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There is simply no getting around it. Change is upon us. The great cloud migration is here.

The costs of maintaining on-premise computing infrastructure is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to justify and, by 2019, it’s expected that 50% of enterprises will be in the cloud. But such migrations come with plenty of complications.

Migrating in-house workloads to a cloud environment is a daunting and complex maneuver, from both a technical and operational standpoint. Efficiency is key, as it is way too easy to waste money on a poorly configured cloud.

Cloud migration considerations: The most important factor to consider during a cloud migration is that your cloud solutions align with your business requirements. There are as many different types of cloud architectures as there are businesses using them, and it can be very expensive to redesign your deployment.

As with all complex business projects, there are some good and some not-so-good ways of managing a cloud migration. Come along with me as we discuss some best practices for cloud migration processes.


Planning Your Cloud Migration

Planning your migration is by far the most important part of the process because it is here where you decide the type of cloud infrastructure you need. This will be based on several factors, including:

• What needs to be moved?
• Who will be affected?
• Industry-specific security and compliance requirements
• Existing hardware
• Apps and services required
• Network bandwidth required
• Optimum topology
• Redundancy
• Budget

Probably the biggest decision you will make will be whether to migrate fully into one public cloud (AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, etc.) or create a hybrid deployment from a mixture of public clouds, private clouds, or a combination of the two.

The best plans always include a comprehensive data audit and management strategy. Once you know exactly where every bit and byte of data currently enters and exits your business, you can make watertight plans to shepherd that data into a secure cloud environment.

You will also need to plan out a suitable timeframe for the migration (e.g. not in the middle of your busiest weeks/months) and have a disaster recovery/business continuity plan in place to cover every eventuality.


Cloud Migration Process

Sometimes, cloud migration is thought of as one single process (like birds migrating en masse between hemispheres). But this isn’t Planet Earth on the Discovery Channel, people. It’s more appropriate to treat cloud migration as a stage-by-stage process, with some business functions migrating earlier than others. And, some workloads may not even be suitable for cloud migration at all.

Start your migration process by moving whichever functions are most the 'cloud-ready’ first. They should contain minimal sensitive data, be relatively easy to move into a cloud environment and provide measurable efficiency savings. This will give you and your stakeholders some early successes to build upon and also motivate you to complete your move. During the early phase of app migration, focus heavily on obtaining feedback, as this will help you to best manage more mission-critical migrations.

A popular first choice for cloud migration is analytics, as no applications require movement, yet the results are immediately appreciable because many businesses currently struggle to make sense of the vast amounts of data they are collecting in their on-premise data warehouse. Once the analytics migration is complete, you can then start training your analysts and data scientists on how to access and utilize the data.

Piecemeal migration will also help you to align internal processes and staff training while helping everybody feel more comfortable with the changes ahead.

Important note: If your plan is to migrate fully into one of the big public clouds, there are direct connect services (AWS Direct Connect, Azure Express Route, Google Cloud Interconnect) which will streamline the entire migration process for you.


Optimizing the Cloud

Once your workloads are in the cloud, there is a lot of fine-tuning you can do to optimize performance and increase the agility and efficiency of your deployment. In other words, this is the part where you can configure your cloud services to more accurately address your needs.

‘Orchestration management’ is a key phrase which you should become familiar with, if you aren’t already. This is the process by which you can manage your VMs to avoid resource wastage and take advantage of any opportunities to increase efficiency.

Orchestration allows your DevOps teams to automate the creation of instances using pre-built templates, speeding up the creation and testing of apps and ensuring resources are fully decommissioned when not needed.

For predictable workloads using public cloud architecture, you will almost certainly want to take advantage of Reserved Instances (RIs), as these can substantially cut your operating costs. AWS, Azure and IBM Cloud offer RIs, while Google Cloud Platform terms its equivalent a “Committed Use Discount.”


Securing Your Assets

Security should always be an ongoing priority, but even more so now under the strict new data protection legislation, which imposes severe penalties on non-compliant business.

Good news is, all of the big public cloud providers are already very secure and offer a wide range of security services which can be deployed and configured to fulfill your compliance requirements. They also provide white papers and other information to help guide you.

The ultimate responsibility of security remains with you, however, so it is of paramount importance that you have adequate threat detection and response services, as well as the ability to mitigate or prevent DDoS attacks.

Alongside security, your cloud architecture will also need to be able to respond quickly to instance failures. Although redundancy is built into the software and applications themselves, these still have to be configured and optimized to recognize performance issues and respond appropriately.

The Role of Shamrock Consulting

Once you decide that you’re ready to join the thousands of other companies beginning their migration to the cloud, a top consideration should be choosing an experienced and reliable partner to help you with your planning, migration and security processes.

Shamrock Consulting Group has helped dozens of mid to large enterprises migrate to the cloud successfully, and we provide a robust suite of cloud consulting services focused on cloud cost reduction, cloud management software and more.

Shamrock’s cloud experts have years of experience helping our clients create and execute private, public and hybrid cloud deployments. We’ve partnered with all four of the major public cloud providers (AWS, Azure, GCP, IBM) to offer direct connects via their respective on-ramps at the guaranteed best price. We were also first to market offering 100G direct connects into AWS Direct Connect and Google Cloud Interconnect.

Ben Ferguson

Ben Ferguson

Ben Ferguson is the Vice President and Senior Network Architect for Shamrock Consulting Group, an industry leader in digital transformation solutions. Since his departure from Biochemical research in 2004, Ben has built core competencies around cloud direct connects and cloud cost reduction, enterprise wide area network architecture, high density data center deployments, cybersecurity and Voice over IP telephony. Ben has designed hundreds of complex networks for some of the largest companies in the world and he’s helped Shamrock become a top partner of the 3 largest public cloud platforms for AWS, Azure and GCP consulting. When he takes the occasional break from designing networks, he enjoys surfing, golf, working out, trying new restaurants and spending time with his wife, Linsey, his son, Weston and his dog, Hamilton.

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