Updated: January 28, 2023. Editor's Note: Daven's Q&A still rings true, but we've updated some outdated statistics and included additional resources at the end for those interested in learning more about cloud migrations.
In the IT world where things seem to change every day, the cloud should be old news by now. After all, it was way back in 1996 when a group of technology executives at Compaq Computer started referring to the future of the internet as cloud computing.
More than two decades later the cloud is still a disrupter, and the market for it shows no sign of slowing down. According to Statista, a leading provider of market and consumer data, the public cloud services market is expected to reach around $525.6 billion in 2023 with market volume growing to an expected $881.8 billion by 2027.
Much of that growth will be derived from cloud migrations. This blog features a Q&A with US Signal's Daven Winans, Vice President of Engineering, on some of the main considerations to help ensure a successful cloud migration.
Are there any issues that US Signal commonly sees that organizations should be aware of as they plan their cloud migrations?
US Signal‘s Professional Services team has compiled as a list of some very specific technical hurdles — and mitigation strategies for them — that seems to grow with each migration performed.
Some of the issues that are generally applicable to all customers include:
Performance in the cloud
One of the use cases for moving to any virtualization platform is the ability to oversubscribe or overcommit to resources. This allows a company to have more endpoints and less hardware. Because of this, a common issue in moving to the cloud is the misappropriation of resources and the subsequent less-than-ideal performance.
It’s important to understand application/workload resource needs in order to achieve the right balance between resources and costs.
Licensing in the cloud
One of the first obstacles companies encounter when moving to the cloud is the array of licensing options available. Among the questions to ask: Can you bring licensing for your application? Does it require an upgrade to a cloud or portable license type? Does the application require a physical device (like USB) for licensing? No matter what type of license is needed, it’s essential to read all the fine print to avoid surprises down the road.
Virtual hardware concerns
Virtual machine hardware version compatibility, controllers, and disk formatting and size are just a few of the variables that can cause an unplanned detour in the journey to the cloud. Whatever platform/provider is selected, interoperability and compatibility should be among the first items investigated.
This one is more philosophical than physical, how will you be “connecting” to the cloud? Your employees? Your applications? Are there special concerns for either based on institutional or historical knowledge of the workloads and environment?
Are there some steps people can take (at any phase in the project) to make the migration process go more smoothly?
Successful data migrations seem to share common traits. Here’s what we’ve found to be effective:
Get executive sponsorship. Top-level buy-in and support of the project means it has a high priority within the organization, so things move faster and resources get allocated quicker.
Document the environment. Customers who have taken the time to document their IT environments know what they have, the dependencies, the usage patterns, and all the other variables that make their environments unique. This helps eliminate some of the surprises that can pop up during a migration project.
Use strong two-way communication. Successful migration projects require good communication between team members and, if applicable, between the internal IT team and the CSP. This helps keep projects on schedule and ensures that when issues arise, they are deal with promptly and collaboratively.
Assign a project manager. Customers who have a single point of contact assigned to “manage” the project on the customer end (even if this isn’t a “Project Manager”) typically have a more pleasant trip to the cloud. This person coordinates the necessary players on the customer side to make sure the pertinent players are involved when they need to be as well as keeping customer management positions in the know, reducing the need for an “all hands on deck” approach for the customer.
What about issues related to the need to refactor or rebuild apps before they move to a cloud environment?
There isn’t so much a “need” to refactor/rebuild, as the option always remains to leave the application/workload at the existing site or location. However, if a rebuild/refactor enables the workload to migrate into the cloud or enables other pieces of the application to migrate to the cloud, the migration can and is used to enable this work. We frequently see migrations that occur in lockstep with other IT transformation initiatives at the same time because one enables the other.
Are there any specific issues to be aware of with hybrid migrations such as moving to both colocation and the cloud?
Most cloud adoption/migration projects consist of some kind of hybrid element. Too often, there are workloads that aren’t appropriate for moving to the cloud due to various factors.
There are also good reasons to purposefully design hybrid solutions, where workloads and applications may exist in multiple data centers (self-hosted, private cloud and public cloud). That includes cost, performance and the services those locations offer. From the standpoint of preparation, it’s necessary to keep proximity in mind. The benefit of having items spread out is geographic diversity — until the point where user experience suffers from the lack of proximity.
Is there anything else companies should do or at least think about before migrating to the cloud?
There’s some good information in the blog Cloud Migration: Basic Considerations and in our Ready. Set. Migrate eBook. However, one of the best things an organization can do is sit down with a cloud services provider or a cloud consultant to determine the best solution to meet its best needs and goals. That may or may not be a cloud migration. It could be a hybrid IT strategy. It could be a phased cloud approach.
All organizations’ have unique IT environments. Their journeys to the cloud will be just as unique.
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To learn how US Signal can help you migrate to the cloud, call 866.2. SIGNAL or email[email protected].
Additional Cloud Migration Resources
To learn more about cloud migration, check out these articles below from our blog or visit our resource center for whitepapers, e-books and more!