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Considering cloud migration: Strategy is king

Considering cloud migration: Strategy is king

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Migrating to the cloud is now an unavoidable reality for businesses striving to put flexibility in the hands of their employees and conform to the modern way of working. Adrian Rowley, Senior Director EMEA, Gigamon, discusses the foundations that should be implemented to build a successful cloud migration strategy.

As businesses evolve to a more hybrid way of working, many are moving to the cloud to enable employees to access company resources from anywhere in the world. Operating in a cloud environment not only gives staff infinite flexibility in where they work but it enables high levels of scalability. With system resources able to be dynamically increased or decreased depending on demand, businesses can better optimise infrastructure usage to effectively allocate bandwidth and save money. In truth, there are few disadvantages to using cloud technology, but cloud migration can require substantial investment. This is why getting cloud migration right is crucial.

Laying the foundations of a successful strategy

Cloud migration should be a holistic process, with every avenue explored and assessed before any overarching decisions are made. If businesses jump straight in, or don’t review the migration journey as a whole, they risk impacting the speed and security of their existing infrastructure.

Strategy development should start with an assessment of the range of applications that the organisation uses in the cloud, as this will likely influence the operating system needed. Most cloud applications run in a Linux environment, but it’s important to be aware that some also make use of Windows Server or other operating systems. Next, businesses must consider the type of migration they need to undertake. In instances where data is moved from one provider to another, they must assess the portability of this data – does this require physical movement of hard drives, or additional code? In a similar vein, legacy infrastructure can add another layer of complexity. In this case, data may need to be modified to ensure compatibility with more up-to-date systems.

Logistically, cost is also a factor of a cloud migration strategy. Different cloud providers are likely to offer varying prices or cost differentiators in specific areas, so decisions need to be made about the budget allocated to this process and where a business’ priorities lie. With all options fully explored, decision-makers can ensure that they are choosing the provider with the best offering at the lowest cost. Finally comes people – cloud migration can be resource-intensive so businesses must decide whether they have enough staff to make it happen, and what to do if they don’t. In-house teams can be effective, but many cloud providers also offer their own staff to aid migration, although this can be expensive. It’s worth exploring whether migration staffing can be negotiated into the contract if necessary.

Investing in success and security

Even with a watertight strategy, cloud migration can still take a significant amount of time and money. However, cutting corners isn’t an option – it’s vital to invest the necessary resources in getting this process right in order to achieve business goals and avoid mistakes that may cause issues later down the line.

As recent breaches have driven home, security must be a top priority. This should start with an assessment of the current levels of security an organisation has in place and what is likely to be required when operating in the cloud, which can depend on the type of apps being deployed. While this can be done in-house, it is often advisable to consult an external cloud security specialist, or the app developers themselves, to decide on what security requirements are necessary as part of the migration. 

Security considerations should also extend to the cloud provider aiding the migration. While cost is definitely a factor in which provider is chosen, businesses should additionally invest in substantial due diligence to uncover whether potential suppliers have experienced security breaches or outages in the past and how they have responded.

Obtaining a clear line of sight

So, what happens once the necessary boxes have been ticked and migration completed? The cloud journey doesn’t stop there. Maintaining a cloud infrastructure is a different process to maintaining an on-premises environment, and should be treated as such. To start with, visibility can become a much more substantial concern due to the distributed nature of a cloud environment. This is especially true when operating with a hybrid cloud – which is currently deployed by 82% of IT professionals – as it can result in a number of individual ‘islands’ of visibility, rather than cohesive oversight over the entire network. If these visibility gaps aren’t removed, network and security teams will struggle to monitor traffic travelling across the entire network, which can result in performance and security incidents that could easily be avoided.

A single pane of glass view into all data-in-motion is required to remove the hybrid cloud visibility gap and to quell the concerns and costs associated with it. Not only can this optimise performance by ensuring data is only travelling through the network monitoring tools that need to assess it, but it can allow SecOps teams to spot potential security concerns much faster – enabling them to be proactive rather than reactive. 81% of organisations cite cloud security as a challenge, so giving security teams tools to enhance and streamline their work is critical.

Ultimately, taking steps to mitigate the hybrid cloud visibility gap as part of their cloud migration strategy will enable businesses to offer users and consumers a better digital experience. Problems will be solved faster, downtime reduced and network speeds enhanced when all data-in-motion can be examined quickly and seamlessly.

Cloud migration is an unavoidable reality for businesses striving to put flexibility in the hands of their employees. However, migrating to the cloud represents a major overhaul of all digital operations and shouldn’t be taken lightly. If decision-makers and technical teams spend the time and resources necessary to devise a holistic cloud migration strategy that is right for their infrastructure, needs and goals then they will be on the right track. Considering who you choose to partner with, how to adapt processes – such as security – to a cloud environment, and assessing the new challenges the cloud might pose are critical to getting this strategy right.

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