Migrating to the cloud is not only about technology, it’s also about changing processes and how people provision hybrid IT infrastructures. This takes time while engineering teams learn new practices and technologies. Therefore, you can’t think about migration to the cloud as a project with only a single end date. Sure, you need to set goals and have milestones. But to take full advantage of the cloud, you’ll have to adopt a continuous improvement mindset.
It is also important not to get caught up in the vastness of features and services from the cloud. Not all cloud services were created to fulfill everyone’s specific needs. And migrating to the cloud doesn’t happen overnight. Depending on the size and complexity of your workloads, it means creating a multi-month or multi-year plan.
So, let’s get into how you can start your cloud migration journey.
To take full advantage of the cloud, you’ll have to adopt a continuous improvement mindset.
Questions you’ll want to consider first
Start by asking yourself, “Why do I want to migrate my applications to the cloud?” And don’t answer this question alone; involve other departments like finance, business management, strategy, IT and other stakeholders you identify as being key in this journey. It’s not a purely technical decision; there are other factors to consider like cost optimization or improving delivery efficiency.
Here are some questions to answer while planning your cloud migration. Should you just move your servers to the cloud as they are? Are the servers and applications optimized for cost efficiency in the cloud? Most importantly, how are you going to move your data? Over the public internet? Probably not. It’s much better if you use a direct and secure, software-defined interconnection service to the cloud provider to reduce the risks of over congested, unreliable and unsecured connections.
Start with a cloud adoption framework
Most major cloud providers, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, have a cloud adoption framework (CAF) that provides tips and recommendations from their teams and partners to migrate your existing workloads successfully.[i] Be sure to approach the journey with a continuous improvement mindset. To get started, pick a simple workload that won’t take several months for your first migration. Allow the stakeholders and the IT team to get used to the cloud model.
Then assess the application’s readiness for cloud migration. How technically feasible is it to move? How much will it cost? And what is the return on investment (ROI). Then move the application, and monitor and review the outcomes, including working in the hybrid model for some time. You might even take this opportunity to design a disaster recovery solution for your data and applications.
I’ve just summarized and simplified the cloud migration process, but it does take time to get it done, especially since cloud vendors have different services, tools and partners to evaluate. Once you have chosen a CAF, the next step is to decide which migration model to use.
For ‘lift and shift,’ it’s critical that you ensure the application will be technically supported ‘as is’ in the cloud.
Choosing a winning migration model(s)
Below, you’ll see the most common models that companies use to migrate legacy workloads, but remember, one size does not fit all. You can always build hybrid models or use different models depending on the application.
Lift and Shift (Relocate)
For some applications, the easiest way to move to the cloud is by relocating the server. In other words, lift and shift. A disadvantage of this model is that the application might become more costly. And that’s because (let’s be honest) most of the time on-premises servers are over-provisioned. But there might be legacy applications that are too costly to modify for the cloud or you don’t have the time or resources to make changes. If you choose this model, it’s critical that you ensure the application will be technically supported “as is” in the cloud. Each cloud provider has tools to help you with this common migration model, which are listed below.[ii]
Another more greenfield option is to rebuild the application. This provides the opportunity to use the latest tech, avoid previous mistakes and start fresh. In an ideal world, you’d have the money, the time and the team to rebuild the application, however, it may be best to use managed services like AWS SQS or Microsoft Azure Storage Queue over MSMQ. Even though this is the model every tech would like to deploy, it involves some complexity. For instance, you might need to think about how to replicate legacy data, how to switch environments in the proper order, and even how to run new and old applications at the same time.
At some point, we all need to modernize applications, even if it means rebuilding them. But you don’t necessarily have to start from scratch. You can modernize applications incrementally, adopting new tech in small sprints. For instance, as Martin Fowler said, you can “gradually create a new system around the edges of the old one.”[iii] Then terminate the old system architecture leaving the “modernized” version alive. Another popular approach is using containers. Projects like Kata Containers or Kubevirt are examples of tools you can use to migrate virtual machines to containers, and then orchestrate them with Kubernetes.[iv]
Migrating to the cloud for success
Each of these models has its pros and cons, depending on how old the technology is and your budget, time and resources. And you can also use a single model or a mix of models for portions of the application. Moreover, you cannot forget about the application once it’s in the cloud. You must continue to improve its architecture, use managed services, and make it more resilient, elastic and native to the new environment. Continuous improvement, that’s the key to success.
Your cloud migration journey does not have to be as complex as it may seem. We have a dedicated team that can help you navigate it to efficiently and cost-effectively meet your business objectives. Equinix Professional Services is a team with solid knowledge around cloud and interconnection services.
By attending our cloud readiness workshop, you’ll learn how to develop a winning cloud migration strategy using our own cloud adoption framework that leverages high-speed, low-latency private interconnection for less cost.