Migrating to the Cloud

Migrating to the Cloud

A Step by Step of the Cloud Lifecycle

In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, companies of all sizes and in all sectors seek out ways to streamline operations and reduce both capital expenditure and operating costs. This is particularly true when the organizations primary business is not technical in nature, the IT functions required to maintain operational efficiency can prove especially costly – and those costs are often felt very acutely.  Fortunately, businesses today have a variety of options when it comes to controlling unexpected expenditure while also mitigating risks to the business in the form of downtime and security vulnerabilities.  One of those options is by moving critical business infrastructure to the cloud.

What is “the cloud”?  This term has been thrown around for more than a decade, even before the launch of Amazon’s venerable AWS offering in 2008, and has been taken by IT managers, CTO’s, CFO’s and CEO’s to mean a variety of different things.  For the purpose of this migration story, we’ll refer to the cloud as a set of computing resources or services running out of an internet connected facility or data center that is physically – and usually drastically so – separate from the primary place of business operation.  Cloud services can include traditional servers or “instances”, database services, messaging and queuing, automation, etc.  It can also include entire platforms, like Salesforce or Office 365.

Today, we’ll dive into what’s required to migrate critical business functions to the cloud, and how that process plays out from both the business side and the technology side.

Identifying Applications that are “Cloud-ready”

Not all applications are cloud ready.  Some business processes are latency sensitive or require extraordinary amounts of bandwidth.  These specific applications and business processes need to be collocated with the end user to ensure optimal performance.  While there are ways to increase bandwidth locally or reduce latency by choosing a cloud hosting facility close to your location, these decisions should be made based on the overall cost vs. the risk to the business for leaving these applications alone.

Applications that are cloud-ready include things like email, corporate websites and web-based applications, security applications, web application firewalls, and load balancers.

Selecting your “Cloud”

Selecting the appropriate cloud environment is fraught with risk.  The marketplace is saturated with companies seeking to win your business.  Most organizations will compete solely on a cost-basis, hoping that you’ll overlook their technological or staffing shortcomings in exchange for the lowest possible price.  Other vendors provide gimmick pricing based on hourly usage, which immediately looks cheap, but when extrapolated over the month ends up costing more than buying physical hardware yourself!

AM Data Service’s Cosmos Cloud offers what we believe is the middle ground – clear and easy to understand pricing, supported by technicians who fully understand your environment, hosted on enterprise-grade HPE hardware.  These are just a few of the reasons our customers have selected Cosmos over our competitors.

The Migration Process

Migration of critical data to the cloud is an extensive process.  Ensuring that all data is migrated without causing data loss or application downtime requires both planning and expertise.  Your selected cloud vendor should be able to assist you in the planning of your migration.  When migrating onsite servers to Cosmos Cloud servers, AM Data service engineers begin by ensuring that we establish a complete understanding of the application or service being migrated.  This would include documenting existing servers and networking diagrams and establishing any necessary service monitoring to ensure a smooth transition to the cloud.

Once documentation has been completed, AM Data Service engineers would begin the actual migration by establishing network connectivity between your current application and your Cosmos Cloud network island.  This island is used to provide dedicated, private networking like your local network, and is secured by a dedicated firewall provisioned as part of your cloud environment.

Next, your application servers are provisioned on your network island, and application installation begins.  AMDS engineers will provision the latest versions of your applications for you as part of a standard cloud migration and will ensure that the underlying operating systems are updated and secured.

After selecting an appropriate maintenance window, application data is then migrated to the new cloud servers.  Depending on the amount of data being migrated, this process can take a few minutes to a few days.  AMDS engineers follow the status of the migration step by step, ensuring that all data is fully migrated.  Once data migration is complete, application data will be verified for completeness before finalizing the migration.  Finalizing the migration will involve moving associated DNS records and testing the application for functionality.

In some instances, this cloud migration process can be even easier if the underlying systems powering your existing application can be powered off for a short period of time, our engineers may determine that a full migration of your existing environment is possible.  This full migration involves a block by block replication of your existing servers and is usually only possible if you are already utilizing virtual servers powered by VMware, Citrix, or another common hypervisor.

In Conclusion

Choosing a cloud vendor, when done with significant planning and engineering expertise, can be a painless and cost-effective way to improve application reliability, and to better manage ongoing IT spend.  By partnering with AM Data Service and migrating your applications to the Cosmos Cloud, you gain access to decades of combined cloud experience and effectively ensure your business moves firmly into the modern “compute as a service” age.