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How to get ready for your cloud transformation

Five decisions IT teams should consider before migrating to the cloud

Bigstock, cloud

Around the world, businesses of all sizes and industries have recognised the flexibility, scalability and cost-saving benefits of migrating and running applications in the cloud. According to analyst firm IDC, Europe’s cloud market is projected to grow at 22% for the next three years and become a $162 billion industry by 2020

While no two cloud migration paths are the same, there are still several common considerations to guarantee a smooth transition. For example, when migrating, decisions need to be made about enterprise applications in the context of the new cloud environment and the business’ needs.

To have a strong foundation for a cloud migration strategy, here are five questions IT teams need to answer.

Which apps should be migrated?

All applications should be analysed and classified on whether it makes sense to migrate them. For example, apps nearing the end of their lives would most likely remain in-house until they expire.

There are several ways that apps can migrate to the cloud.

The "lift-and-shift" method replicates the app in the cloud with minimal adjustments, with no significant changes required in terms of business processes associated with the app.

Alternatively, apps can be re-architectured into a cloud-native app. This method is more common for resource-intensive apps and reduces latency and performance issues.

"Drop-and-shop" refers to the organisation's decision to move to another product, ending existing licensing and repurposing services on a new platform service. This is often applied when using a proprietary data based platform.

Some migrations use a hybrid of these methods, where key applications are lifted and shifted to the cloud while a re-architecture strategy happens in the background, guaranteeing immediate app availability while also enabling long-term development.

How should the app be supported in the cloud?

Aspects of an app might need to be adapted for it to function properly in the cloud. Networking, base operating system image and storage considerations are common when deciding how to migrate an app. A base operating image should also be standardised early on.

The cloud environment also needs to be adapted by lining it with more enterprise services for better traffic management, app optimisation and increased protection.

What impact will migration have on app security?

When apps migrate to the cloud, decisions will need to be made on whether the business should leverage its own security tools or use the cloud vendor’s native security tools.

At the infrastructure level, the cloud is often more secure than private data centres. Security measures such as encryption, access privileges, and intrusion prevention systems can be deployed to protect apps. 

The common theme across these practices is their complexity. Consumers need a developed understanding to ensure security measures are implemented correctly, with harmful breaches a possibility if this isn't the case. 

With managing security services being such a complex and error-prone task, relying on a cloud vendor's pre-configured, tested security services may make more sense.

How can the people and processes for the apps be supported?

When applications are being migrated, the operations that support them also need to be considered, and it is important to understand support options before they are needed.

Since much of the benefit of the cloud is increased agility, in many cases, teams will be leveraging new tools in newer, more automated workflows. Improving documentation and communication around new processes, as well as implementing a training plan, can help provide a smooth migration and operational efficiency once apps are in the cloud.

What part can hybridisation play in app migration?

Not all parts of an application can or should migrate to the cloud. In some cases, it is better to run an app with one foot in the data centre and one foot in the cloud. Compute services from various cloud providers can still be leveraged even if the core data needs to stay put.

This hybrid approach gives the advantage of using cloud services without having to store the regulated or sensitive data off-site.

A focus on communication between the two platforms is necessary, as data traverses both. With the correct funnels in place, the likelihood of a data becoming bottlenecked is reduced. VPN connections can provide fast and stable connections that protects data as it travels. 

Once all these decisions have been considered, the end result should be a migration strategy that enables IT teams to support the technology, allowing the business to scale.

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