African enterprises must begin cloud migration

African enterprises must begin cloud migration

Lift-and-shift migration is better for application workloads that are monolithic in design rather than ones natively written for a scale-out architecture says Phillip de Waal at Nutanix.

A carefully planned cloud migration strategy is essential to facilitate the smooth transfer of data, applications, and workloads from on-premises to the cloud or between clouds. To do so requires a business to establish a simple and efficient application migration plan for its workloads.

One of the reasons for the recent shift in computing models across Africa is that hybrid multi-clouds provide organisations with choice and the flexibility and simplicity to host applications on the most appropriate infrastructure based on various factors. These include location, cost, performance, and resilience.

Phillip de Waal, Systems Engineering Manager at Nutanix Sub-Saharan Africa

As more hyperscalars open datacentres across the continent, these considerations will play a crucial part in a successful migration project.

Getting started

Today’s competitive focus centres on having an efficient, agile technology adoption strategy in place. This can reduce risk and cost while shortening the time-to-cloud. When a business considers embarking on a high-impact IT infrastructure project, application workloads are commonly managed through one or more of the following: rehosting, refactoring, re-architecting, and replacing.

It is also common for companies to employ these migration strategies in a way that overlaps. The focus is identifying the most appropriate migration path determined by the specific application type, how application data is managed, source and target infrastructure connectivity, and more.

Databases, for example, are not easily migrated using lift-and-shift methods without incurring a service outage. However, they typically have natively integrated data migration capabilities. Deploying a new database instance on the desired target infrastructure and migrating the data using these native tools may make the most sense.

It can also enable IT teams to update software versions during the same process, similar to the process for directory services workloads, which natively support data replication and are unsuited for lift-and-shift migration.

If anything, the lift-and-shift migration option is better suited for application workloads that are monolithic in design rather than ones natively written for a scale-out architecture.

Business sense

Because it can take up to two years per migration, depending on the application size, companies may decide to move multiple applications in parallel. Unfortunately, many need to pay more attention to the complexity this can cause. To do one migration effectively can be challenging, but doing two becomes exponentially more difficult.

A singular approach to migration might make the most business sense. After all, no company wants to slow down existing processes by performing tests and application cutovers across multiple cloud environments. This is especially true in Africa, where each country has different market requirements.

But once the decision to migrate to the cloud is made – based on a detailed cost-benefit-time analysis – success comes down to how strategically and meticulously the process of moving workloads to the cloud is planned and executed.

Three phases

The most prominent cloud vendors typically perform migration projects in three distinct phases: plan, migrate, run. While these might seem self-explanatory, CTOs and IT leaders must assess several critical factors before embarking on a migration process.

Initially, a business must establish an application performance baseline. This will reflect the health of applications before the migration and help in monitoring it once the migration is complete. It provides excellent guidance on whether performance has benefitted or worsened following the move from on-premises to the cloud.

Up next is the business value to be had. It is essential to estimate the benefits in terms of costs, efforts, and resultant capabilities that moving to the cloud will bring to the company. Tracking KPIs in each of these areas will help technology teams justify the time, money, and resources spent on the shift.

The benefits of the cloud are not only limited to a monetary or business perspective. When operational functionality is enhanced and system capabilities are added, the migration can be deemed successful, and ultimately, both employees and customers are happier.

Custom thinking

As with any technology project, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. This would be the case regarding cloud migration projects across the continent with different regulatory environments to consider.

A multi-cloud model works well as it enables the company to match each application or workload to the IT infrastructure best suited to handle it. But what constitutes best can change over time. This means businesses want the agility to move resources around when conditions warrant it.

And then there is the potential for downtime to consider. The tools, processes, and procedures developed for a datacentre environment must be adapted to the cloud or replaced with cloud versions. Migration teams must determine if monitoring, network security, and other functions can be transferred seamlessly to the cloud or require an overhaul.

How an enterprise deals with these issues depends on its culture and staff expertise. Compliance requirements also play a role. For example, some industry and geographic rules mandate hosting data in an IT environment over which the enterprise has complete control.

Although the benefits of cloud migration can be substantial, it can be complex and challenging to accomplish. For big companies, cloud providers are available to provide a lot of help. Smaller businesses are challenged to find personnel and consultants with solid experience in the destination cloud environments to help them migrate efficiently and with the least disruption possible.

It comes down to leveraging a flexible IT architecture that assumes the continual migration of applications across environments is the new normal.

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