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Cloud Migration: Common Challenges and Recommendations

SL-101820-36860-11-1030x687 Cloud Migration: Common Challenges and Recommendations

Introduction

It is estimated that today more than 90% of companies are already using some form of cloud services, while by 2023, the public cloud market is projected to reach $623.3 billion worldwide. These statistics highlight the consistent emerging pattern of businesses migrating their infrastructure from on-premises to the cloud. Industry pundits also claim that it’s no longer a question for companies to ask if they should move to the cloud but rather when.

There are several reasons to it. Adopting the cloud offers improved data access, scalability, and application security while achieving enhanced operational efficiency. A projection by Oracle also predicted that companies can save up to 50% on infrastructure expenses by deploying workloads to a cloud platform. 

However, transitioning to the cloud comes with its own set of challenges, with a disclaimer that not every cloud migration project goes as smoothly as intended. While there are a number of factors to failure, a lack of planning and insight before cloud migrations are one of the most prominent reasons for an outright failure. This not only means that the organization’s long-term goals to improve operational efficiency goes for a toss but also result in wasted effort, time, and money.

This article addresses the most common challenges to expect when moving from an on-premises setup to a cloud platform, and how to overcome them.

Common Challenges of an On-Prem to Cloud Migration

As an essential best practice, organizations are required to diligently research and assess the most suitable processes, methodologies and plan every step of the migration to ensure the right decisions are made, and costs are controlled. Here are some key considerations that should be followed as the rule of thumb. 

Choosing the Right Model and Service Provider

Choosing the right cloud model for a business and the right service provider can not only make or break the migration project, but also affect its future maintenance and sustainability. 

There are 3 cloud models that require an assessment to ascertain the best fit for the company:

  • Public Clouds are the most popular choice where a service provider owns and manages the entire platform stack of cloud resources – which are then shared to host a number of different clients. Some common examples of such managed service providers are MS Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud.
  • Private Clouds, on the contrary, don’t share computing resources as they are set up specifically for exclusive use by a single organization. Compared to public clouds, such a framework offers more control over customized needs and is generally used by organizations who have distinct or specific requirements, including security, platform flexibility, enhanced service levels, etc.
  • Hybrid Clouds are a blend of a public/private cloud used with an on-premises infrastructure. This allows an organization to interchange data and applications between both environments that suit its business process or technical requirements. For businesses that are already invested in on-site hardware, a Hybrid cloud model can ease a gradual transition to the cloud over a long-term period. Additionally, for businesses that are too reliant on Legacy applications, a Hybrid cloud model is often perceived as the model that provides the leeway to adopt new tools while continuing with traditional ones. 

Challenges-of-Cloud-Migration-e1617044236232 Cloud Migration: Common Challenges and RecommendationsImage source: Intel.com

Apart from the cloud model, when it comes to selecting a service provider, there are key factors to consider such as 

  • how the data is secured, 
  • Agreed service levels and the provision to customize them, 
  • a guarantee of protection against network disruptions, and 
  • the costs involved. 

It is important for an organization to be mindful of vendor lock-in terms, as once the transition starts with migrating data, it can be difficult and costly to switch providers.

What is recommended?

Plan exhaustively on analyzing the current and future architecture, security, and integration requirements. Be clear about the goals of migrating to the cloud and identify the vendors that will most likely help in achieving them. A best practice of choosing the preferred service provider often starts with evaluating the proposed Service Level Agreement (SLA) for maintenance commitments, access to support, and exit clauses that offer flexibility.

Engagement and Adoption from Stakeholders

When introducing changes within an organization, it is often met with resistance by multiple stakeholders, which can thwart efforts for a smooth switch. This can be explained by scenarios where – the finance department may oppose the transition because of cost, the IT team may feel their job security is threatened, or the end-users won’t understand the reason for the change and fear their services might get impacted. Though such resistances are usually short-term, such factors may often compromise an organization’s immediate goals unless stakeholders are onboard.  

What is recommended?

Dealing with stakeholder resistance requires a holistic change in mindset across all levels of the organization. While hands-on training and guidance may provide support for users in adopting and using cloud-based services, preemptively addressing any resistance is a start on the right foot. Additionally, as an advisory for various organizational units, it is suggested to build a compelling business case that highlights current challenges in the organization with clear explanations on how migrating to the cloud will resolve these issues. 

Security Compromise

Whether the underlying architecture relies upon on-premises or the cloud, protecting a company’s data remains a top priority for any organization. When migrating to the cloud, a large part of the organization’s data security is managed by the cloud service provider. As a result, it is vital to have a thorough assessment of the vendor’s security protocols and practices.

This also means that organizations remain in control of where the data is stored, how incoming/outgoing data is encrypted, what measures are in place to ensure software is updated with the latest fixes, as well as the regulatory compliance status of the provider. Certain enterprise cloud providers like MS Azure take a holistic approach to security and offer the highest industry security standards that are aligned with regulations like PCI and HIPAA. 

What is recommended?

Define in-house security policies and explore the available cloud platform’s security tools. As a result, it is critical to proactively consider: 

  • authorization & authentication, 
  • audit lifecycle, 
  • application and network firewalls, 
  • protection against DDoS attacks and other malicious cyberattacks. 

Besides, a secure cloud migration strategy should administer how security is applied to data in-transit and at-rest, how user identities are protected, and how policies get enforced post-migration across multiple environments. 

It is important to note that administering security across all layers and phases of implementation requires much more than using tools. This usually begins with:

  • an organization to foster a security mindset
  • adopting security as part of the workflow by embracing a DevSecOps model, 
  • as well as incorporate a robust policy and audit governance through Security-as-Code or Policy-as-Code methodologies. 

Avoid Service Disruptions

Legacy models that rely extensively on third-party tools which are through with sunset clauses, or in-house developed applications, require special provision for a smooth transition. More so, frameworks involving virtual machines that include hardware-level abstraction are practically more complex that syncs and maintains abstraction layers through pre and post-transition phases. Unplanned migrations for such setups may often lead to performance issues including increased latency, interoperability, unplanned outages, and intermittent service disruptions. 

What is recommended?

Replicating virtual machines to the cloud should be planned based on an organization’s workload tolerance, as well as its on-prem networking setup. It is advised to make use of agent-based or agentless tools available by service providers, such as Azure Migrate that provide a specialized platform for seamless migrations. 

As for legacy or sunset apps, organizations are advised to plan for Continuous Modernization that provisions regular auditing of such apps, while planning for a phased retirement in the longer term. For setups where an immediate Lift and Shift isn’t an option, the organization should recalibrate its migration strategy by considering Refactoring or Rearchitecting strategies, that reimplements the application architecture from scratch. 

Cost Implications

Accounting for near and long-term costs during cloud migration is often overlooked. There are several factors that require consideration to avoid expensive and disruptive surprises. As migration from a legacy to the cloud is gradual, in the immediate term, organizational units often need to continue using both on-premises as well as the cloud infrastructure. This implies additional costs towards duplication of resource consumption such as – data sync & integrity, high-availability, backup & recovery, and maintenance of current systems

What is recommended?

Over the longer term, using a cloud platform is more cost-effective. Though there is very little that can be done by an organization to avoid most of such expenses during migration, what is required is to include these within its financial projections. While doing so, expect there to be upfront costs related to the amount of data being transferred, the services being used, and added expenses that may arise from refactoring to ensure compatibility between existing solutions and the cloud architecture. 

Benchmarking Workforce Skills

A migration plan that doesn’t benchmark workforce skills is often considered flawed. Cloud migrations can get complicated with customized requirements, using new technologies, and assessing what systems and data will be moved. During this, a good chunk of the effort goes towards the analysis of existing infrastructure to establish what will work on the cloud and identify the future gaps with respect to in-house workforce skills. 

What is recommended?

Migrating to the cloud is a complex process that requires a unique set of soft and hard skills. Before transitioning, it is essential to understand what practical knowledge the team has with cloud platforms, and then take the necessary steps to upskill in relevant cloud technologies and security. An important consideration around this should also factor in the allocation of contingent funds towards setting up a consistent framework of skills upgrade for seamless adoption of emerging tools and practices.

Key Takeaways

Adopting a cloud framework today is more a necessity than a projected goal. While migrating to the cloud, an organization’s goal remains equally important to develop a migration strategy, that sets realistic expectations by undertaking thorough due diligence. Being aware of the challenges and how to address them, not only minimizes immediate risks, but also prevents the project from becoming a disaster in the longer run.

By the end of it all, the successful strategy determines how efficient the migration is, without a noticeable impact on productivity or operational efficiency.

5 Benefits of Migrating to the Cloud using the Azure SQL Database

data-migration-SQL 5 Benefits of Migrating to the Cloud using the Azure SQL Database

As we move into 2021, migrating data to the cloud has been the norm for the last few years. We would even go as far to say that it’s becoming an essential part of any thriving business model, especially as COVID forced the world to shift online. With the pandemic came budget cuts, less resources to put toward technical training, and decreased business agility. These pain points can all be lessened by undergoing cloud migration. What does it take to migrate to the cloud using Azure SQL? Keep reading to learn what the process entails, who should use it, and how you will benefit.

What Does Migrating to the Cloud with Azure SQL Look Like?

Migrating to the cloud, regardless of what path you take to get there is a great idea. But using Azure SQL ensures you the cloud database options to fit your needs. Maintaining your systems with ease, Azure helps you seamlessly migrate to the cloud. Another aspect to note, expanded on in more detail later, is that SQL has the option to provide both a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). And if you’re already using SQL, Azure SQL is built on the same Server technology that you are already familiar with, meaning there’s no need to relearn SQL skills when making the transition.

Who Does This Apply To?

dat-amigration-benefits 5 Benefits of Migrating to the Cloud using the Azure SQL Database

This service is perfect for anyone who needs to migrate their SQL workload and modernize their applications. It keeps applications updated without the tiresome upkeep that can be so grueling.

The 5 Big Benefits:

benefits-of-migrating-to-the-cloud 5 Benefits of Migrating to the Cloud using the Azure SQL Database

1. Competitive Pricing

Using SQL managed instance, you can gain up to a 238% return on investment. This means you spend a fraction of the money that your competition does and boost performance at the same time. Want to know how much you could gain? Try out the Azure Hybrid Benefit calculator to view simulations of monthly and annual savings using the SQL server.

2. License Free Development and QA Environments 

Visual Studio users with subscriptions pay only for compute charges and can save up to 55% on dev and QA workloads. This allows for greater flexibility for customers who have dev teams. 

3. Modernizes Apps and Keeps You Up to Date

Azure services allows for the highest service level agreement (SLA) and an industry new SLA on RPO and RTO. Azure provides a wide range of choices depending on your needs. For more details on how to leverage this benefit, click here.

4. Consolidates Dozens of Data Centres Into One Place

Utilising Azure Managed Services is one of the best ways to maintain all your data centres in one accessible location. Instead of monitoring your workload across dozens of different interfaces, use just one portal to keep tabs on all your SQL databases, pools, instances and more. 

5. Provides both IaaS and PaaS

As previously mentioned, Azure SQL has three different options, providing both IaaS and PaaS, making it incredibly versatile. The first is Azure SQL Database, a PaaS, and it builds up-to-date cloud applications on the newest SQL server. The second is Azure SQL Managed Instance, another PaaS. Modernizing and migrating your SQL applications to the newest server version, it does so with minimal code changes meaning no patching or maintenance is required. And finally, the SQL Server on Azure VMs is an IaaS that rehosts SQL apps to the new server while also rehosting sunset applications. One of the biggest benefits with the SQL Server on Azure VMs is full SSRS, SSIS, and SSAS support. 

 

Interested?

If you want to take advantage of the benefits of migrating data to the cloud and all the profits that come along with it, contact us at: info@optimusinfo.com

 

5 Do’s and Don’ts to Succeed at Digital Transformation

dos-and-donts-to-succeed-at-digital-transformation-scaled 5 Do’s and Don’ts to Succeed at Digital Transformation

Digital transformation has been a hot topic for a long time, and for good reason, but what are some do’s and don’ts to succeed at it? If you haven’t had a chance to implement it, you may be worried. In a study by The International Data Corporation (IDC), they estimated that there is a $20 trillion market opportunity over the next five years. A survey done in 2019 gives jarring results to go along with these statistics. 64% of business leaders fear that they have less than 4 years to undergo digital transformation or they may go out of business. According to Harvard Business Review, 52% of Fortune 500 companies that existed in 2000, are no longer in existence today. The reason? It was because they couldn’t keep up with the way the world was transforming. So why is it so crucial to overcome the fears of being behind, and just go for it? We will highlight why it’s so important but also how you can take steps to integrate it to your advantage, through our 5 do’s and don’ts to succeed at digital transformation.

Digital transformation is important but is it too late to implement it? More importantly, how can you succeed?

So why is digital transformation so critical? If you haven’t already checked out our other blogs on digital transformation, they are a great first step to learning about the topic. Check out one of our favourites here. Digital transformation is about more than just taking your business online. It encapsulates all aspects of business, whether that be management or data storage, and makes it accessible, secure, and timeless. It’s been talked about for a while, and so it’s natural to feel late in the game if you’re only starting out now. But this isn’t actually the case! Digital transformation is an ever-evolving process and it’s better late than never. There are steps to take on this journey, so keep reading if you want to learn more. 

5 do’s and don’ts to succeed at digital transformation:

Procurement

DON’T: Don’t buy what you’re not going to use. Don’t procure cloud like you procured software in the 2000s. The old model/way of thinking is to put more money on the table to get a bigger discount. Cloud providers have built-in services that are intended to help you save money by allowing you to turn things on when you are using them and turn them off when you’re not. So there’s no need to put a lot of money upfront with a 12-month expiry to get a discount. You could just end up throwing away money that you won’t use. Instead, you can employ the pay as you go model, and save yourself a lot of overhead costs.
DO: So what should you do? Work with your vendor. The old mentality is that organizations don’t want to work with their vendors, want to isolate themselves, and just try to get bigger discounts. Public cloud vendors are willing to help you with your setup and how to best use their services to achieve your business outcomes. Leverage auto scale and off features that dynamically allocate your resources and optimize your cost to stay within budget. Essentially: if you’re not using it, turn it off.

Multi-Cloud vs. Single Cloud

DON’T: There’s no need to go multi-cloud just because. There’s fear about vendor lock-in. If you are going to go multi-cloud know your reason why. Going multi-cloud when you are a small organization or early in the cloud adoption journey can just slow you down because you are mixing in additional complexities and adding new services for your team to learn.
DO: So what are your alternative options? Adopt one cloud and do it well first before you adopt any others. Leverage Platform as a Service from cloud providers. It saves you time because these services are pre-built and you can start using them immediately. 

Actual Innovation

DON’T: This one is short and sweet. When undergoing digital transformation don’t just have a recreation of your on-premise work, keeping arbitrary ancient rules for no reason.           DO: Instead, challenge your team to reach the bounds of what they can do and embrace automation. 

Learning and Growth

DON’T: The previous point being said, don’t replace your hard working experts with automation.
DO: As a replacement, invest in learning and don’t expect it to happen automatically. Encouraging agility and innovation during this process is crucial. Automation is important, but only in conjunction with new learning. 

Security and Trust

DON’T: Finally don’t treat your network like a security boundary. Using the same network that you used in 2010 doesn’t do you any favours. And don’t expect that you’ll find your perfect match in terms of frameworks and diagnostics tools on your first try.
DO: Try to iterate governance and improve each time. Aim for progress over time.

Do you need a partner with Azure or digital transformation expertise?

Want guidance on finding a strategy and determining a roadmap? We at Optimus understand the needs of each company, and are an extension of your organization. We will use our expertise in Azure and the Cloud Adoption Framework to successfully guide you through your digital transformation, no matter where you are on your journey. To learn more and set up a complimentary discovery session, click here

 

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