Moving your enterprise applications to a public cloud such as Microsoft Azure can mean new and improved capabilities to your business. But even if you have your own roster of experts within your business, cloud migration can still be a difficult task, especially if you do not have the right strategies or approaches in place.
Just one wrong move can potentially mean a waste of valuable time, resources and money. However, migrating to the cloud does not have to be a stressful experience. By following some simple guidelines, you can easily determine the best strategy for migrating your applications and take maximum advantage of the cloud. Below are four phases you can undertake to ensure a successful migration of enterprise applications to the cloud.
Before taking any significant steps in cloud migration, you have to assess your existing applications and their current states. In this stage, you can focus on four important attributes for assessing applications.
First is the platform, which is the combination of hardware, operating systems, application server subsystems and the actual code of an application required to execute it. It is necessary to know if you are utilising one of these that can be incompatible to the cloud.
Secondly, you have to consider the data for your applications. Are you running on relational database management systems (RDBMS) or NoSQL data storage systems? Avoid a mismatch between entity representation in the application and storage of that entity so you can have a smoother transition to the cloud.
That brings us to the third attribute, which is the connectivity between your applications and the data they need to run. Inconsistent network performance can hamper users’ ability to connect to applications or prevent applications themselves from accessing critical data stores or identity systems. That is why ensuring that your network provider has adequate service level agreements (SLAs) in place is a critical part of any cloud migration strategy.
Finally, you have to assess your security and compliance posture before migrating to the cloud, as it is a shared responsibility between you and your provider – not theirs alone.
When planning for application migration to the cloud, there are various approaches you can consider. The easiest one is the lift-and-shift method, where minimal work is required to move application resulting to faster migration and deployment.
However, it typically does not take advantage of native features of the cloud platform as you are only duplicating the existing on-prem application as precisely as possible in the cloud.
You can also consider a partial refactor method, which allows for a phased approach to adopting new cloud technologies without the overhead of a complete revolution in the application architecture.
To fully realise the potential of the cloud, you can consider the application re-architecting method where you are completely refactoring your applications. While this can be a complex undertaking, the long-term gains usually far outweigh the short-term pains of the other methods.
Preparation for migrating an application to Azure involves two key tasks:
Proof of Concept:
The Proof of Concept (PoC) is simply ensuring that your prior plan (which involves the methods mentioned before) is suitable for the application being migrated. Implementing such can give you insights on your actual migration to reduce complexity and even save valuable resources.
A pilot, on the other hand, can be more difficult than proof of concept, as you are conducting a test run of applications in conditions that resemble those of the real world as closely as possible to see if it would work – much like a pilot episode of a TV show.
In this task, your goal is to have end users interact with the application to determine usage characteristics and identify any potential barriers to success.
After taking these necessary steps, you can finally migrate your applications to the cloud. Azure offers automation tools to simplify the migration, but you can also hire third-party vendors who offer migration services to completely manage the process using expertise and tools developed over numerous migration projects with customers.
Rackspace Professional Services offers such capabilities, along with assessment and readiness offerings. Rackspace Technology can reduce the burden on your organisation’s staff on their migration efforts, and it is especially handy to have a guide that has been down that road before.
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