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Consider These 4 Tips for a Smooth Cloud Migration

Susan Artz
February 18 2020

Migrating to the cloud from an on-premises solution can be a great decision with many technical and business benefits. However, before migrating workloads and services to the cloud, businesses of all shapes and sizes need to carefully consider the implications of doing so. Here are some of the most important considerations that IT teams should keep in mind if they want to ensure their migration process goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Data Security

First and foremost, from a cloud migration perspective, (or in regard to any IT initiative) data security is paramount.

This begins with understanding the kinds of data being migrated, checking who has access to it, and how it is being accessed. There are numerous options and configurations for protecting access to your data In the cloud. By understanding everybody's roles and permissions, it’s easier to gauge where company data is being accessed and to put the right security measures in place. For example, whether an employee regularly uses their computer at the office, at home, or at a café will factor into VPN solutioning.

Role-based access control (RBAC) should be used to manage access to the management layer as well as the application and network layers. Cloud platforms make it easier to apply RBAC policies.

Ensuring network security is vital and many standard security protections can be configured natively… they just need to be configured in the first place. And while the cloud makes it easy to spin up new resources, along with that also comes risk of misconfiguration. It is easy when deploying a new VM to mistakenly assign a public IP address with open inbound ports, thus introducing a major security gap into the environment. This can be mitigated with some basic planning and policy implementations.

Existing on-premises security policies and requirements should be reviewed and applied to cloud resources. It Is important to think of your target cloud environment as an extension of your enterprise environment (whether it is hybrid connected or not). At a minimum, the same protections should be put into place. For example, if you require encryption-at-rest on your current storage array, there are various encryption and key management options in the cloud that can be configured.

The cloud offers many security services and tools that should be taken advantage of to maximize your protection and ensure data security, but once again, they must be configured first.

By understanding your requirements, data classification, and user roles, it's easier to make smart decisions upfront to prevent security pitfalls.

2. Cost Control

When companies migrate infrastructure to a cloud-based server from an on-premises one, they’re effectively changing the way they pay for it too.

While existing on-premises hardware is earmarked as capital expenditure (or CapEx), cloud services are regarded as operating expenditure (OpEx) as they’re consumption-based. This means that you pay for what you use monthly instead of a large upfront cost. The monthly cost can vary greatly based on usage.

Why does this matter? Well, if these costs aren’t managed correctly, and employees are given free rein to add the functionality they need themselves, charges can quickly mount up. Access control is therefore critical. Companies need to keep track of what’s being deployed (and where) and what the traffic flow is.

There are many different charges for cloud resources such as: resource type, size, performance level, transactions and data source/target location. For example, if you have your database deployed in one region and someone deploys a data warehouse server in a different region (unknowingly), there will be additional data transfer costs compared to deploying it in the same region.

Understanding the way resources are priced in the cloud plays a big part in designing the most cost-effective solution. The benefit of so many choices in the cloud, can quickly become an annoyance if not properly planned for and managed.

When putting together the cloud design, it should be reviewed for technical feasibility as well as estimated cost. Different choices can be made in the design to lower the cost and still meet the same technical need. For example, if application compute usage varies greatly by the time of day or month, the application servers could be put into a scale set with autoscaling based on usage metrics or schedule as opposed to single static virtual machines.

Ongoing cost management is important to make sure the investment in cloud migration remains a positive one. There are many tools and reports available to keep an eye on monthly expenditures.

3. Dependencies

Not knowing what your apps’ dependencies are poses a big risk. Understanding what your application or workload requires, and what it talks to, is essential when moving to the cloud.

Say a business has a three-tiered application comprising of web, app, and database servers. If only one server moves to the cloud, this adds distance- impacting the performance of the application. It also adds costs as network outbound data transfers are charged.

There are multiple tools available to help map application dependencies in order to plan for them in the cloud. Azure Migrate is a useful tool provided by Microsoft to gather info about your on-premises workloads. Tooling combined with interviews of application owners is a great way to get a full picture of the environment.

For instance, you may not be aware that an application is using a file share for temporary data storage. If that info isn't captured up front, it could cause a failure during the migration of that app.

Resource dependencies play a big part in your end design as well as your migration plan. By working with a partner like SaaSplaza, we can help determine which resources should be moved together and in what order.

4. Employee Knowledge

From a technology perspective, cloud migration may be the perfect decision for the business, but for many employees it can be quite an adjustment if they’re not accustomed or familiar with the new environment. IT staff may require formal training to expand experience with the new cloud technologies. Cloud knowledge is crucial to not only come up with a solid design to avoid these risks, but also for ongoing management of the environment. It is important to have the implementation team familiar with the best practices and particulars of the chosen cloud prior to migrating any resources.

In addition to the IT staff involved in designing and managing the cloud environment, application and end users will need to understand the impact of the migration. Depending on the type of migration, how users interact with data and applications could change. A solid communication strategy is crucial in bringing everyone up to speed. This could involve training, or simply a regular email update on progress and what to expect.

If in doubt, it’s always worth seeking out advice from an experienced Expert Managed Services Provider (MSP) who can help with these issues and offer advice on the best way forward. Get help from our experts and make sure you don’t miss a thing from your initial lift and shift to everything that comes after.

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