Five Key Best Practices for a Cost Effective Cloud Migration
Moving from on-premise infrastructure to the cloud offers huge advantages for many businesses. Instead of having to own and operate physical servers, companies using cloud computing can just spin up or spin down a new server whenever they need to—a significant business agility advantage. As a result, there has been a massive boost in cloud adoption rates over the last 2 years.
As with everything IT related, cloud migration is not without its pitfalls. If mistakes are made during the process, they can result in massive downtime and increased migration costs. The following is a list of the five key best practices, companies migrating to the cloud should implement to avoid running into costly problems.
1. Thorough Pre-migration Planning
As with most business changes, planning a cloud migration is critical. Businesses should take inventory of their current applications and find the most cost-effective and time-efficient ways to move them to the cloud. Here are 5 migration strategies identified by Gartner to choose from:
- Rehost: To rehost an application, it is moved to cloud virtual machines or infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solutions. This method requires the least amount of upfront effort but does not take advantage of any of the unique opportunities made possible by cloud computing.
- Refactor: Instead of running an application on a virtual machine that must be managed by a company’s own engineers, they can migrate to a platform as a service (PaaS). The application can then take advantage of hosted databases, metrics and logging solutions provided by the provider, and other PaaS features, at the expense of an upfront time investment.
- Revise: Revising an application to take advantage of IaaS or PaaS requires more immediate effort than rehosting or refactoring it. However, by better tailoring the application to the cloud provider’s offerings, companies choosing to revise can save more money and make their systems more reliable.
- Rebuild: Rebuilding the application is the most extreme option. For some completely outdated applications that cannot be rehosted, refactored, or revised in a cost-effective manner, starting from scratch may be a reasonable solution. This option requires the most upfront effort but produces an application that is extremely well-suited to the cloud environment.
- Replace: Although some applications contain lots of personalized business logic, many can be better replaced by a commercial software as a service application. While this option requires migrating from the in-house solution to a third-party solution, it means that the company no longer needs to provide its own IT staff or infrastructure for that particular application.
2. Implement Automation
In addition to planning the process of moving existing applications, organizations can use cloud migration as an opportunity to automate more IT processes. From starting individual virtual machine instances to provisioning huge amounts of infrastructure, cloud services offer APIs that make automation simple. By adopting programmable infrastructure management tools and automating as many processes as possible, organizations can avoid repetitive manual labour and save money.
3. Set Budgets, Alerts, and Cost Monitors
In the cloud, unlike with on-premise infrastructure, it’s possible to accidentally use more computing resources than intended. If a cyber attacker takes advantage of a denial-of-service vulnerability in an application for instance, extremely high cloud usage charges might be racked up. Cloud providers design their services to allow effortless scalability, therefore an application exploit may result in huge accidental costs, unlike on-premise servers which will normally crash when under attack. Even companies such as Adobe are not immune to accidentally spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on unplanned cloud resources.
This issue can be prevented by setting billing alerts and budgets during the migration process. Most cloud providers offer a variety of controls to prevent runaway costs, as well as accidental charge forgiveness for some small businesses and startups.
4. Make Security a Priority
One of the primary concerns shared by companies migrating to the cloud is security. When using the cloud, computing resources are not physically under an organization’s control. For this reason, security and compliance must be handled differently. Here are a couple recommendations.
Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, all offer customer-managed disk encryption, which allows companies to encrypt data stored at rest with their own disk encryption keys. In this case, even if a rogue employee of Amazon, Microsoft, or Google attempts to steal a hard drive, it would be encrypted with a key unbeknownst to the provider itself.
In the cloud, permissions work differently than with on-premises. Since every resource is controlled virtually, compromised user and service accounts can be disastrous. For this reason, managing permissions correctly is a must to ensure the security of resources against internal and external threats.
5. Migrate One Application at a Time
While it can be rewarding to have an entire company’s workload in the cloud, this takes time. Selecting a relatively unimportant and simple pilot application to start with is a good choice. After learning the process and figuring out potential pitfalls, other applications that require better uptime and are more complex can be migrated. At that point, most organizations will have figured out the process well enough to be able to migrate their most mission-critical software without worry.
For some companies, a pure-cloud approach is not feasible or cost-effective. In this case, cloud providers offer hybrid cloud solutions, which allow companies to combine their on-premises infrastructure with the cloud.
Cloud Migration Outsourcing
Cloud migration can be difficult if improperly planned or executed. By implementing the above best practices, the process will most likely result in a smooth successful migration. One of the best ways to ensure that the migration process is successful is outsourcing it to an experienced IT provider such as Outsource IT. We have helped many of our clients successfully migrate to the cloud whether it be the public, private or hybrid cloud. Contact your Outsource IT account manager to learn more about our cloud computing solutions.