Crucial cloud migration strategies

Planning for a successful cloud migration? Follow these steps

Agencies prefer private cloud deployments for their security and ease-of-use. However, as agencies continue migrating to a public or community cloud, they are being challenged to do so in a way that protects data and quality of service while capturing any anticipated costs savings.

There are four common ways that people move IT resources into the cloud. The first is the forklift model — essentially, IT takes a box and moves it directly into the cloud. Some IT departments choose to refactor an application to move it. Still others will move an application onto an infrastructure-as-a-service offering. Finally, some organizations look to the software-as-a-service model, moving data while using the provider’s infrastructure. Although there is no best way to move to the cloud, there are some best practices that can help the IT department be more successful, whatever methodology it is looking to use. Here are four steps that all IT departments should consider.

Perform a portfolio rationalization. This step is straightforward and simple. IT must look at its assets, identify the most mission-critical components, and categorize public-facing and private-facing resources. It will be imperative to sort out application, storage and compute fabric interdependencies. IT executives need to understand how data flows throughout an organization and identify any points of intersection that would be broken if one or more elements moved to the cloud.

Once this accounting is complete, CIOs should do the math and analysis to see if their intended targets would move easily into the cloud. It will be important to identify workloads that won’t do well in the cloud so you can focus on what will, says one expert. “You are always going to have a set of things that you don’t want to change, but this process will identify those elements that will work well in a cloud journey,” says Yogesh Khanna, chief technology officer at business solutions, technology and outsourcing provider CSC's North American Public Sector.

Virtualize and consolidate as much as you can. The more you automate, consolidate and modernize your existing infrastructure, the more quickly you can move it into the cloud — and the more successful you will be at the task, according to Deltek, a Herndon, Va.-based provider of software, services and research. The cloud itself is highly virtualized and automated, so there are some things that simply won’t move efficiently without going through a similar process.

Prepare the troops — and the infrastructure. From a management perspective, moving to the cloud requires some education and mitigation. There are some in IT who will avoid the cloud, citing security issues, but their main concerns might be that they are architecting themselves out of a job. In these cases, re-education and training can help turn cloud naysayers into cloud proponents. For instance, someone who used to configure all the servers in the data center will have to learn how to manage resources in the cloud. It also helps to have a cloud champion internally, someone at the senior level who pushes the cause and provides financial and manpower support when needed.

On the infrastructure side, IT must be sure that the transport capabilities to move data to and from the cloud are up to the task. This might mean increasing bandwidth on the internal network or expanding T1 connectivity. Internal systems might need to be architected to work with the cloud, so this should be researched carefully before a single bit of data moves into the cloud.

Create a relationship with your provider. IT should make providers aware that it will expect complete transparency from them on topics such as performance, upgrades and security, but it should also be willing to disclose future plans. CIOs can also benefit from adopting and using cloud migration tools and services that can help make the virtualization process simpler.

About this report

This report was commissioned by the Content Solutions unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Government Information Group. Specific topics are chosen in response to interest from the vendor community; however, sponsors are not guaranteed content contribution or review of content before publication. For more information about 1105 Government Information Group Content Solutions, please e-mail us at [email protected].