Expert Blog: Key Considerations when Migrating to the Cloud

Daven WinansBy: Daven Winans, Manager of Managed and Professional Services at US Signal.

Cloud computing may no longer be considered cutting edge, but there are still many companies that have yet to make the move to the cloud. A study by McKinsey & Company shows that most enterprises are only 20 percent of the way into their cloud journeys. If your company is among them but planning to migrate some or all of your workloads to a public cloud service soon, you may have some questions. Cloud migration isn’t necessarily easy, but it doesn’t have to be difficult if you approach it the right way. 

You’ve likely heard it before, not all workloads belong in the cloud. An audit of yours will help you determine if they do and, if they don’t, where they will perform best. Look at application dependencies. Investigate compliance requirements. Carefully assess apps that use legacy enterprise hardware. In some cases, they might be more expensive to run than cloud-based apps.

If an app wasn’t originally developed for the cloud, it may not perform at the level required. To get it to that level may require refactoring or rebuilding it. That entails time, money, and expertise. Keep in mind that you don’t have to move everything to the cloud. Employing a hybrid IT strategy, where you combine public and private clouds and colocation, will likely give you the best results.

Just because an app isn’t built for the cloud doesn’t mean it can’t be made to perform well there. Refactoring an app will enable it to work effectively with a variable number of running instances to allow dynamic scaling. Refactoring can also enable you to take advantage of cloud capabilities, such as dynamically allocating and de-allocating resources as needed instead of statically allocating them ahead of time. Just be sure to weigh the costs vs. benefits of the endeavor.

Choosing Your Integration Level 

There are various migration methods to use when moving workloads to the cloud, but it really comes down to two general options: the basic ‘lift-and-shift’ or a deep cloud integration. The lift-and-shift approach is just what it sounds like: you lift the app as is and shift it to the cloud. You make little or no changes to the servers you instantiate in the cloud to run the app. With a deep cloud integration, you’ll need to modify the app if you want to leverage the full benefits of the cloud. This may simply entail using auto scaling and dynamic load balancing. Or, you might need to go with a more sophisticated approach such as using serverless computing capabilities for portions of the application or a cloud-specific data store.

Cloud migration key performance indicators (KPIs) will help you determine if your cloud migration is successful. There are several key categories of cloud migration KPIs, such as user experience, application performance, and resource usage. For each category, determine which metrics are the most important to your business, and which will be most affected by your cloud migration. Then, set a baseline metric for each KPI.

Planning Your Switch Over 

An important part of your migration plan will be the switch over. One option is to move an entire app to the cloud and validate that it works. Then, switch traffic from the on-premise stack to the cloud stack. Or, you can move a few users over and test to make sure things are working. If all is good, you can move a few more. Continue this process until you’ve moved all your users to the cloud-based app.

About Daven Winans and US Signal

Daven Winans is Manager of Managed and Professional Services at US Signal. The company provides data center services, connectivity, cloud hosting, colocation, data protection, and disaster recovery solutions – all powered by their wholly owned and operated fiber network. US Signal also helps customers optimize their IT resources through managed and professional services.

US Signal recently opened its new Michigan data center in the Van Buren Township along the outskirts of Detroit. This 25,000 sq. ft. facility is the 2nd US Signal data center being built in the Greater Detroit Area. Designed to Uptime’s Tier III standards, US Signal has planned to expand the data center to 100,000 sq. ft.


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