By now, most people know the benefits of migrating to the cloud. The benefits are too attractive not to – at least – evaluate migrating to the cloud. From my perspective, here are some of the key benefits:
- Flexibility in dealing with growth or fluctuating demands,
- Disaster recovery,
- automatic software updates,
- being Capital-expenditure Free,
- ability to work from anywhere,
- and increased competitiveness, particularly for smaller companies that make lack large capital funds
I have spent the last 4 years at Corent Technology working with the major cloud providers , global and regional system integrators, and enterprise customers. I have learned a lot by watching successful initiatives and a few failed ones, and want to share a summary of my learnings with you.
My advice to CIOs, and CTOs that want to start their cloud journey
Learn from experts. Cloud providers, System Integrators and some CIOs and CTOs have some great material on the subject on cloud migration. Read them and learn from them. Some of my favorites include:
- Article by Jim Dubois, former CIO of Microsoft
- Microsoft Cloud Migration Playbook
- AWS Prescriptive Guidance for Application Migration
Do not do it yourself. If you are a CIO or CTO, and your team does not have sufficient experience in cloud migration, use an experienced system integrator to help you plan your journey, and do at least the first few phases of the migration with them. The money you save on a competent System Integrator will save you lots of time, money and aggravation. You can find qualified System integrators by asking the cloud providers to recommend system integrators or looking for some case studies. Most cloud providers list their qualified System Integrators somewhere on their web page. Select a System Integrator that uses a proven migration tool and uses automation and not manual resources to do most of the work. Also, select a System Integrator that specializes in your specific area. As an example, if you are planning a Hybrid Cloud Migration, consider the consulting arm of a hardware vendor, such as HPE PointNext that knows about cloud Migration, Azure Stack, and also has expertise in HPE Hardware
Have a plan, but do not spend a lot of time to plan. Your first plan will keep on getting adjusted based on your learnings. When developing your plan keep in mind the following:
- Not everything needs to move to the cloud. Do an inventory, and identify what can be retired now, or retired in the near future. Exclude those items from your cloud migration plan
- Find a few applications with lower regulatory and security risks, and no or few integrations to other applications, and do a small POC first. Learn from your mistakes.
- SaaSify your business applications
- If you are using a packaged application that offer a SaaS version, and you have not modified the application, migrate to the SaaS version of the application
- If you have home grown application, or a package application that you have modified, then you should still consider SaaSifying the application
- Reprogramming an application to make it SaaS-enabled is expensive and time consuming and may take longer than it did to develop the actual application.
- Consider using Corent SurPaaS® SaaSify to rapidly SaaS-enable your application without any program and code changes
Lift and Shift is not the migration plan
- My colleague, Jim Dubois, the former CIO of Microsoft, and the person in charge of the Microsoft internal Azure Journey, shared a few wise words with me:
- A lot of people believe lift and shift is the first step, but it is actually one of the least efficient ways to use cloud providers so stopping there is disservice to everyone. It is a first step of a plan where it cannot be avoided.
- Ideally refactor applications into PaaS, Containers and FaaS
- Continue to optimize once you migrate.
- If you must start with Lift and Shift, due to some schedule constraints, make sure you have a plan to move beyond lift and shift, to take advantage of PaaS, FaaS, Containers and other refactoring capabilities.
Most companies do not need an elaborate multi-cloud approach. A multi-cloud approach increases your migration and operation costs, but the benefits may not always justify the costs. At the minimum you must have a proven and tested test plan to move quickly from one cloud to the other, and use containers when possible to simplify such a move. Automated tools can make such migrations far easier. There may be many reasons why you may choose to have more than one cloud provider or must move from your cloud to another
- Commercial reason – Cloud providers may change their pricing or offer incentives to migrate to them. A cloud provider that is the most commercially attractive option for you today, may not be the best in the future.
- Feature Optimization – Each cloud provider may offer services than are better than others. By having multi cloud capability, you can choose the provider that provides the best features for your application(s)
- Reliability – While the major commercials are extremely reliable, having the ability to migrate from one cloud to another, or having back up sites, will give you additional reliability in case of a disaster.
- Strategic/Competitive reasons – Cloud providers belong to major enterprises, and your cloud provider may become your biggest competitors. If that happens, you may want to find a quick way to stop funding your competitor.
Use automated tools to help you plan your journey beyond Lift and Shift
- SurPaaS Assessment tool Corent Technology’s SurPaas provides a complete roadmap and provides a listing of optimization options, PaaS services, and Containerization options
Use automated tools to optimize the topology, integrate with PaaS services, and containerize. While there are many tools available for Lift and Shift, I am aware of only a few tools that can do automated refactoring
- Automated PaaS Integration
- Automated Containerization
- One Click PaaS integration and Containerization
My advice to System Integrators
Learn from experts. Some of the cloud providers provide excellent playbooks for starting a cloud or running a cloud migration practice. Read them! Below is one great example Microsoft Playbook for building a Cloud Migration practice
Stay up to date by attending key conferences. Below are two of the must attend if you want to be in the cloud business. By the way, because of Covid-19 Microsoft Inspire is virtual and free this year, and I predict it will be so going forward.
- Microsoft Inspire A must attend for anyone in the cloud industry
- AWS Reinvent Another must attend event
- General Dynamics IT Remerge The GDIT annual event, an excellent event for those in the public sector
- Ingram Micro Cloud Summit The Ingram Cloud Summit, an excellent event for those targeting small to medium customers.
Use commercial tools. You are in the System Integration business, let ISVs develop the migration tools. The cloud providers offer free tools for smaller and more basic migration features, and there are some excellent commercial tools available. Look at the list below
Do not let your customers stop at Lift and Shift. If you do that, you have done the customer, the cloud provider and yourselves a disfavor by creating situation where you will have a dissatisfied customer in about a year.
My advice to ISVs
SaaSify your application. SaaSifying your application will provide many benefits
- Lowers your cost by as much as 80-90%
- Improves your time to market for new features
- Provides you better information about how your customers use of your application
- Removes the risk of customers being on unpatched versions
If your application is already SaaSified, ensure you are taking advantage of all potential SaaS functionalities, such as metering and usage based billing to complement one-size fits all billing
As mentioned previously, Corent Technology offers a great tool for automatic and rapid SaaSification without any programming or code changes
Consider posting your application on marketplaces such as Azure or AWS Marketplaces. This will create a brand-new channel for selling your application. The manual process for publishing on marketplaces can be cumbersome, and you should consider using one of the commercial tools that automate the process
Post migration advice to CIOs, MSPs, and ISVs
Optimization is an ongoing need, and you must have a tool and process in place
Use one of great commercial tools out there. Usually, their cost is a small fraction of the money they save you
Use a tool that focuses not just on the Infrastructure layer, but also the application layer
- SurPaaS Continuo- Continuous Optimization
- SurPaaS Optimo – Infrastructure Optimization
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