Businesses report the key advantages of moving workloads to the Cloud are flexibility, agility, easy access to information, and cost savings. Clearly they are taking use of these advantages, as seen in the 2018 State of the Cloud Survey performed by RightScale, they found that 96% of respondents now use the public, private, hybrid, or a mix of cloud computing models.
However, all of these great Cloud advantages come with a price. Just like any migration project, there are a lot of moving pieces and a lot of places a company can run into issues.
There are really three silos of challenges that both cloud migrations and operating in the Cloud fall into.
- Planning – Without a well thought out plan, your migration is destined to have a rocky road operational readiness.
- Risk Mitigation – It is key to understand all the risks, technology and business, that moving and operating in the Cloud creates. Adding risk mitigation to your initial plan will help ease the transition and make a surprise free environment when services go into production in the Cloud.
- Governance (Cost and Security) – The ease of use, agility, and elasticity of the Cloud are great benefits, but, they can also lead to runaway costs and a lack of adherence to security best practices.
In Harold Leavitt’s 1964 paper “Applied Organization Change in Industry”, the phrase “People, Process, and Technology” was put forth as a model for creating change in an organization. Partially due to its simplicity, it is as relevant today to address the challenges above as it was in 1964.
It is critical start with a full understanding of what exists in the environment today. All applications, services, and supporting infrastructure should be inventoried and documented. This will ensure nothing gets left behind and that there is a clear understanding of the current steady state infrastructure.
Once a complete inventory is created, each application and service can be evaluated to determine if it should be moved to the Cloud. If it is to move, is it best suited for public, private, or hybrid deployment or would it be better to move to a SaaS solution. Perhaps it can be decommissioned because there are duplicate services, or it is not being used anymore. It may also be determined that the application or service is not a good target to move. Perhaps it is a legacy application that can’t support more modern infrastructures.
This is also a good time to start reviewing Cloud service providers that may fit the requirements of your applications, your infrastructure, and your budget.
- Migration Planning
Now that we know what we are moving and where it is moving, we can start to put together a plan. During the migration planning phase workloads are prioritized for the order they are going to be moved, a budget is put together, a business case is made for each workload that is to be moved, and pilot migrations are performed where further design, performance, or reliability testing is needed. Once this stage is complete, a full migration roadmap along with buy in from all the interested parties within the organization should be secured.
- Migration and Testing
We are finally ready to start moving workloads to the Cloud. Once a workload is migrated, full testing should take place. Testing for performance, load, security, resilience and reliability should be performed. This is one of the most critical steps. It is much easier to mitigate issues when BEFORE going into production.
- Go Live
This is probably the shortest but scariest part of the process. After all the hard work, the plug is pulled on the original system and the new system in the Cloud goes live. All support processes should be transitioned to support the new cloud infrastructure and all documentation should be updated. After any issues are ironed out, a post migration review is always valuable to see if there are any ways to improve the migration process for the next workload.
Now that your organization is officially “in the Cloud”, the challenge of governance begins. For effective cost control in cloud computing services, it is important to understand the different factors that impact an organization’s cost and cloud cost management tools should be used to help discover the source of these inefficiencies. Unplanned costs are often due to a lack of visibility of current consumption and past trends. When organizations used on premise infrastructure, they financed it with fixed upfront CAPEX investments. Cloud consumption is an OPEX subscription model based on utilization. A shift in the approach to operational management is now needed. Optimizing for cost is as important as optimizing for performance.
Cloud-based governance tools can track usage and costs and alert administrators when costs are greater than budgeted. These same tools can be used to ensure corporate security policies are being applied to all workloads and that best practice security frameworks like Center for Internet Security (CIS) are being applied.
As cloud services move deeper into the organization, it’s as important as ever that technology leaders make informed decisions about which products, services and payment models deliver the best results and have adequate planning in place – but it’s not easy.
Article first appeared at Insights Success: https://www.insightssuccess.com/challenges-in-cloud-computing/
Author Bio: Joe Goldberg is the Senior Cloud Program manager at CCSI. Over the past 15+ years, Joe has helped companies to design, build out, and optimize their network and data center infrastructure. As a result of his efforts, major gains in ROI have been realized through virtualization, WAN implementation, core network redesigns, and the adoption of cloud services. Joe is also ITIL certified.