This article will provide information about the cloud migration services and methodologies of cloud hosting providers. Often migrating to the cloud means significant effort and organizational planning too great for existing personnel to absorb. Communications with end users and executive management, maintenance window planning, application vendor coordination, WAN performance validation, pilot/proof of concept testing, roll-back planning and quality assurance testing are all examples of items that will potentially need to be handled during your transition to the cloud.
Should you have several systems and applications to transition, a phased approach may be necessary. Planning and coordinating all of these activities will take project management resources. Selecting a cloud hosting provider that provides project management and oversight and expertise can be truly indispensable. Unencumbered by internal politics and existing operational artifacts, a project manager will work to hold resources accountable to deliverables and provide a conduit for consistent communications and planning.
Migration Methods - There are numerous methodologies to consider when migrating applications and systems into the cloud. Typically, your initial planning meeting with your project manager and cloud hosting provider will include discussions on migration methodologies. It is important to understand each type and weigh the benefits and concerns of each.
- Greenfield - A Greenfield build is one that lacks any constraints imposed by prior work. For a cloud transition, this could mean setting up new servers and networks in the cloud and then installing applications and data fresh. In organizations that are experiencing a large number of IT related issues that have not or cannot be resolved through normal systems administration, a Greenfield deployment may be recommended.
- Forklift - This approach is exactly what the title implies and is the fastest migration when it comes to simply relocating the environment into the cloud. A forklift migration is generally used when the existing IT infrastructure was built using industry best practices and is in good working order. Planning and pre-migration testing, especially data backups, is a critical step prior to making the actual migration. Commonly, a process known as a P2V (physical to virtual) migration is used to move applications running on physical server assets into the cloud.
Network Connectivity - When transitioning to the cloud, you will need to establish connectivity between your users and the cloud hosting provider. Often this can be accomplished through VPN tunnels over the Internet however larger scale deployments may benefit from direct, high-speed connectivity. This is especially important if you are linking an existing data center with infrastructure to the cloud hosting provider. Application dependencies over the network must be addressed carefully for the cloud to be effective.
Ensuring Data Integrity - When data moves to the cloud, it moves beyond the reach of tools and mechanisms you may have put in place over the years to preserve data integrity. Ensuring that your organization's intellectual property is properly backed up as soon as a transition is completed is paramount. You'll need to make sure that the cloud hosting provider has a robust backup methodology and offers you transparency into the reports showing backup job completions and failure.
Managing Multiple Environments - After transitioning your applications to the cloud, you'll find another potential hurdle: how are you going to manage them? The cloud and your existing IT infrastructure are currently two completely separate environments, each with its own set of system management tools, and often no meaningful way to integrate the two. Your IT staff will need to learn and use each cloud hosting provider's management tools and policies, in addition to the ones they already have. One solution is to have the cloud hosting provider manage the cloud infrastructure including the operating systems and applications. Many cloud hosting providers offer robust managed services for your systems with a competitive SLA.
Contact your local cloud hosting provider for more information about their cloud migration and cloud computing services.