Embracing cloud technologies is crucial as leaders look for more flexible, agile, data-driven solutions that accelerate the pace of innovation — but cloud migrations can come with a range of complexities that too often hold companies back. While about 70% of companies are pursuing migration initiatives, 90% of CIOs report that managing on-premises and cloud platform complexity prevents these projects from meeting expectations.1
Yet many of these challenges can be foreseen and addressed with careful planning at the outset. Looking towards a cloud future? Our IT Technical Program Manager, Sumbul Ali, offers these guidelines and key questions to ask to be sure you’re prepared for cloud migration success.
1. What are your goals?
Defining your target outcomes can help you make a clearer case for cloud migration or modernization, get stakeholders on board, and ensure you have the support needed to see your vision through.
Get crystal clear about what you’re looking to achieve through cloud migration. That may be:
- Managing or reducing the costs of legacy systems, real estate, and engineering resources.
- Resource optimization.
- Growth through cloud-native innovation and data-powered products.
- Optimizing security and more effectively managing risk.
- Improving experiences for your teams or customers through seamless cloud-based systems.
A cloud architect can help you map out the architecture, from strategizing cost savings for your business to identifying resources required for migration success to assessing cloud compatibility for your critical applications.
2. Which cloud infrastructure model suits your needs: cloud-based, on-premise servers, or hybrid?
There’s no one-size-fits-all cloud solution. Determining the best infrastructure model for you depends upon multiple factors, including your technical and business needs.
Cloud technology has the edge when it comes to long-term cost reduction and management. It’s also beneficial if your application scalability is fluctuating and/or you expect future application expansion. Beyond its scalability and cost savings benefits, cloud technology also offers:
- Data protection.
- Disaster recovery by offering data hosting in multiple zones.
- Flexibility to access data and applications from anywhere in the world.
For those organizations with highly critical data and applications only used within the company, you may need to opt for an on-premises solution.
On-premises models consist of physical servers in a data center controlled and managed by your company, which demands significant resources. Companies are responsible for the management and security of both servers and real estate. In addition to handling disaster recovery, you may need to manage the application backup in servers at different physical locations.
Depending upon the budget, data load, and data sensitivity, companies can set up a hybrid cloud model by dividing data and application needs between a cloud and on-premises model. For instance, a hybrid model may have the database on-premises with the application end in the cloud.
If you choose a hybrid solution, keep the latency factor in mind. Because the data and application are divided into different models, there might be some latency in the communication. That’s why it’s crucial to map out an architecture to minimize the latency.
Serverless or server-based cloud frameworks
Cloud technology offers server-based (known as EC2 in AWS and VM in Azure) and serverless frameworks.
A serverless cloud offers many benefits — namely, no servers to manage and low overhead costs. With applications and data in the cloud, you don’t have to invest in off-premises servers and the resources needed to keep them running and maintained. That could involve anything from regular updates and upgrades to hardware to installing security patches.
Instead, the cloud provider handles all server management tasks, such as scaling, patching, and maintaining the infrastructure. This allows developers to focus solely on writing code for their applications and services without worrying about managing the underlying servers.
On the other hand, some companies may want to manage their own virtual servers in the cloud if they need full control and customization of their systems, from data storage and scalability to processing power. And while most managed cloud providers offer secure environments that meet industry requirements, certain regulations and constraints may also make the server-based model a necessity.
With a cloud specialist, evaluate your technical requirements and what it would take to successfully migrate your applications and workloads to the cloud, reviewing:
- The number of servers and services needed.
- Operating system and server configuration requirements.
- Critical applications.
- Security requirements.
3. Are your critical applications cloud-compatible?
Your most critical applications are likely the first in line when you’re planning for a cloud migration. Before you move forward, however, it’s crucial to analyze the underlying technology and take a holistic, long-term view of these critical apps.
Some applications can’t run in a cloud environment, like older legacy applications requiring certain hardware configurations. In these cases, you may need to maintain the legacy system until you begin to rewrite the old code or launch a new cloud-native application.
Also, think about:
- How long you’re planning to use applications. Maybe you’re running a dated e-commerce system and you’re looking to retire it within the coming 1 – 2 years. Investing in moving that application to the cloud may not make sense — but building a new, cloud-native app may be the better solution.
- Whether you’ll lift and shift or need to rewrite critical applications. Depending on the technology and the cloud compatibility, you may be able to pick up your existing apps and move directly into a cloud environment with minimal refactoring. But the existing code may not be salvageable for your current business needs, and these applications will require a rewrite.
4. Do you have the resources to build a serverless solution?
Managed cloud systems take the physical maintenance requirements of servers out of the picture. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need technical support to design, build, and operate in the cloud — and then maximize what the cloud can do for your business.
It’s crucial to work with a cloud specialist or expert developer with cloud experience to:
- Analyze your existing technology and compatibility requirements.
- Refactor or rewrite mission-critical applications.
- Design and deliver architecture for data migration.
- Manage the project to ensure that your solutions are in line with your business needs and goals.
Once you’ve launched in the cloud, you’ll want to have the resources necessary to:
- Continue monitoring your system’s performance to identify opportunities for optimization.
- Build new ways of working around the new technology.
- Make the most of the analytics and insights available in the cloud environment.
5. What cloud provider and technology is right for you?
Managed cloud providers, like Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Snowflake, each come with unique benefits and compatibility limitations.
Whether your focus is on security features or improved scalability, companies should work with a developer who understands their technology and business needs to determine the best cloud solution.
- Amazon AWS: A leading global cloud service provider, Amazon Web Services offers a host of services and features, including database services, storage, and computing. Its pay-as-you-go model also offers cost management controls.
- Snowflake: Known for its easy-to-use interface and powerful analytics capabilities, Snowflake could be a good fit for companies that need to store and analyze large data volumes. Plus, Snowflake is known for its separation of storage and compute functions, which can help control costs.
- Microsoft Azure: With its integration with the Microsoft product suite, Azure could be a solution for companies already working in the Microsoft environment. The Azure cloud offers a range of services, from analytics to databases to storage and networking.
If you’re already working within one cloud environment, however, you may want to continue working with a single provider.
6. How would you compare your existing costs and efficiencies with projected cloud costs and efficiencies?
Take a look at where your organization is now and the existing costs and resources required to run legacy systems. For instance, compare the costs of server-based systems and your projected cloud spending.
Maintaining on-premises data centers doesn’t just come with direct costs, like the upfront cost of purchasing physical servers, the cost of backup systems, or the technical depth needed to maintain them. The cost in time and opportunity is also a significant factor to weigh as you rethink your strategy.
For instance, think about the costs of data center downtime, including:
- The time, teams, and process required to diagnose and find a solve.
- The cost to the business when critical data systems and applications go down.
With managed cloud systems, you don’t have to worry about outages. You don’t have to think about having a backup in the cloud — it’s already backed up. If the provider’s system goes down, you won’t even know when and if the host’s data source switches.
While cloud-based solutions don’t require this kind of physical maintenance and troubleshooting, paying for a managed cloud environment comes with its own set of cost considerations — and optimizing those costs is crucial to cloud migration success.
7. How can you optimize costs with a cloud-based system?
You may know that managed cloud environments come with a monthly or usage-based price tag — and that uncontrolled usage can lead to higher spending.
But every cloud provider offers a unique set of features and pricing structures, and the key to managing costs in the cloud lies in leveraging the provider’s cost management features, monitoring where and how costs accrue, and establishing guardrails for use.
For instance, the Snowflake cloud offers query runtime limits and automatic scaling based on workload fluctuations, which can prevent the unnecessary use of compute resources and the accompanying costs.
Work with cloud experts for migration success
You may be ready to see the cloud’s potential for your company, but you may face roadblocks with modernization goals. Our engineers can help. Whether you’re in the beginning stages of cloud migration planning, facing challenges with legacy apps, or looking to scale your cloud team, we can analyze your technical needs and deliver the custom digital solutions you need to meet your goals.
At Blankfactor, we’re a digital partner and cloud solutions expert that can support you from end to end. From data engineering to application modernization, our experts are ready to help you optimize your digital journey and cloud migration success.
Contact us today for a 60-minute solution session.
Featured image from Freepik