Tim Simmons, Director of Technology at NearShore Technology
Migrating workloads from an on-premise datacenter to the Cloud is fraught with technical challenges. How do I pick the right size Cloud instance to run my app? How do I configure the network to allow the various systems to communicate, but do it securely? How do I set up proper identity and access management? How do I configure my environments to maintain compliance and provide audit trails? The list can be daunting. However, technical considerations are not the only areas that need attention. Having a firm grasp of the financial situation, the cloud skills, governance, migration process, and post-migration operational processes is also critical to a successful outcome. When you partner with a company like NearShore, you’ll have access to our team of experts who can help guide you through the migration process, making your transition seamless and simple.
Cloud computing promises a decrease in capital expenditures and, as a result, an overall decrease in cost. But, these savings don’t happen in one day. In fact, there is actually an increase in expenses during the migration, though it’s only temporary. Typically, you’ll have to pay for duplicate infrastructure until you decommission the on-premise systems and professional services costs associated with the move itself. Identifying these costs and the timing of when actual savings will be achieved is critical to setting realistic expectations. Using NearShore as a premium services partner, you’ll have an accurate assessment of migration costs as we used a fixed price model to provide a direct cost through an in-depth analysis of your specific needs. With these numbers in mind, you can more precisely plan and budget your spending prior to migration.
The virtual machine options in the Cloud are very powerful, but it’s easy to mistakenly overuse resources, causing a financial pitfall. To get the most from a cost savings opportunity, you have to understand what kind of resources you actually need and choose the best-fit equivalent in the Cloud. This applies to storage, data movement, usage, licenses, support levels, and any other services you plan to use. Essentially, you should determine what resources and systems are absolutely necessary prior to seeking them out to avoid overspending on superfluous resources that are not going to add value.
Both AWS and Azure have tools to help with this process. Migration Hub and Migration Evaluator collect data directly from your environment to create a report displaying the equivalent cost on AWS. Microsoft offers Azure Migrate to assess your applications and integrate with other services to perform the migration. There are also calculators available that allow you to input different scenarios of compute instances, varieties of storage types, usage amounts, data transfer, and support level to see the impact on monthly cost . While these calculators are only as good as the data you enter, they can give a quick ballpark estimate of the operational cost of running a workload in the cloud.
Some additional costs may also come in the form of training your team on how to use the new system. Clearly, migrating and running a production workload on the Cloud has higher risks than simply sampling the Cloud through a dev or test environment, which is why it’s paramount that the team responsible for the Cloud infrastructure has a solid understanding of resource selection, security, monitoring health, and problem solving. Unless you hire people who already have these skills (another cost), you will need to invest in training.
The breadth of services and capabilities offered by Cloud providers today is immense. This makes it tempting to go down a rabbit hole of training in a certain service or technology area without having a broad enough understanding of the basics. Specializing is important and recommended, especially in the areas of security and DevOps, but it’s also important that everyone on your team understands the basics of how things work on the Cloud platform you choose. Everyone needs to comprehend how the basic security mechanisms work, how to use fundamental services like networking and compute instances. Without this foundational understanding, your team will have a difficult time mastering areas of specialization in the future. With years of experience in the industry, NearShore’s team of experts can enhance your own staff’s understanding of the new platform, setting you up for success.
It can be challenging to allow your team the access and ability to be agile and innovative, while maintaining security and compliance in your Cloud environment. Luckily, this need has been addressed in the form of services that allow you to configure a cloud environment with security and compliance already built in. Essentially, it provides boundaries or guardrails that keep your team from doing anything that would compromise your security or compliance, but also gives them the flexibility to experiment and not be hampered by red tape.
These kinds of environments should be established prior to migration whenever possible so that you know that all data gets migrated and lives within the parameters that have been defined as safe and compliant according to your organization’s needs.
Managing the complexity of a typical migration requires a systematic approach to planning and execution. Before a single virtual machine or EC2 instance is created, you must identify the workloads of migration, understand their dependencies, value to your organization, costs to operate, and the requirements of the migration . Having all of this information provides a complete picture of your portfolio of systems and understand the relative priority of migrating each. It also allows you to group similar systems or migration strategies together to streamline the process and ensure a consistent approach when different teams are migrating various systems at different times.
Depending on the complexity and dependencies of your workloads, some can be migrated using the “lift and shift” method. This is especially true if you are already running in a virtualized environment and system connectivity is managed through well-documented and understood means. This process is relatively straightforward and can result in migrating a large number of servers quickly. However, it is very common to have systems that require some level of research and modification in order to run on the Cloud. This could come in the form of upgrading software versions, changing security access requirements, or possibly re-architecting whole systems.
Regardless of the specific process you use to migrate a system, success can be measured by verifying that the system is performing as expected. You need to be able to see what is going on with your servers, application, networking, and services to know whether those network ACLs are set up correctly. There are numerous third-party tools available that are Cloud compatible or partnered with Cloud providers to integrate seamlessly with their platforms.
Out of the box, both AWS and Azure have robust monitoring and logging tools available to give you insight into what is happening within your environment in the form of AWS Cloudwatch, AWS CloudTrail, and Azure Monitor. All of these tools have rich capabilities beyond pure logging such as triggering alerts, integrating with other services to activate scaling actions, and integration with analysis tools to take a deeper dive into your data.
While the technical challenges might be the most obvious as you consider a Cloud migration, it is only part of the overall picture that you need to consider. To have a successful migration you will also need to have a firm grasp of the financial implications and timing, identify and acquire the training your team needs to operate systems in the cloud, and create the processes to safely transfer your workloads to the cloud.
Converting your infrastructure can be a daunting task with many moving parts and aspects to consider, but it provides a myriad of benefits from major cost savings to increased accessibility. If you’re considering the switch but unsure about the technicalities, allow NearShore to help. Our fixed cost approach will assist you in properly budgeting your expenses during the migration process while our experts will identify goals and resources specific to your enterprise. At the end of the goal, our main goal is to add value to your business. With our customizable capabilities from development to engineering services, we help provide and manage the tools you need to fuel your success.