The cloud. Even its name sounds as foggy as trying to reach and touch the real thing. We get it. Not to mention, you might not get exactly what it does and why it’s vital to advance your business. The cloud is not always an easy concept to grasp, especially when it comes to migration.
We’re sure you know what we mean when we say “the cloud.” But for the sake of clarity, when we speak of “the cloud,” we refer to cloud computing. Unlike an actual cloud, a computational cloud is invisible—a remote network of servers, working as a single ecosystem.
However, it’s not so much about what a cloud is as much as what it does. In essence, the cloud allows anyone with an internet connection and an internet-capable device to access files, data, and services anywhere at any time. This benefit is one of many enticing incentives driving companies like yours to migrate their IT infrastructures to the cloud environment.
Cloud migration means moving your applications, databases, and workloads from on-premise infrastructure to a public cloud or from one cloud to a different cloud. For this reason, it’s a process that companies seek to reap the benefits of cloud infrastructure.
Have you heard? “Everyone” is moving to the cloud. But why?
If your company has started developing on the cloud from the beginning, migration might be needless. But suppose your organization’s infrastructure is on-premises, on a private cloud, or a multi-cloud. Under those circumstances, your company could want to explore migrating to a more cost-effective and productive setting. In like manner, maybe you need improved performance and reduced latency for your customers that cloud data centers can better achieve. In sum, every organization has its reasons to migrate, and some of the main reasons are to:
- Save money
- Disaster recovery
- Scale current workloads
- Improve performance
- Lure more skilled engineering talent
- Gain access to more helpful and reliable cloud solutions and features
Gaining access to the cloud is as easy as finding and working with a cloud provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP) as examples. Also, cloud service providers are third-party businesses that offer cloud-based services like:
- Platforms (PaaS)
- Infrastructure (IaaS)
- Applications (SaaS)
- Cloud migration services, including migration tools
Like you would for utility energy, you pay for as much cloud service as you use based on compute usage. But which service provider you use will depend on your needs and plans. For example, you might need a cloud-native platform that can provide a distinct delivery model and have no plan to migrate in the future. On the other side of the spectrum, you might want the flexibility of a cloud-agnostic provider so your apps and workloads can migrate from cloud to cloud with ease. However, you don’t need to choose between cloud-native or cloud-agnostic. Ultimately, you can have a mix of the two to benefit from all options.
There are three major types of clouds: public, private, and hybrid. Of course, public clouds are what most cloud service providers offer. These clouds provide almost limitless scalability and tools for developing apps and running workloads easily and cost-effectively. Private clouds are often installed on-premises and limited by space and cost. Still, they can offer extra security around sensitive data. Hybrid clouds combine on-premise infrastructure with public cloud capabilities, giving an organization the best of both cloud types.
Keep the end in mind. When your company defines its goals, they will guide your migration process and how you measure success. Specify which metrics you’ll measure. Three examples of metrics to measure are:
- The company’s expenses (Capex and Opex)
- Your development team’s productivity (release cadence, etc.)
- Your dev team’s agility (how quickly they can pivot for a priority shift)
According to Gartner, “The key to avoiding cost overruns and implementing a successful cloud plan starts with building a realistic estimate of cloud migration costs.” Get a baseline of your key performance indicators (KPIs) to compare later.
You can measure company expenses with relative ease, but measuring productivity and agility will need a different approach. For example, if your company and dev team use Agile methods, you could measure points. How many points could the team complete before the migration? And how many after migrating?
Your company’s goals should drive your cloud adoption or cloud migration strategy. Thus, its priorities will help you migrate with purpose and steady progress. This strategy avoids fragmented app-moving caused by a lack of planning. For this reason, answer these questions to decide how your company addresses your migration (Note: These will help even if you’ve already taken steps to move to the cloud.)
- Should we go cloud-native, cloud-agnostic, or somewhere in between?
- Should we move existing applications and workloads to the cloud, or should we only use the cloud for new apps?
- Do we need the cloud for a specific purpose (application, workload, or database)?
- How complex would our migration be?
- What are potential roadblocks to a successful migration?
Your company could migrate all types of workloads, from applications, databases, and websites to storage, servers, and data centers. Therefore, if you stick to your company’s goals, choosing what to migrate will be easier. For our examples, we’ll focus on app and data migration.
First, identify the easy wins. These “easy” apps and services are what you would consider “lift and shift” apps or are easy to consume via an API.
Second, prioritize your candidates with a scoring system. With this intention, your scoring system will look at factors like:
- How the app or workload is built
- The app’s dependencies
- An app’s refactoring needs
- The value you receive by moving the app
- How much the app costs to run on the cloud
- If the app can be decoupled with ease
- How new or old the app is
Third, start small. Then move toward larger assets. This smaller-to-larger approach is helpful when migrating large-scale environments.
If you’re working with a migration expert or a cloud service provider, this is the stage they get involved. To begin with, service providers will survey your team to gain a thorough understanding of each app or workload. Also, you’ll get teardowns, change specs, and a statement of work for each asset, including pricing, design, operational impact (like downtime), plan, and a roadmap.
It’s time to move your applications and workloads to the cloud. At this stage, you’ll need to:
- Run a pre-migration checklist: Know what you’re migrating, what it includes, and what it requires to move.
- Follow best practices during migration: Set up parallel environments, start with no-production apps, and use virtual machine images, to name a few practices.
- Automate whenever possible: Use repeatable machine images and standardized processes for task automation.
- Enroll the right people with the right skills: It takes many teams to manage a migration project, so ensure you engage the right project management, cloud migration, and client-application, subject-matter-expert (SME) teams.
- Test your applications and optimize DevOps processes: From the testing platform to the cloud infrastructure, design testing strategies and apply modern tools for operations optimization.
At this stage, you’ve managed a successful cloud migration. But you’re not done yet.
First, you must assess how your migration went. Using KPIs for quantitative comparisons, how do your results measure up to your goals? For instance, some KPIs you would compare are cost, flexibility, reliability, and speed. But for qualitative comparisons, compare the transition quality, user-communication clarity, and the team’s opinions.
Next, optimize your cloud infrastructure. Your cloud platform will likely provide tools to help you get the most out of your environment and reduce your costs. And optimize your SaaS usage, too. Knowing your SaaS spend and app usage will help you decide whether to renew or replace your stack assets.
Last, know that your migration is never “really” done. In other words, to continue to evolve, you must measure, compare, monitor, and adjust every aspect of your cloud migration. Find new possibilities to replace complexity or cost-savings to replace higher-cost licensing.
Blissfully can help you manage your growing SaaS stack as you move to the cloud. We’ll automatically track your apps and vendors, help you save money, and simplify how you manage SaaS.
SaaS Management features include:
- Automatic SaaS discovery: Automatically discover apps used throughout the entire company through our various integrations.
- Benchmarking data: With data from thousands of companies, we can benchmark your SaaS spend and app usage depending on your company stage.
- Spend reporting: Track your vendor spend over time by team and department. Plus, identify any important trends.
- Usage tracking: Understand your employees’ tool adoption and usage to make informed purchase and renewal decisions.
To learn more about how Blissfully can help you manage your SaaS stack, request a demo.