The decision to move from an on-prem data center to the cloud is one that is not only a strategic move to keep up with changing technology, but also one that offers significant business advantage for those who migrate successfully.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has quickly emerged as the leading cloud provider in total enterprise usage, and for good reason. With an expansive library of resources and services, AWS has all you need to take your on-prem data center off your hands, and provide greater accessibility, scalability, and security to help you meet your long-term goals.
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
Cloud Benefits: AWS vs On-Prem
As we recapped in our recent post on cloud migration, there are many unique benefits from moving to the cloud. When it comes to comparing AWS with an existing on-prem data center, the list goes on and on.
Benefits of AWS vs On-Prem:
- Lower maintenance and hardware costs – only pay for what you need, as you need it
- Access anytime, anywhere
- Hosted for you, don’t worry about maintenance, compatibility or upgrades
- Heightened security
- Quick deployment
- Lower energy costs
- High Availability and disaster recovery
- Removes hassle, allowing you to invest time and resources into other innovations
AWS itself has gathered data on the business value of migrating to AWS, including:
- 31% Average infrastructure cost savings
- 62% IT Staff Productivity Boost
- 94% Application Downtime Reduction
- 3x More Features delivered per year
It’s clear, the cloud offers significant advantage. But getting there takes some work. For a successful migration, careful planning and preparation must take place to ensure smooth sailing before, during, and after the migration begins.
Preparing for AWS Migration
Migrating to AWS can be a hectic and time-consuming endeavor. Business leaders will benefit from thorough planning to ensure their cloud migration is fit for their current financial, security, and technical needs. After all, one of the most common failures in cloud migration is lack of planning before-hand. Painting a clear picture of your goals, needs, and expectations will help create buy in from executive leadership, and set you on the right track for a successful cloud migration.
Step 1: Identify Your Business Objectives
Before any steps can be taken toward migration, you must first ask yourself the most important question: “What is the purpose of my cloud migration?” You might assume that a move to the cloud is simply the popular thing to do (and you’d be right), but without a game plan or an end goal in mind, you’ll be spinning your wheels before you even cross the starting line. As we identified in our recent feature on cloud migration, one of the most common reasons for failed migration is not aligning your cloud strategy with your business objectives.
Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) around your cloud migration plan that involve the current status of your organization, and where you hope to land post-migration. This will help you track your progress and understand if your migration has really paid off. Are you aiming for increased security? Faster response time? Improved cost-effectiveness? These are key questions that will impact the future decisions on your cloud journey.
Step 2: Select Your Cloud Type
The next vital step to planning your cloud migration is determining which type of cloud you want to use. This decision will be led by the objectives identified in your previous step, and each cloud type (public, private, and hybrid) serves a unique purpose. You can review the pros and cons different cloud types in Cloud Migration: A Key to Your Business Advantage. But all in all, selecting your cloud type will be determined by how much you want to continue to maintain it.
Ready to go all-in on the cloud? Public or private solutions might be right for you. Or, if you determine that you’ll need to keep at least a portion of your data center, a Hybrid plan might be right for you.
Step 3: Prepare Your Team
Setting up a team for an effective cloud migration involves a few key components.
- Dedicated Leadership - First, leaders must be committed and bought in. While the migration process will not always be smooth sailing, your teams will struggle to stick it out without the example of a fearless leader guiding the way.
- Train Your Teams - Once your leadership has the right mindset, it’s time to get your teams on board. Helping your teams understand the benefits of cloud migration can create buy in and increase motivation that their hard work and efforts will eventually pay off. You may also choose to begin training your teams to get them up to speed on AWS and features they’ll be using every day.
- Enlist an Expert - Once your teams and leadership are in place, you may still find that one valuable piece of the puzzle is missing. Enlisting the help of an expert (even from outside your organization) is often key to helping your migration run smoothly. Try selecting a partner with experience or certification in AWS, who can guide you through the inevitable twists and turns. The right expert may even be able to help train your teams in preparation for the cloud, leaving you with a well-equipped team post-migration. Not only will expert guidance get transformation off on the right foot, but may even help you get there faster, giving you more time to reap the benefits when you reach the other side.
Step 4: Compare Costs of On Prem vs AWS
Is AWS really cheaper than an on-prem data center? Before you make the leap you’ll want to evaluate the costs. But beware, you’ll want to account for more than just hardware. Make sure you consider:
- Hardware + Storage costs (servers and infrastructure)
- Maintenance and Labor
- Network costs
- Software licenses
In addition to these “direct costs,” you’ll also want to consider “indirect costs.” This includes things that might occur through technical errors or extended downtime like:
- Loss of productivity
- Damaged reputation
- Poor customer experience
While you may not consider these to be expenses, they all have an impact on your bottom line and could be improved with the right solution.
While identifying the cost of a migration might seem fuzzy or unpredictable, AWS has created tools like their Amazon Web Services (AWS) Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Calculator to help you get an idea of what you can expect to pay. Having the right expert on your side can also help you prepare for unexpected costs and gain a better idea of what you’ll pay down the road.
Step 5: Security and Compliance
What unique security regulations does your organization have? Depending on your industry, you will likely have a unique set of compliance needs when it comes to your data, which may determine how you approach your migration. Understanding your unique security standards will impact what policies, practices, or even Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) need to be put in place.
This is a great time to consult with an expert to gain a deeper understanding of what your platform needs, and what AWS can offer you on the other side.
As you identify and document your needs, you may find that there are pieces of information that require heightened security, or that you’d rather keep under your immediate control. If this is the case, a Hybrid cloud migration might be right for you. Work closely with your security advisors to identify which stores of data would do well in the AWS cloud, and which should remain in your on-prem data center.
Step 6: Technical Assessment
The next aspect of preparing for the cloud is identifying which of your applications make sense for cloud migration. Depending on your objectives and cloud strategy, some applications might make a better fit for the cloud and can be migrated fairly quickly, while others might take additional time, have complex interdependencies, or may need to remain in your on-prem data center all together.
When considering your technical needs, IBM Cloud Computing News offers a great list of questions to ask yourself as you enter this stage, including:
- “Which applications can be moved as-is, and which will require a redesign?”
- “If a redesign is necessary, what is the level of complexity required?”
- “Does the cloud provider have any services that allow migration without reconfiguring workloads?”
- “What is the return on investment for each application you will be moving, and how long will it take to achieve it?”
Step 7: Identify Your Cloud Migration Strategy
Once you’ve gained an idea of which applications you’d like to transfer and when, you can move forward with identifying your ideal cloud migration strategy. AWS identifies six possible cloud migration strategies. But for the purpose of migrating from on-prem to AWS, here are a few you may want to consider:
- Rehosting (Lift-and-Shift): This is ideal for organizations looking to migrate from their existing legacy systems (and on-prem data centers) to move them straight into the cloud. While shifting all applications at once may seem cumbersome, many organizations find this approach appealing as they can immediately eliminate their existing hosting costs and begin rearchitecting in the cloud right away.
- Replatforming: If you don’t feel comfortable moving all of your applications to the cloud right away, you may prefer was AWS refers to as “Replatforming.” In this approach, you may begin to optimize a few key aspects of your application but may not be ready to go all-in just yet. This approach allows organizations to manage their cloud transition one application at a time and make immediate changes in the areas that need it most.
- Retain: In some cases, it may simply not make sense to migrate an application to the cloud. If you find that It becomes more cost effective, secure, or otherwise necessary to leave certain applications on-prem, you can simply choose to retain them, and move forward with your cloud strategy in other areas. This is the epitome of a hybrid cloud approach, where some applications may move to the cloud, and others might remain otherwise untouched.
Step 8: Select Your AWS Tools
One of the many benefits of AWS is the expansive list of tools and services to assist with your migration. Regardless of the amount of data you store, the location of your data center, or the unique circumstances your applications require, AWS has a solution on the way.
Some of AWS’ top migration tools include:
|AWS Migration Hub||A one-stop resource to track the progress of every AWS tool you choose to use, designed to keep all of your migration efforts on track|
|AWS Application Discovery Service||This tool takes a deep dive into your existing data center to gather insights, map out interdependencies, and collect data to better understand your existing workloads. This tool then helps calculate your estimated Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) on AWS to help assist in your financial decision making|
|AWS Database Migration Service||Helps you migrate your server to and from major open-source databases with minimized downtime|
|AWS Server Migration Service||Helps coordinate and automate large-scale migrations from on-prem workloads to AWS|
|AWS Snowball||Assists in the transfer of petabytes of data in a simple, fast, and secure environment
|AWS Snowmobile||Assists in the transfer of exabyte-scale data, to conveniently transfer huge volumes of data to the cloud. Can even assist in full data center migration|
|AWS DataSync||Automates the transfer of storage between on-prem storage and AWS. Allows you to transfer data 10x faster than traditional open-source tools|
|AWS Transfer for SFTP||Designed to seamlessly transfer workflows into AWS, without disrupting your existing customers or partner applications|
More details on these and hundreds of other AWS tools can be found on the AWS website.
Step 9: Select Your AWS Storage Options
Just as your organization has unique security, financial, and technical needs, so will it have unique requirements for storage. AWS has no shortage of storage products at your disposal.
Before you decide which one, consider which factors are most important to you. Your priority might be cost, availability, response time, hybrid storage capacity, scalability, or a myriad of other factors. Once you’ve determined your needs, picking a storage solution becomes much simpler.
Take for example, the Amazon FSx for Windows File Server, designed specifically for supporting and transferring Windows-based applications.
Or AWS Storage Gateway, designed to work in a hybrid cloud storage environment and support your on-prem storage with storage capacity on demand.
Identifying your unique priorities will help refine your options will help determine which cloud storage option is right for you.
Step 10: Post-Migration Assessment and Upkeep
At this point, the bulk of your planning, decision making, and migrating has finally taken place. But a large part of your migration journey has only just begun.
Once your migration is complete, it’s time to revisit those KPI’s set during the first stage of your AWS migration. Keep tabs on how your organization is performing with the support of cloud infrastructure, then continue to monitor your progress over time. This will help paint a picture of how your cloud migration is panning off and continue to show executives how their investment is paying off.
Now is also a good time to become familiar with AWS support tools, to take advantage of all AWS has to offer. With the support of the AWS enterprise and your newly adopted tools, you’re on the right track for optimized workflows, increased productivity, and have taken you first step down the path to digital transformation.
Schedule a free hour with the Veracity Team to find out how we can help guide your AWS migration.