The scales have finally tipped! According to a Flexera survey, 93% of organizations have a multi-cloud strategy and 53% are now operating with advanced cloud maturity. For those who are now behind the bell curve, it’s a reminder that keeping your data architecture in an on-premises solution is detrimental to remaining competitive. On-prem architecture restricts your performance and the overall growth and complexity of your analytics. Here are some of the setbacks of remaining on-prem and the benefits of data migration from legacy systems.
For most organizations, data architecture did not grow out of an intentional process. Many on-prem storage systems developed from a variety of events ranging from M&A activity and business expansion to vertical-specific database initiatives and rogue implementations. As a result, they’re often riddled with data silos that prevent comprehensive analysis from a single source of truth.
When organizations conduct reporting or analysis with these limitations, they are at best only able to find out what happened – not predict what will happen or narrow down what they should do. The predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics that organizations with high analytical maturity are able to conduct are only possible if there’s a consolidated and comprehensive data architecture.
Though you can create a single source of data with an on-prem setup, a cloud-based data storage platform is more likely to prevent future silos. When authorized users can access all of the data from a centralized cloud hub, either through a specific access layer or the whole repository, they are less likely to create offshoot data implementations.
Slower Query Performance
The insights from analytics are only useful if they are timely. Some reports are evergreen, so a few hours, days, or even a week doesn’t alter the actionability of the insight all that much. On the other hand, real-time analytics or streaming analytics requires the ability to process high-volume data at low latency, a difficult feat for on-prem data architecture to achieve without enterprise-level funding. Even mid-sized businesses are unable to justify the expense – even though they need the insight available through streaming analysis to keep from falling behind larger industry competitors.
Using cloud-based data architecture enables organizations to access much faster querying. The scalability of these resources allows organizations of all sizes to ask questions and receive answers at a faster rate, regardless of whether it’s real-time or a little less urgent.
Plus, those organizations that end up working with a data migration services partner can even take advantage of solution accelerators developed through proven methods and experience. Experienced partners are better at avoiding unnecessary pipeline or dashboard inefficiencies since they’ve developed effective frameworks for implementing these types of solutions.
More Expensive Server Costs
On-prem data architecture is far more expensive than cloud-based data solutions of equal capacity. When you opt for on-prem, you always need to prepare and pay for the maximum capacity. Even if the majority of your users are conducting nothing more complicated than sales or expense reporting, your organization still needs the storage and computational power to handle data science opportunities as they arise.
All of that unused server capacity is expensive to implement and maintain when the full payoff isn’t continually realized. Also, on-prem data architecture requires ongoing updates, maintenance, and integration to ensure that analytics programs will function to the fullest when they are initiated.
Cloud-based data architecture is far more scalable, and providers only charge you for the capacity you use during a given cycle. Plus, it’s their responsibility to optimize the performance of your data pipeline and data storage architecture – letting you reap the full benefits without all of the domain expertise and effort.
Hindered Business Continuity
There’s a renewed focus on business continuity. The recent pandemic has illuminated the actual level of continuity preparedness worldwide. Of the organizations that were ready to respond to equipment failure or damage to their physical buildings, few were ready to have their entire workforce telecommuting. Those with their data architecture already situated in the cloud fared much better and more seamlessly transitioned to conducting analytics remotely.
The aforementioned accessibility of cloud-based solutions gives organizations a greater advantage over traditional on-prem data architecture. There is limited latency when organizations need to adapt to property damage, natural disasters, pandemic outbreaks, or other watershed events. Plus, the centralized nature of this type of data analytics architecture prevents unplanned losses that might occur if data is stored in disparate systems on-site. Resiliency is at the heart of cloud-based analytics.
It’s time to embrace data migration from legacy systems in your business. 2nd Watch can help! We’re experienced with migration legacy implementations to Azure Data Factory and other cloud-based solutions.
Organizations are looking to leverage the power of cloud computing to create new digital business models and drive operational efficiency. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the leading cloud computing platforms that help companies become more agile and cost-efficient to deliver on business objectives and priorities. As companies embrace cloud adoption for more reliable, cost-effective, and secure storage solutions, investing in AWS consultants has become a crucial part of the process.
AWS cloud services provide a tremendous opportunity for business development and growth, especially when combined with a reputable cloud consultant. AWS cloud computing allows organizations to safely and securely store vast amounts of data while ingesting and processing that data to make it actionable. It also enables IT teams to increase scalability and capability quickly and efficiently, so businesses can stay ahead of their competition.
A cloud consultant experienced in working with AWS cloud technology can ensure that cloud strategies align with organizational needs, providing tailored solutions for maximum innovation and profit potential. By utilizing cloud computing consulting services from AWS, businesses can leverage cutting-edge cloud solutions to drive competitive advantage.
Working with AWS consultants like 2nd Watch can help your organization harness the technology that AWS offers, modernizing your business operations and transforming your IT infrastructure to solve your business challenges and hit critical business goals.
What is AWS Consulting?
AWS consulting services offer businesses a range of solutions and expertise to facilitate your organization’s success with cloud migration and in-cloud processes. These services include advising on best practices, migrating existing applications, building new applications, and optimizing overall performance. AWS consultants are highly experienced professionals who have a deep understanding of the AWS platform and provide invaluable insights into how it can be used within an organization to support digital transformation.
The value of working with these experts is that they understand the complexities of managing AWS’s infrastructure, cloud-native solutions, database services, and developer tools. AWS consultants analyze an organization’s existing setup and recommend practices for improved efficiency, scalability, security, cost optimization, reliability, and other aspects of their cloud environment. For example, they can help to ensure that an organization’s environment is properly configured and securely managed, so data remains safe and accessible to users. They can also provide expert guidance on which additional resources may be needed for more robust performance.
The Benefits of Working With an AWS Consultant
The main goal of any AWS consultant is to help businesses make the most of their investments in AWS products and services. This includes helping them choose appropriate services (such as Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, or Amazon RDS,) providing advice on configuring their environment correctly, ensuring their applications run efficiently in the cloud, and optimizing costs by scaling up or down resources as needed. Moreover, AWS consultants can help set up automated processes, such as deploying new versions of software or monitoring performance metrics. Most importantly, they can also offer advice on security best practices when working with sensitive information in the cloud.
By taking advantage of an experienced AWS consulting team, businesses can benefit from numerous advantages, including reduced costs, improved performance, scalability, and flexibility. With a tailored approach, organizations can positively impact their bottom line by leveraging the right combination of services and resources offered by AWS, such as compute power, storage capacity, database solutions, content delivery networks (CDNs), analytics tools, and machine learning capabilities, among others.
Working with an AWS consultant will improve performance by quickly spinning up new resources and scaling their existing infrastructure as needed without worrying about additional hardware or software investments. Additionally, AWS consulting teams will assist with migrations and optimization processes so that businesses can ensure their operations are running smoothly with minimal disruption or downtime.
Investing in an Experienced Team
When it comes to leveraging cloud computing platforms like AWS, organizations need to invest in an experienced team that understands both the technology as well as the business objectives of the organization. Good consultants should provide best practices while understanding the strategies that will work best for an organization’s specific needs. Organizations will increase their chances of success and ROI with the cloud when they invest in an experienced team.
Partnering with the right experts will maximize the opportunities and services offered by AWS.
Companies can learn how to utilize AWS database services better and develop tools that meet their IT and business objectives. This can help businesses optimize their IT infrastructure while reducing capital expenditures, which will maximize profit potential. Through AWS consulting, organizations have access to cloud-based solutions that allow them to run their applications faster, scale easily and cost-effectively, increase security, provide insights into customer behavior and create innovative products. Ultimately, beyond the technical aspects, AWS consulting can help organizations achieve peak performance both operationally and financially.
Harnessing the power of AWS provides businesses with many benefits, including cost savings, improved performance, scalability, and flexibility. However, these benefits can only be realized if you have an experienced team guiding your transformation efforts. Investing in a qualified AWS consulting team allows organizations to take full advantage of this technology while ensuring that their operations remain secure and compliant with industry standards. Having access to experts who understand both your business objectives as well as how best to leverage this technology will give you peace of mind knowing that your transformation project is being handled correctly from start to finish.
2nd Watch employs a cloud transformation framework and methodology for every engagement guaranteeing quality, consistency, and completeness. We start by listening to identify and strike a balance between innovation, self-sufficiency, risk, and cost. We then work with you to determine where you are in your cloud journey and assemble a tailored bundle of services to meet your IT business objectives.
We have been recognized by AWS as a Premier Partner since 2012 and as an audited and approved Managed Service Provider for our outstanding customer experiences, the depth and breadth of our products and services, and our ability to scale to meet customer demand. Our engineers and architects are 100% certified on AWS, holding over 200 AWS certifications.
Contact us today to learn how 2nd Watch takes a phased approach to modernization with AWS!
Software & Solutions for Marketers is the final installment in our Marketers’ Guide to Data Management and Analytics series. Throughout this series, we’ve covered major terms, acronyms, and technologies you might encounter as you seek to take control of your data, improve your analytics, and get more value from your MarTech investments.
In this last section, we will cover various aspects of software and solutions for marketing, including:
The differences between the cloud and on-premise (on-prem) solutions
Customer data platforms (CDP)
Custom development (custom dev)
Cloud vs. On-Prem
Also known as “cloud computing,” the cloud is a global network of software and services that run over the internet on someone else’s server, as opposed to running locally on your computer or server.
Why It Matters for Marketers:
Get the flexibility your business needs. Today’s marketing teams are mobile, require a variety of working schedules, and are often spread across geographies and time zones. Cloud-based software and services are accessible by any device with an internet connection, quick to set up, and reliable to access, regardless of the user’s location or device.
Deliver the level of service your customers expect. Hosting your website or e-commerce business on the cloud means your site won’t get bogged down with high traffic or large data files. Additionally, hosting your data in the cloud reduces the amount of siloed information, empowering teams to work more seamlessly and deliver a higher quality, more personalized experience to customers.
Spend your money on campaigns, not infrastructure. While many softwares are sold with on-premise or cloud options, the cloud-native options (tools such as Snowflake, Azure, AWS, and Looker) enable marketers to use these technologies with little to no reliance on IT resources to maintain the back-end infrastructure.
Most marketing organizations use cloud-based applications such as Salesforce, HubSpot, or Sprout Social. These cloud-based applications allow marketing users to quickly and reliably create, collaborate on, and manage their marketing initiatives without being tied to a single location or computer.
On-premise or on-prem refers to any software, storage, or service run from on-site computers or servers.
Why It Matters for Marketers:
Most marketing software is run on the cloud these days. Cloud solutions are faster, more dynamic, and more reliable.
So why would a business choose on-prem? Today, there are two main reasons a business might still have on-prem software:
The company is in a highly regulated industry where data ownership or security are big concerns.
The company has legacy on-prem solutions with massive amounts of data, making the switch to cloud more challenging.
However, many of these companies still recognize the need to update their infrastructures. On-prem is harder to maintain and has reduced up-time as glitches or breaks are fixed at the speed of IT teams. What’s more: on-prem solutions can bottleneck your insights and ability to deliver insights at scale.
With this in mind, even companies with more complicated situations can use a hybrid of cloud and on-prem solutions. By doing this, they migrate less sensitive information to the cloud while keeping more regulated files on their own servers.
In marketing, it’s likely that most data will be in the cloud but if you’re working with a client in a highly regulated industry, like government or healthcare, you might have some on-premise data sources.
Healthcare companies have patient privacy regulations like HIPAA about how customer data can be used, including marketing campaigns. In this case, an on-prem solution might be a better alternative to protect patients’ rights.
Customer Data Platform (CDP)
A customer data platform is a software solution that synthesizes customer data from various sources to keep them in sync with each other. CDPs often additionally offer the ability to send this data to a database of your choice for analytics.
Why It Matters for Marketers:
CDPs allow your various tools (such as your CRM, Google Analytics, and e-commerce systems) to stay in sync with each other around customer data. This means if you change a detail about a customer in one system, everyone else sees this update come through automatically without any manual updating.
CDPs make it really easy to create quality account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns. CDPs deliver a persistent, accurate, and unified customer base, making it easy to use data throughout the ABM campaign.
For example, selecting and validating target accounts uses data from across your entire organization. Once pulled into the CDP, you can perform analytics on that data to identify the best accounts to go after. You will have thousands of attributes to better understand which customers are more likely to purchase.
One note: CDPs do not usually tie these customers and their information to other subject areas like products, orders, loyalty, etc. They are also not meant for analytic use cases. If you are doing deeper, company-wide analysis, you might want a data warehouse.
Custom development, or custom dev, is a term that refers to any application or solution developed to satisfy the requirements of a specific user or business rather than for general use.
Why It Matters for Marketers:
Even the best out-of-the-box software or solutions are designed to overcome the challenges of a broad user base, providing functionality that only satisfies generalized needs. Custom dev solutions address your specific business needs in a way that gives you a competitive advantage or reduces the amount of time spent trying to make a generic software match your unique needs.
One retail company was receiving flat files from a monthly vendor report that were hard to integrate with the rest of their reports. This made it challenging to get the deeper insights their marketing team needed to make informed omni-channel decisions.
As there were no tools available in the market with a connector to their system, a custom dev solution was needed. An application was created to automatically take in these flat files from the vendor so the marketing team could receive new data without the lengthy request and ingest process that relied heavily on IT resources. This enabled the marketing team to easily target the same customer across channels by using personalized campaigns that aligned with purchasing habits and history.
Another example of custom dev is the implementation of automated customer touchpoints. Adding features that trigger events based on business rules is a great way to personalize your customers’ experience. For example, you could create a rule that emails customers a coupon for their most frequently purchased product when they haven’t made a purchase in the past six months.
Throughout this Marketers’ Guide to Data Management and Analytics series, we hope you’ve learned about the different tools to manage, integrate, analyze, and use your data more strategically to get the most out of your investments. Please contact us to learn how we can help build and implement these various solutions, so you can better understand your customer base and target your customers accurately.
When making a cloud migration, a common term that gets tossed around is “cloud optimization”. If your organization is new to the cloud, optimizing your environment is essential to ensuring your migration pays off quickly and continues to do so in the long term.
If your organization is already established in the cloud, you may observe higher costs than expected due to cloud sprawl, under-utilized resources, and improper allocation of resources. Cloud optimization helps your organization reduce these costs and improve overall efficiency in the cloud
What is cloud optimization?
The definition of cloud optimization may vary from one cloud service provider to another, but generally, cloud optimization is the process of analyzing, configuring, provisioning, and right-sizing cloud resources to maximize performance and minimize waste for cost efficiency. The reality is that many organizations’ cloud environments are configured in an inefficient manner that creates unnecessary cloud spend. With proper cloud optimization tools and practices, these unnecessary costs can be eliminated.
While cloud optimization is mostly discussed in terms of cloud spend, cost optimization is simply a faucet of cloud optimization and can extend to overall performance and organizational efficiency. Some examples of cloud optimization practices that your organization can adopt right now include:
Right-sizing: Matching your cloud computing instance types (i.e. containers and VMs) and sizes with enough resources to sufficiently meet your workload performance and capacity needs to ensure the lowest cost possible.
Family Refresh: Replace outdated systems with updated ones to maximize performance.
Autoscaling: Scale your resources according to your application demand so you are only paying for what you use.
Applying Discounts: Reserved instances (RIs) allow companies to commit to cloud resources for a long period of time. The longer the discount and the more a company is prepared to pre-pay at the beginning of a period, the greater the discount will be. Discounted pricing models like RIs and spot instances will drive down your cloud costs when used according to your workload.
Identity use of RIs: Identifying the use of RIs can be an effective way to save money in the cloud if used for suitable loads.
Eliminate Waste: Regulating unused resources is a core component of cloud optimization. If you haven’t already considered cloud optimization practices, you are most likely using more resources than necessary or not certain resources to their full capacity.
Why is cloud optimization important?
Overspending in the cloud is a common issue many organizations face by allocating more resources to a workload than necessary. Integrating cloud optimization practices can reap many benefits for your cloud infrastructure and your organization, including the following:
Cloud Efficiency: When workload performance, compliance, and cost are continually balanced against the best-fit infrastructure in real-time, efficiency is achieved. Implementing cloud optimization practices will eliminate as much cloud resource waste as possible, increasing the performance of your cloud environment.
Cost Savings: Although cloud optimization comes in a variety of forms, cost optimization is the most important component for many organizations. By reducing waste in the cloud, costs are reduced as a byproduct.
Greater Visibility: Cloud optimization practices utilize analytics to provide visibility into your cloud environment to make data-driven decisions. Implementing optimization tools also provides cost visibility, so your organization has a better perspective on cloud spend.
Increased Productivity: Once a cloud optimization strategy is implemented, IT teams will spend less time trying to solve problems because an optimized environment prevents problems before they occur.
Organizational Innovation & Efficiency: Implementing cloud optimization often is accompanied by a cultural shift within organizations such as improved decision-making and collaboration across teams.
What are cloud optimization services?
Public cloud services providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud have over 500,000 distinct prices and technical combinations that can overwhelm the most experienced IT organizations and business units. Luckily, there are already services that can help your organization achieve the cloud optimization it needs to drive business outcomes. Cloud optimization services help your organization identify areas of improvement in your cloud for cost savings and efficiency, create an optimization strategy for your organization, and can manage your cloud infrastructure for continuous optimization.
At 2nd Watch, we take a holistic approach to cloud optimization. We have developed various optimization pillars based on real-time data to ensure your cloud environments are running as efficiently as possible. Behind our solutions for cloud optimization is a team of experienced data scientists and architects that help you maximize the performance and returns of your cloud assets. Our services offerings for cloud optimization at 2nd Watch include:
Strategy & Planning: Define your optimization strategy with our proven methodology, tailored to meet your desired business outcomes and maximize your results.
Cost Optimization Assessment: Gain the visibility necessary to make data-driven decisions. Identify opportunities across our Pillars of Optimization to maximize cost savings and cloud environment efficiency.
Spot Instance & Container Optimization: Save up to 90% compared to traditional cloud infrastructure by running both Instances/VMs and Containers on spot resources for relevant workloads.
Multi-Cloud Optimization: Cloud optimization on a single public cloud is one challenge but optimizing a hybrid cloud is a whole other challenge. Apply learning from your assessment to optimize your cloud environment for AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and VMware on AWS.
Forecasting, Modeling, & Analytics: Understand your past usage, and model and forecast your future needs with the analytical data needed for visibility across your organization.
Our cloud optimization process starts with data, and you have a lot of it. But data alone can lead you astray yielding wasted resources and overspend. There are many other factors to evaluate, such as EDP/EA agreements and Savings Plans/RI Purchases, to ensure you choose the most cost-effective option for your business. Strategically, our data scientists and architects map connections between data and workloads. We then make correlations between how workloads interact with each resource and the optimal financial mechanism to reach your cloud optimization goals.
Cloud Optimization with 2nd Watch
Working with a managed cloud service provider like 2nd Watch will give your organization the expertise needed for cloud optimization. If you want to learn more about cost savings or are interested in fully optimizing your cloud infrastructure, contact us to take your next steps.
Cloud computing is a complex process that requires proper planning and continuous management. Whether you are just getting started with the cloud or have been in the cloud for years, you might find yourself asking questions regarding running your cloud infrastructure. Which cloud provider is best for my organization? Should I have one or more public cloud providers? How will I ensure financial transparency and efficiency in the cloud? To tackle these questions, there are a variety of cloud consulting services that make these challenges much easier to overcome for a successful cloud journey.
What is cloud consulting?
For any business, getting expert advice guides operations and efficiency for a business to expand. With the cloud as a relatively newer concept for many businesses, a cloud expert is essential to ensure cloud efficiency.
A cloud consultant is someone who specializes in the cloud and can help answer questions, recommend clients with the right architecture that meets their client’s business needs, and can even maintain the cloud applications for their clients. By engaging in cloud consulting services, any questions you have about the cloud can be answered by an expert so you can ensure you are taking an approach that uses the cloud to its full potential. For example, a cloud consultant can recommend the cloud platform that suites your business needs or recommend a hybrid cloud solution.
Cloud consulting service types
Cloud consulting services vary from one company to another, and there are different services and cloud solutions for different business needs. Although cloud services may vary depending on who your cloud consultant is, we like to break up our services into six different categories.
Cloud Advisory: If you are considering a transition to the cloud, cloud advisory services help answer key questions, define strategy, manage change within your organization, and provide impartial advice for a wide range of organizational, process, and technical issues related to cloud modernization.
Cloud Migration: When making a transition to the public cloud, there are many different aspects to consider for a successful migration. A cloud consultant can formulate a holistic migration strategy, whether you are migrating an individual workload or an entire data center.
Application Modernization & DevOps: A DevOps transformation provides your company and team members with tools and strategy for modernizing your applications. This can be as simple as helping your organization identify strengths and opportunities through an assessment or can include a fully managed DevOps pipeline with ongoing cultural guidance.
Data & Analytics: According to a 2nd Watch survey of 150 enterprises, 57% of organizations do not have the analytics expertise necessary to meet business needs. Data and analytics services transforms your organization to be data driven. If you are just starting out in the cloud or are interested in utilizing data, a cloud consultant can help implement an initial set of analytic processes. If your organization is more mature when it comes to data, a cloud consultant can design, build, or enhance your analytic architecture.
Compliance, Security, & Business Continuity: Security should be a top priority at every layer of your cloud environment, yet many businesses do not prioritize the security and compliance required when running a cloud environment. A cloud advisor can provide services that monitor your cloud environment 24/7 so that you do not have to.
Cloud Operations & Optimization: Optimization ensures your cloud environments are running as efficiently as possible. Handing that responsibility over to a cloud consulting firm helps your organization maximize the performance and returns of your cloud assets.
What are the benefits of cloud consulting?
Upfront, the working with a cloud consulting firm may seem costly, but the benefits reaped from working with the right cloud consultant greatly justifies the associated costs. Some of the resulting benefits include:
Knowledge: Working with a cloud consultant for will give your organization the advisory needed to confidently go about your cloud adoption and journey.
Efficiency: Handing over some of the tasks needed to run your environments to a cloud consultant can reduce your time managing the cloud and increase organizational efficiency to drive business outcomes.
Reduced Costs: Cloud experts will set up your cloud infrastructure in the most efficient way possible to save your organization from unnecessary cloud spending. Additionally, hiring a cloud consulting company reduces the need for a fully staffed IT department.
Enhanced Security: Managing a public cloud infrastructure requires continuous security and compliance to ensure the safety of your data. Working with a cloud consulting firm allows your infrastructure to be managed 24/7.
Consult with 2nd Watch
Cloud has the potential to revolutionize business, but without guidance, it can prompt some daunting decisions in terms of adoption strategy, platform selection, and cost modeling. At 2nd watch, we have the expert knowledge to advise you on these topics and help you get started with your cloud journey. Beyond our planning phases, our team can help you with the migration, optimization, and transformation of your cloud environment . Contact us to learn more or to take your next steps.
Datacenter migration is ideal for businesses who are looking to exit or reduce on-premises datacenters, migrate workloads as is, modernize apps, or leave another cloud. Executing migrations, however, is no small task, and as a result, there are many enterprise workloads that still run in on-premises datacenters. Often technology leaders want to migrate more of their workloads and infrastructure to a private or public cloud, but they are turned off by the seemingly complex processes and strategies involved in cloud migration or lack the internal cloud skills necessary to make the transition.
Though datacenter migration can be a daunting business initiative, the benefits of moving to the cloud are well worth the effort, and the challenges of the migration process can be mitigated by creating a strategy, using the correct tools, and utilizing professional services. Datacenter migration provides a great opportunity to revise, rethink, and improve an organization’s IT architecture. It also ultimately impacts business-critical drivers such as reducing capital expenditure, decreasing ongoing cost, improving scalability and elasticity, improving time-to-market, enacting digital transformation, and attaining improvements in security and compliance.
What are Common Datacenter Migration Challenges?
To ensure a seamless and successful migration to the cloud, businesses should be aware of the potential complexities and risks associated with a datacenter migration. The complexities and risks are addressable, and if addressed properly, organizations can create not only an optimal environment for their migration project, but provide the launch point for business transformation.
Not Understanding Workloads
While cloud platforms are touted as flexible, it is a service-oriented resource and should be treated as such. To be successful in cloud deployment, organizations need to be aware of performance, compatibility, performance requirements (including hardware, software, and IOPS), required software, and adaptability to changes in their workloads. Teams need to run their cloud workloads on the cloud service that is best aligned with the needs of the application and the business.
Not Understanding Licensing
Cloud marketplaces allow businesses to easily “rent” software at an hourly rate. Though the ease of this purchase is enticing, it’s important to remember that it’s not the only option out there. Not all large vendors offer licensing mobility for all applications outside the operating system. In fact, companies should leverage existing relationships with licensing brokers. Just because a business is migrating to the cloud doesn’t mean that a business should abandon existing licensing channels. Organizations should familiarize themselves with their choices for licensing to better maximize ROI.
Not Looking for Opportunities to Incorporate PaaS
Platform as a service (PaaS) is a cloud computing model where a cloud service provider delivers hardware and software tools to users over the internet versus a build-it-yourself Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model. The PaaS provider abstracts everything—servers, networks, storage, operating system software, databases, development tools—enabling teams to focus on their application. This enables PaaS customers to build, test, deploy, run, update and scale applications more quickly and inexpensively than they could if they had to build out and manage an IaaS environment on top of their application. While businesses shouldn’t feel compelled to rewrite all their network configurations and operating environments, they should see where they can have quick PaaS wins to replace aging systems.
Not Proactively Preparing for Cloud Migration
Building a new datacenter is a major IT event and usually goes hand-in-hand with another significant business event, such as an acquisition, or outgrowing the existing datacenter. In the case of moving to a new on-premises datacenter, the business will slow down as the company takes on a physical move. Migrating to the cloud is usually not coupled with an eventful business change, and as a result, business does not stop when a company chooses to migrate to the cloud. Therefore, a critical part of cloud migration success is designing the whole process as something that can run along with other IT changes that occur on the same timeline. Application teams frequently adopt cloud deployment practices months before their systems actually migrate to the cloud. By doing so, the team is ready before their infrastructure is even prepared, which makes cloud migration a much smoother event. Combining cloud events with other changes in this manner will maximize a company’s ability to succeed.
Treating and Running the Cloud Environment Like Traditional Datacenters
It seems obvious that cloud environments should be treated differently from traditional datacenters, but this is actually a common pitfall for organizations to fall in. For example, preparing to migrate to the cloud should not include traditional datacenter services, like air conditioning, power supply, physical security, and other datacenter infrastructure, as a part of the planning. Again, this may seem very obvious, but if a business is used to certain practices, it can be surprisingly difficult to break entrenched mindsets and processes.
How to Plan for a Datacenter Migration
While there are potential challenges associated with datacenter migration, the benefits of moving from physical infrastructures, enterprise datacenters, and/or on-premises data storage systems to a cloud datacenter or a hybrid cloud system is well worth the effort.
Now that we’ve gone over the potential challenges of datacenter migration, how do businesses enable a successful datacenter migration while effectively managing risk?
Below, we’ve laid out a repeatable high-level migration strategy that is broken down into four phases: Discovery, Planning, Execution, and Optimization. By leveraging a repeatable framework as such, organizations create the opportunity to identify assets, minimize migration costs and risks using a multi-phased migration approach, enable deployment and configuration, and finally, optimize the end state.
Phase 1: Discovery
During the Discovery phase, companies should understand and document the entire datacenter footprint. This means understanding the existing hardware mapping, software applications, storage layers (databases, file shares), operating systems, networking configurations, security requirements, models of operation (release cadence, how to deploy, escalation management, system maintenance, patching, virtualization, etc.), licensing and compliance requirements, as well as other relevant assets.
The objective of this phase is to have a detailed view of all relevant assets and resources of the current datacenter footprint.
The key milestones in the Discovery phase are:
Creating a shared datacenter inventory footprint: Every team and individual who is a part of the datacenter migration to the cloud should be aware of the assets and resources that will go live.
Sketching out an initial cloud platform foundations design: This involves identifying centralized concepts of the cloud platform organization such as folder structure, Identity and Access Management (IAM) model, network administration model, and more.
As a best practice, companies should engage in cross-functional dialogue within their organizations, including teams from IT to Finance to Program Management, ensuring everyone is aligned on changes to support future cloud processes. Furthermore, once a business has migrated from a physical datacenter to the cloud, they should consider whether their datacenter team is trained to support the systems and infrastructure of the cloud provider.
Phase 2: Planning
When a company is entering the Planning phase, they are leveraging the assets and deliverables gathered in the Discovery phase to create migration waves to be sequentially deployed into non-production and production environments.
Typically, it is best to target non-production migration waves first, which helps identify the sequence of waves to migrate first. To start, consider the following:
Mapping the current server inventory to the cloud platform’s machine types: Each current workload will generally run on a virtual machine type with similar computing power, memory, and disk. Oftentimes though, the current workload is overprovisioned, so each workload should be evaluated to ensure that it is migrated onto the right VM for that given workload.
Timelines: Businesses should lay out their target dates for each migration project.
Workloads in each grouping: Figure out what migration waves are grouped by i.e. non-production vs. production applications.
The cadence of code releases: Factor in any upcoming code releases as this may impact the decision of whether to migrate sooner or later.
Time for infrastructure deployment and testing: Allocate adequate time for testing infrastructures before fully moving over to the cloud.
The number of application dependencies: Migration order should be influenced by the number of application dependencies. The applications with the fewest dependencies are generally good candidates for migration first. In contrast, wait to migrate an application that depends on multiple databases.
Migration complexity and risk: Migration order should also take complexity into consideration. Tackling simpler aspects of the migration first will generally yield a more successful migration.
As mentioned above, the best practice for migration waves is to start with more predictable and simple workloads. For instance, companies should start with migrating file shares first, then databases and domain controlled, and save the apps for last. However, sometimes the complexity and dependencies don’t allow for a straightforward migration. In these cases, utilizing an experienced service provider who has experience with these complex environments will be prudent.
Phase 3: Execution
Once companies have developed a plan, they can bring them to fruition in the Execution phase. Here, businesses will need to be deliberate about the steps they take and the configurations they develop.
In the Execution phase, companies will put into place infrastructure components and ensure they are configured appropriately, like IAM, networking, firewall rules, and Service Accounts. Here is also where teams should test the applications on the infrastructure configurations to ensure that they have access to their databases, file shares, web servers, load balancers, Active Directory servers, and more. Execution also includes using logging and monitoring to ensure applications continue to function with the necessary performance.
In order for the Execution phase to be successful, there needs to be agile application debugging and testing. Moreover, organizations should have both a short and long-term plan for resolving blockers that may come up during the migration. The Execution phase is iterative and the goal should be to ensure that applications are fully tested on the new infrastructure.
Phase 4: Optimization
The last phase of a datacenter migration project is Optimization. After a business has migrated its workloads to the cloud, it should conduct periodic reviews and planning to optimize the workloads. Optimization includes the following activities:
Resizing machine types and disks
Leveraging software like Terraform for more agile and predictable deployments
Improving automation to reduce operational overhead
Bolstering integration with logging, monitoring, and alerting tools
Adopting managed services to reduce operational overhead
Cloud services provide visibility into resource consumption and spending, and organizations can more easily identify the compute resources they are paying for. Additionally, businesses can identify virtual machines they need or don’t need. By migrating from a traditional datacenter environment to a cloud environment, teams will be able to optimize their workloads due to the powerful tools that cloud platforms provide.
How do I take the first step in datacenter migration?
While undertaking a full datacenter migration is a significant project, it is worthwhile. The migration framework we’ve provided can help any business break down the process into manageable stages and move fully to the cloud.
When you’re ready to take the first step, we’re here to help to make the process even easier. Contact a 2nd Watch advisor today to get started with your migration to the cloud.