cloud offering. This goes beyond understanding self-help, knowledge based or message boards. Make sure that you understand the additional costs and the service level agreements that you are agreeing. Equally, as you look to grow your cloud services, look for a provider that provides support over the phone.
In summary, cloud-based applications offer many benefits, including the ability to scale IT resources when needed, quickly launch new apps and ensure a high level of performance at all times – not to mention, if you have a DR programme in place, keeping the business running if disaster strikes. Having applications in the cloud provides a stable and scalable infrastructure on demand and provides IT employees with the freedom to focus on more strategic initiatives that drive digital transformation across the business.
Monica Brink is director, EMEA warketing at iland Cloud Infrastructure