Cloud migration, how I do I actually get my apps to the cloud?

Cloud MigrationYou’ve decided to move to the cloud, great! Cloud migration full steam ahead. Now how do you actually get there…

Generally speaking there are 3 methods to move/migrate to the cloud which are;
– Build the applications fresh in the cloud
– Use tools to replicate existing workloads as is
– Redesign your applications for the cloud Webscale Webscale WEBSCALE!

All three have drastically different methods some of which are easy and some incredible hard. In this article we will be pulling back the covers and discussing all three such that when you’ve made the decision in your business to go to the cloud you can start your journey comfortably and with the knowledge of what method will be best for you.

Build the applications fresh in the cloud

This is the bread and butter of every cloud provider and is most definitely the simplest and fastest way to get started.

Typically on premises each customer will use a mix of Linux and Windows operating systems. Every provider has a varied selection of operating system templates from which you can simply spawn from and begin to use in a matter of minutes.

When to use this method

  1. You wish to coincide the move to the cloud with an OS upgrade say from Windows 2012 to 2016.
  2. Possibly don’t have the skills in-house to use the migration tools required for the other methods.
  3. When there are problems in your current environment and you’d like to ‘start fresh’.
  4. The uses case is mainly testing and you just need it up quick.

Use tools to replicate existing workloads as is

Often the VMs you are running in the business have had hundreds or thousands of man (or woman) hours setting them up and getting them perfect. The idea that you should ‘build it all again’ really isn’t an option in a lot of cases. The skills needed to do this may have left the organisation or the setup time/effort is just too great at this point in time making the prospect unrealistic.

All cloud providers have different tools to accomplish copying/replicating the workloads in which all their own differing pros and cons. The options available in this space are;

  • HDD/NAS – Giving your cloud provider a recent copy of your VMs on a hard drive or NAS by way of a full backup via Veeam, Commvault, Backup Exec etc.

Pros – No impact on production. Uses tools you are already comfortable with.

Cons – Significant change freeze window. Typically takes considerable time to send in and copy up.

  • Replication – Typically by installing a management VM or agent into your environment you can seed your workloads into the cloud and then when ready you can stage a fail-over when you’ve tested that it works how you imagine it to. Products that allow this are Veeam Cloud Connect Replication, Zerto and Double Take. Most will work into AWS and Azure and all work migrating into Zettagrid.

Pros – Gives very little change freeze once seeded and very fast fail-over time.

Cons – Some effort required to setup and depending on the product it may need software/agents installed. The bandwidth needed to seed could be considerable.

When to use this method

  1. Downtime is not an option.
  2. You cannot rebuild the application for whatever reason.
  3. There is adequate bandwidth to replicate the data.
  4. You have a trusted partner or skills in-house to assist with the setup.

Redesign your applications for the cloud Webscale Webscale WEBSCALE!

The third option when moving to the cloud is to alter how all your applications work to remove their reliance on individual operating systems or VMs and become truly Webscale.

A lot of the progressive customers i talk have started to say they have a “cloud first strategy”. Some of these will articulate that further and say they have an “AWS cloud first strategy”.

Often when talking to that same customer will re-evaluate that statement later on and say that whilst they still intend on getting to AWS, they will say that they are in need of a more traditional cloud provider in the interim before they can go to AWS. This is often because they underestimated the effort required to redesign their applications to be Webscale ready.

The effort to remove that reliance on single VM based and operating system based architecture into a true webscale or SaaS based environment can be very daunting. From talking to industry professionals around this matter the time taken whilst different for each company is in the realm of multiple years to make the switch (if at all possible).

Pros – The up-time of your applications will be considerably increased as it no longer is reliant on an operating system and VM that can go down. It can scale up or down at will. It can allow users from all around the world to access applications from a location local to them.

Cons – The redesign itself is generally a very labour intensive process and very cost prohibitive when taking into consideration all the development effort required.

When to use this method

  1. Your company is experiencing outages because of the single instance of VMs.
  2. The business is in need of rapid expansion.
  3. The applications to be accessed locally no matter where users are.
  4. You have the skills and drive to be able to tackle the redesign effort.

Conclusion

I hope these have been helpful for you when working out how to get to the cloud. Let me know about your cloud migration. How you have been migrating into the cloud? What items you think are important when deciding how to migrate in.

Luke Brown

Author: Luke Brown

Luke Brown is an Advisory Systems Engineer at Dell EMC. He is passionate about all things tech and loves a good debate.

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