Picking a cloud provider is never an easy task. As we round out the last of our Big 3 series on cloud migration, it’s clear that there is a never-ending list of features, products, and unique business needs to consider at every turn. However, while the search for the right cloud provider(s) might feel overwhelming, a focus on the “why” behind cloud migration (rather than a strict focus on tools and solutions) is key to staying on track.
In this article we’ll dive into the reasons why companies like Snapchat, Coco Cola, and the Home Depot are turning to the cloud to achieve their business objectives, along with 5 steps to migrate from on-prem to Google Cloud.
Notes from a Veracity Expert:
"Cloud vendor selection can be a daunting task, but there are several factors to keep in mind when selecting a cloud provider. Fundamentally, a provider should meet industry standards and support the needs of the business. Beyond that, the vendor should be able to supply a solution that utilizes technologies that align with your organization, now and in the future. Security, compliance, performance, and reliability are additional contributing factors. Many organizations often rush the selection and do not realize all the ramifications. This type of change has a direct impact on business owners and organizational structures. Furthermore, many do not evaluate their product fit and neglect digital transformation details. In order to fully understand the benefits, a business needs to assess why they want to move to the cloud and include an honest look at the associated costs. Systems should be evaluated for modernization opportunities with the thought of leveraging cloud benefits. Continually I am seeing many organizations utilizing multiple partners with an increase in the desire to create hybrid solutions between vendors. Creating a strategy that addresses the culture, risks, and expectations can ease the movement of stakeholders to cloud services. Partnering with an organization that understands cloud adoption can greatly reduce the risks of moving to cloud. Each vendor comes with unique challenges and great opportunities. No one vendor is the answer for every business. Picking the right solution is often more of an art than a science."
Chief Architect and Executive Security Director, Veracity Solutions
Why Migrate from On-Prem to Google Cloud?
Before we dive into the unique tools and specifications of Google Cloud, it’s important to understand why to migrate in the first place. As we’ve learned from previous articles On-Prem to AWS: 10 Steps to Cloud Migration and On-Prem to Azure: A Guide to Cloud Migration, there are countless business advantages to be gained through a move to the cloud, and Google Cloud is no exception.
Some business benefits of migrating to Google Cloud include:
- Reduced Risk – Migrating data and applications to a secure cloud-based platform offers world-class security that can’t always be achieved through an on-prem data center. By using redundancy, multi-layered infrastructure, and a global network, your private data stands resistant to attack.
- Dynamic Options for Customized Needs – Through options like public, private, hybrid, or even multi-cloud models, operating in the cloud removes the limitations previously held by stagnant data centers. One testimonial from L.L. Bean said, “Because of the complexity of our legacy IT system, data comes from multiple sources and gets integrated in real time. We didn't want our customer experience to be limited to a specific channel. We wanted them to experience L.L. Bean as a dynamic, innovative brand regardless of the channel.” Dynamic cloud capabilities give you the power to offer consistent, positive experiences for customers across all types of clouds.
- Convenience – Cloud migration almost always translates to saved time and improved convenience for your employees. Google Cloud’s managed cloud-native solutions make it simple for developers, who’s code can now be used across multiple channels without the need to reconfigure infrastructure at every turn. From here, saved time on each project can be invested into future innovations, increasing productivity across the board.
- Agility – Perhaps one of the greatest assets of the cloud is the fact that it lends itself to increased business agility. With the ability to operate live VM migrations without any downtime, increase the efficiency of employees, and automate manual processes, your business can achieve greater results in a fraction of the time.
- Innovation and Exploration of New Business Models – By utilizing Google Cloud, you also open yourself up to their ever-evolving AI and Machine Learning capabilities. Utilizing these innovations not only makes it possible to meet your current business expectations but charge ahead into new business models to come.
- Data-Driven Decision Making – Operation in the cloud often comes with access to powerful analytics that can analyze and track countless data points across your business. Quick and efficient data tracking can offer the insight you needs to make educated data-driven decisions that will best impact the organization.
- Cost Savings – Moving to the cloud not only saves money spent on infrastructure and hardware, but also reduces labor costs as many systems can now be automated or operated independently by Google Cloud’s support team. Google Cloud’s payment structure is also set up to bill by the minute, meaning that you’ll only pay for the uptime you actually use, and can invest cost savings into future innovations.
- Seamless Scaling – System upgrades that used to take months can now be made in mere hours with the infinite scaling power of the cloud. By spinning up servers automatically on an as-needed basis, organizations can seamlessly scale up or down to meet their ever-changing business needs.
- Improved Customer Experiences – What can an increased speed, reliability, limited downtime, and data-driven improvements mean for your business? Ultimately, the real beneficiary of these many improvements will be your customer. As they tap into improved digital experiences across your platforms, their satisfaction will result in loyal customers who keep coming back for more.
What Sets Google Cloud Apart?
As a growing cloud provider on one of the world’s largest global networks, Google Cloud offers some unique solutions to support your business objectives. Some of Google Clouds unique features include:
- One of the largest, privately distributed networks in the world, giving your data the protection of a private network, with limited reliance on the public internet.
- Google Fiber allows the network to operate at lightning speeds, decreasing load times and increasing operational efficiency. Reportedly, one client saw a decrease in load time by 50%.
- Billing-by-the-minute to ensure you never pay for services you won’t use or need.
- Redundant storage across multiple data centers in various regions across the world to ensure your data is always protected in the event of a crash.
- Live migration of virtual machines, allowing you to seamlessly migrate VMs without risking any downtime for maintenance, migration, or rebooting. After using Google Cloud’s live migration services, an article published by Kinsta reported, “As a WordPress hosting provider, this means we are basically always up with our VMs, with no noticeable degradation in performance when they are live migrating VMs between host machines.” (Jackson, 2019)
- Heightened security through encryption, authentication, and regular audits for security certifications and compliance. In addition, Google Cloud’s close relationships with ISPs allow them to eliminate the middleman in data transfers, allowing your data to get passed directly from point A to B without the need to be passed across the public internet.
On-Prem to Google Cloud in 5 Steps
Before beginning a cloud migration of any kind, it is highly recommended to speak with a cloud consultant who can assess your specific needs, map out a migration plan, and guide you through the cloud migration process.
Most Google Cloud migrations can be divided into five phases:
- Move Data
- Move Applications
Phase 1 – Assess
The assessment phase is crucial before beginning any migration. This is a great time to get an expert involved to help assess the needs of your organization, take inventory of your existing data and applications, and map out which items are best suited for the cloud. Some applications may be ready to move immediately, while some will take some rearchitecting. Additional applications may need to be rearchitected completely within the cloud, making them cloud native. As you define the needs of each application, you can begin to assign each with a migration strategy. Google Cloud’s three major migration strategies are:
- Lift and shift – Ideal for minimal changes to architecture that can be largely migrated “as-is” to the cloud.
- Move and improve – For applications that require a bit of rearchitecting before they’re ready for the cloud. Using the assistance of Google Cloud partner support, organizations will migrate their applications into containers as-is, then prepare for additional updates and enhancement post-migration to make them suitable for the cloud.
- Rebuild in the cloud – For applications that need to be completely rebuilt, Google Cloud offers a Serverless computing platform to help your team recreate apps that need to be cloud-native.
Phase 2 – Pilot
Once you’ve taken the steps to assess your applications, Google Suggests a sort of trial phase, in which you can begin migrating one or two applications. Through this process of trial and error, your team can receive valuable training on how to begin migration to the cloud, or even rollback if necessary. This is sort of an experimental phase that will prove valuable to your team as you continue migration down the line. But, remember to keep it simple to avoid biting off more than you can chew. Once teams have the basics down surrounding GCP, design patterns, validation, and security processes, you’re ready to move on.
Phase 3 – Move Data
Google Cloud takes the unique approach to migrate data BEFORE beginning to migrate all applications to the cloud. This is to satisfy the various dependencies that applications often have with their data. According to Google Cloud, once your data has been successfully migrated, you’ve set yourself up for a smooth application migration down the line. During this phase, it will be important to select various storage options, as well as any methods of transfer. Some of Google Cloud’s top storage options include:
- Google Cloud Storage - High availability, single API for all storage classes and workloads, fast and scalable with time to byte in just milliseconds, extremely durable.
- Nearline - Good for those who require slightly lower availability, lower at-rest storage costs, good for those who plan to read or update their data about once per month, great for data archiving.
- Local SSDs or persistent disks - Physical disks that are attached to servers that speed up IPOS, can be combined to offer up to 3 TB of storage space per instance, but may limit availability, durability, or flexibility
- Google cloud SQL - Fully managed services that make it easy to manage your servers in the cloud. Handles the day-to-day tasks for you so you can focus on building and improving your applications.
- Datastore - A NoSQL database that automatically scales and provisions your applications for you, so you’ll never have to worry about high load volume.
- Bigtable - A NoSQL database primarily focused on Big Data, extremely low latency, designed to handle massive amounts of data and integrate seamlessly with big data tools.
Phase 4 – Move Applications
By this point, you’re ready to begin moving your applications to the cloud. To avoid any major mistakes or disruptions right off the bat, Google Cloud recommends making simple moves first, and not worrying about unnecessary changes just yet. Deciding whether to lift-and-shift or simply back up your applications will be another crucial decision that can be made with the help of an expert.
Phase 5 – Optimize
Now that the basic migration has taken place, it’s time to begin optimizing. This is where the tweaking and improving of your applications can really begin to take place, and help you reap the many benefits of your cloud migration. Google Cloud offers many unique solutions to help you maximize your applications in the cloud. Some of these include:
- Stackdriver – Offers full observability to your cloud applications through a single database. With detailed insights and root-cause analysis, your teams can get better analyze each application and uncover any changes that need to take place.
- Google Cloud Pub/Sub – Enables communication between independent applications to improve performance, scale rapidly, and decouple applications.
- Google’s Deployment Manager – Enables automated configuring of applications, saving time and resources previously taken by manual processes. Simply specify the various requirements for your application, then rely on the Deployment Manager to assist with deployment, so you can focus on other innovations rather than deploying each item separately.
Google Cloud has a wide range of products and services to assist with a migration to the cloud. But, without first identifying the “why” behind cloud migration, these tools will do little to get you where you truly want to go.
Just as your business is unique, so too will be your cloud journey as you take stock of your needs and build a cloud strategy that’s right for. If you’d like help beginning your personal cloud journey, the team at Veracity Solutions can help. Set up a free hour to discuss what cloud migration could look like for you, and the many benefits you could gain by taking your business from on-prem to the cloud.