Take it or leave it. Those are the two choices operators and enterprise organizations are typically presented when weighing a move to the cloud. No SLAs. No guaranteed cost savings. No promise of a seamless migration of apps or services. Or that the move will be successful at all.
Even with strong incentives on both sides of cloud deals, or systems integrators eager to lend a helping hand, a significant portion of migrations don’t go as expected. Today, one-third of cloud migrations fail, according to IT firm Unisys.
Yet, the allure of potential spend reductions, improved performance and less headaches continues to make the cloud a destination of choice for companies eager to shed management responsibilities for increasingly complex infrastructure.
The move to the cloud doesn’t have to be a leap of faith. With the right strategy, it is possible to methodically plan migrations so that you know exactly what experience awaits you on the other side.
Cloud migration success means looking – and learning – before you leap
Eyes wide open. That’s how every cloud migration must be approached if success is to be achieved. That means understanding your options and conducting dry runs to determine potential outcomes. It’s about moving methodically. Progressively tackling small pieces of the workload. Market by market. App by app. Taking what you learned and running more simulations until you get it right.
Organizations have four primary paths when migrating to the cloud:
Lift and shift. Move an existing app to the cloud with no modifications. Typically, there will be a performance decrease and no real accompanying cloud-related benefits. But infrastructure maintenance headaches go away.
Create a virtual wraparound. Improves accessibility by making the app appear native to the cloud infrastructure, though performance still relies on underlying hardware. This approach represents an improvement over lift and shift but, ultimately, is merely a band-aid.
Deploy as a true virtual machine. Modifications are made to the app itself, requiring significantly more effort, but benefits materialize in the form of scalability and flexibility as there is no dependence on underlying hardware.
Rewrite as a cloud native application. The most expensive and time-consuming approach also unleashes the full power of the cloud. Performance, availability and accessibility all get a boost, provided the migration was planned properly and tested in advance.
As organizations progress through each approach, cost efficiency, performance and availability improve, while dependency on ancillary software and hardware needed to support the application decreases.
Validation must precede migration
Organizations must ask themselves three fundamental questions as they consider a cloud migration: Can these apps even be migrated? If so, which path should they take? What should performance look like in the target environment?
Comprehensive validation is ultimately the common facilitating denominator amongst successful approaches. How are you determining the current app workload across performance, consumption and infrastructure requirements, and how does it perform in peak and off-peak scenarios?
Put into practice, you may ask “what’s the impact if I simply go with a lift and shift approach?” Is it enough to get the job done or do I have to go further? If you go with a virtual wraparound approach, perhaps you’ll have less flexibility, but maybe that’s okay because it buys you time before a more proper upgrade needs to be conducted. Maybe you’ll find one approach results in performance decreases in certain environments – can these decreases be tolerated as a tradeoff for cost savings?
Spirent’s work with customers on this front has been based on capturing workload profiles for a range of applications across storage loads, compute loads, networking parameters and more. We get to the heart of what’s consuming resources, what kind of latency is introduced, how much jitter can be managed, what volume of traffic is being produced, and much more. By dissecting the application and its behavior, it can be emulated to perform a true comparison between the old and target environments.
Armed with a multitude of data points, only then can you make sound business decisions about the best path to the cloud for each of the apps that must be migrated. Where are the cost savings? Where are the performance boosts? What will give you trouble but is still worth the effort?
Fly blind into a cloud migration and your vision will go blurry trying to make sense of things when you get there. Systematically plan every step of the journey and success will be ready to greet you when you reach your final destination.
To learn more, read our eBook Assuring the Promise of Hybrid Cloud Services.