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Cloud migration – Best practices and practical guide for CIOs

Cloud migration – Best practices and practical guide for CIOs

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CIOs are under significant pressure. Against the backdrop of increased customer expectations for self-service tools, IT leaders are managing increased complexity, with their organisations adopting more devices and more automation. In this article, Robert Fleming, Sales Director, UK & Ireland, Matrix42, talks us through these challenges and offers advice on how CIOs can embrace the latest technology to realise the best business outcomes.

The IT – and business – landscape has altered. As enterprises adopt more tools to help them keep up with demands for innovation and provide exceptional customer experiences, they’re dealing with increased complexity. This is particularly true when it comes to multi-cloud and hybrid environments, with many organisations leveraging different clouds for different use cases.

Though challenging, this new landscape also offers opportunities for businesses to devise and implement cloud migration strategies that will keep them ahead.

Building your cloud migration strategy

A successful cloud migration requires the planning and execution of a comprehensive strategy that sets migration goals, creates a timeline, anticipates challenges and defines the project’s success.

Migration strategies consider which workloads and business services to move to the cloud, which to keep on-premises and which new capabilities and applications to add once in the cloud. Your migration strategy should cover specific use cases for the workloads to be migrated. Defining use cases upfront enables you to create a solid strategy and sets the foundation for a properly executed migration process.

Migration strategies typically cover risk assessments, budgeting and security, as well as the type of cloud – public or private – that will host each of the workloads being relocated. Migration strategies should address the management of the environment in a consistent and simplified manner.

Security is also a top concern for CIOs during this migration and a robust security plan should be produced. Elements of the security plan should include whether to encrypt all or certain types of data, compliance with regulations pertaining to data in motion and at rest, and replication requirements.

Make sure your migration strategy also includes a communication component to not only keep all stakeholders abreast of the progress of the migration but also define their specific roles and responsibilities in the project.

What is needed for your cloud migration approach?

Move your servers, apps, databases and other workloads to the cloud using the migration approach that is right for your business. There is no single cloud migration process that works for every organisation, but the main implementation stages are similar for all organisations and industries: define your strategy, make a plan, ready your organisation and adopt the cloud – then govern and manage your environment.

1.    Use of cloud migration software tools

Automated tools, specifically, are designed to remove the complexities of migration and speed up the process.

If your company, like many others, keeps its asset inventory in spreadsheets or non-realtime repositories, your migration will be a disaster. We all know spreadsheets are out of date as soon as you update them, so you cannot be certain they are correct. Additionally non-realtime discovery tools miss vital assets due to their periodic discovery scans and can produce incomplete snapshots of your business services. You cannot plan a critical migration based on inaccurate data, especially for something as important as cloud migration.

2.    Your navigation system in a cloud migration

To ensure successful cloud migrations, the targeted application or service must be constantly observed over time to understand behaviour and account for the unknowns that will cause your migration to fail.

With FireScope baseline service maps, Matrix42 provides multilayer transparency into the dependencies that support your critical business services ensuring every asset and dependency is accounted for.

FireScope uses unique persistent observation technology that discovers application dependency changes over time, gathering even unsuspected dependency intelligence critical to successful data centre migrations and reliable on-going service delivery. Meanwhile, Software Asset Management (SAM) can also be used to calculate the software licence requirements, especially since cloud migration provides an opportunity to optimise your IT footprint.

An ESM solution is also an important tool in enabling you to update and modernise your digital workspace, implement your service desk, ticketing, catalogue management, CMDB, among others, providing a single modern solution across all your locations to replace multiple legacy point solutions.

Three key steps for a successful move to the cloud

Once your strategy has been formulated and approved, it is time to proceed to the planning stages of migration. A migration plan must consider all the workloads and business services to be transferred to the cloud and the sequence for migrating them.

Migration plans cover roadmaps, scheduling, project metrics, migration tools and services, and they include a communication plan for organisation leaders, implementers, cloud vendors and – as appropriate – all stakeholders. The latter includes the users who will be affected by the changes resulting from the migration.

Step 1: Discover and map business services accurately

First, it is necessary to clarify the infrastructure and software components involved to determine which applications and services make sense for operation in the cloud. This means identifying service dependencies and taking them into account during migration. For example, a server may be shared by services that are to be migrated as well as services that will remain on premise. Understanding this is very important so that decisions regarding costs and consolidation can be correctly made, without adding risk.

The key to accurately mapping the IT infrastructure lies in an automated bottom-up approach. The goal is to identify and map all IT assets of an environment. New mapping tools are now using intelligent algorithms to provide a clear overview of all components and their dependencies. On this basis, it is then possible to quickly identify how the applications to be migrated are connected to each other and which dependencies need to be considered for each business service to be migrated.

Step 2: Holistic technical analysis

Typically, companies start cloud migration by moving simple, less system-critical applications. Nevertheless, it is also helpful here to conduct a comprehensive technical assessment of all business services in advance. The information that IT managers obtain using discovery and dependency mapping tools for cloud migration can then quickly and easily provide information on whether, for example, a new architecture will optimise the approach. Accordingly, you can assess and select the appropriate architecture to be migrated.

Re-architecting/modernisation approaches are necessary and by understanding the technical characteristics of the applications to be migrated, it is possible to judge for which applications the migration is worthwhile and where the cost-benefit ratio is negative. For example, if there is a lack of storage capacity in your current environment, applications requiring a lot of storage space should be considered to be moved first so as to avoid buying additional capacity.

Scorecards can help to establish an order of priority for the migration, considering organisational requirements and long-term goals (e.g., cost reduction, business continuity, scalability, or agility).

It is often better to start small to quickly realise initial successes and then build on these step by step. There is a difference between starting a migration plan with a multi-tier application that requires repeated reworking and an application that works in the cloud within a day.

Step 3: Optimise costs

Those who migrate applications to the cloud with the same CPU, memory and storage as on-premises and then run them around the clock probably won’t save any costs. Therefore, cloud migration must always be viewed as an opportunity to optimise costs – not just once, but continuously and across all applications and cloud providers.

Here are five central basic rules for cost optimisation:

  1. Find and eliminate zombie servers [unused and under-used] before migration
  2. Manage and optimise your licenses
  3. Select the appropriate instances and services
  4. Compare cloud providers and cloud regions
  5. Get an overview of your cloud expenses so they can be managed

Summary

Most enterprises have a cloud strategy and 85% of them use multiple clouds. The current trend in the enterprise is to leverage four to five clouds on average. The multi-cloud trend is fuelled by the practice of mixing and matching applications to the cloud infrastructure that is best suited to each specific workload. Multi-cloud strategies, therefore, add stability while increasing flexibility and scalability.

Using software tools to automate your core IT processes, removes the need for manual intervention and facilitates migration of your business services to the cloud. Automation of critical business services also ensures that industry standards and best-of breed frameworks, such as ITIL, can be intrinsically leveraged to best support your business.

A realtime discovery and service dependency mapping tool, like FireScope, will support your assessments related to which services can be migrated and ensure that the full scope of IT that supports each service is considered. A highly functional and integrated ESM solution, such as Matrix42’s offering, will support your service catalogue, ticketing, services desk, SLA management, CMDB, knowledge base, etc.

By extension, asset management, contract management, digital workspace, workflow management and other related functions can by managed using a single integrated suite of solutions, creating corner-stone support for the digital work environment and facilitating the migration of core IT services to the cloud.

Software allows complicated functions to be automated, data from many sources to be integrated and aggregated and the resultant actions to be triggered without manual intervention. With each of us using increasing numbers of devices to access applications and services that are ever more advanced, and with an ever-increasing number of digital transactions, the necessity for integrated, multi-functional, automated software solutions to support your business and IT activities, including cloud migration initiatives, becomes increasingly urgent from one month to the next.

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