geese making a cloud migration much as your apps and infrastructure do

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Cloud hosting, also known as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), is on the rise. The broader segment of cloud infrastructure and services expanded by almost a quarter between 2016 and 2017, per a report released by Synergy Research Group. While software-as-a-service (SaaS) increased at a 31 percent rate, the combined area of platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and IaaS grew at an even more impressive (almost shocking) 47%.

Underscoring the growing popularity of cloud provided through a service model, the hardware and software that builds cloud systems is only growing at a third of the rate that the cloud services market is.

Since there is already a huge amount of IT infrastructure installed as legacy systems within on-site data centers, the shift to cloud will be rapid but certainly not immediate. In agreement with the growth trends suggested above, a poll released by SolarWinds in March 2017 revealed that 95% of IT decision-makers had moved critical apps and infrastructure to the cloud over the previous twelve months; but that’s just referencing single applications. An analysis by Constellation Research found that the portion of total workloads that have been transferred to cloud is just 5 to 7 percent.

The transition will need multiple generations of software and technology before it is at its peak. While any change can be complex and have its frustrations, the good thing for those shifting to IaaS is that many organizations have already made large cloud moves, so the migration can be informed by the common errors of others. 

Typical mistakes when migrating to cloud

Here are some of the most common mistakes that people make when they switch their infrastructure from on-premises systems to cloud service providers: 

Mistake #1 – Using the wrong cloud migration strategy

Forrester Research principle analyst Dave Bartoletti noted that the top way organizations will update their applications over the next few years will be by transitioning them to cloud.

While that may be true, it is very common for companies to move too hastily when they analyze the various approaches to cloud moves.

Bartoletti noted that there are many routes you can take when looking at how to get an application into an IaaS environment, adding that when you choose a method that is not best, “you can spend a lot of money and not get the payback you want.” 

Mistake #2 – Failing to assess your application portfolio

You need to first look at what you have, the apps that you will be migrating. It is wise to conduct a portfolio analysis, whether internally or via a consultant, to give you a sense of the applications that are ripest for a move. Cloudifying all your apps and systems at once can be overwhelming and lead to costly mistakes.

As noted in Computerworld, firms are smart to create two categories of apps, ones that are best suited for replacement and ones that are good fits for migration.

Another key point is that the concerns with security or compliance of an app should help to guide your decisions. While cloud is a secure location for computing that must meet the requirements of strict regulations (such as HIPAA), it is not necessarily the best choice to transfer the applications that contain the most critical, highly confidential data upfront.

Mistake #3 – Excessive customization of cloud

While you do not want to make the mistake of assuming all cloud systems to be the same, you also do not necessarily want to create a cloud infrastructure setting that is excessively customized – since that will mean that it will be difficult for you to systematize your approach and broadly implement it for application migrations. Marko noted that this scenario tends to arise when a migration is handled by one department, which uses service settings, security policies, and tailored management protocols that are too specific to be useful company-wide.

Mistake #4 – Not performing a business analysis upfront

A business analysis will tell you what the benefits are, and that analysis is key to understanding what your savings could be with a cloud deployment over your current setup.

Bartoletti noted that the business analysis should answer a few important questions:

  • Is the main concern that you save money or enhance your performance?
  • What are ways that you can optimize in order to save as much as possible and achieve the highest possible speed?
  • What are the migration tools that are best suited to this project?

Selection of those tools is more time-consuming that it may first appear, said Bartoletti, who added, “You don’t just Google search tools for migration and use the first one that pops up.”

Mistake #5 – Failing to understand how long integration will take

It is easy to think it will be quick to integrate cloud, as advised by Rishidot Research founder Krishnana Subramanian.

While cloud is simple, it can also make IT environments more complex, as when organizations are integrating cloud with in-house infrastructure and apps. Since that is the case, integration should be considered prior to cloud adoption.

There should always be a broad design to your architecture that extends across all systems, explained Wang, who added, “Then you have to figure out what’s owned, accessed, and borrowed.”

You also might have to make adjustments to the code for an application to work correctly in an IaaS setting, as noted by Bartoletti. For instance, you might have to change the code so that it uses cloud storage rather than a local file system.

Mistake #6 – Forgetting to prioritize your security policies

Your security policies could start to break away from standardization, lacking complete coverage and consistency, when you transfer to cloud infrastructure. Your firm has user authorization and access, event monitoring and logging, app and system configuration, network traffic, and other security requirements. The policies will not go away with cloud, and they may well become stricter. It is critical to have various layers to your security stance if you want to keep your systems and data protected in cloud.

Mistake #7 – Falling short with your training 

Often IT professionals are not as knowledgeable about cloud as other technologies, particularly when they are performing an initial cloud move. Recruiting people who specialize in cloud can be prohibitively costly.

One way or another, having the insight into cloud will minimize the amount of time it takes for the transition and prevent frustrating issues from arising unexpectedly. Plus, when you have completed the move, you may determine that the disorganization of an on-site system still exists, just instead on cloud servers. Granted, with the right provider, you can get the help you need for a seamless migration.

Mistake #8 – Thinking cloud hosting is cloud hosting

Speaking of the provider, one of the main mistakes that people make when they adopt IaaS is thinking that all cloud hosting is fundamentally the same, as indicated by Kurt Marko. There are certainly aspects that are shared by cloud infrastructure solutions, such as various kinds of storage and virtual servers. However, there are specific elements of individual cloud hosting environments, including the billing plans, features, and the complexity of network and application services available. Focus on security and the level of performance will also vary from one provider to the next.

Choosing your cloud host

By paying attention to common mistakes made by those who went before you, you can more confidently move forward with a cloud migration. As indicated by Marko, one of the key mistakes is to think that IaaS providers are all the same. Do you need a cloud host that combines outstanding speed with the stringent security standards of the American Association of CPAs? At Total Server Solutions, we believe that a cloud-based solution should be secure, scalable, reliable, fast, and easy to use. See our High Performance Cloud Platform.