Cloud Transition

9 Tips For A Smooth Cloud Transition

The cloud is undoubtedly a disruptive force within IT. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for months of operational disruption during your cloud transition.

Here are nine proven tips for making the process of moving to the cloud smoother.

1. Plan for hybrid operations

Despite offering superior flexibility and scalability, not all workloads belong in the cloud. For this reason, you should be planning for a hybrid cloud future, where some applications and data sets are retained in-house, while others are migrated off-site.

For best results, you will want your deployment to make hybrid operations as seamless as possible.

2.  Inventory what you already have

Understanding the systems you currently have in place – and their importance to the business – is a crucial aspect of migration planning. This assessment allows you to prioritise which applications to move first – and those which can be retired entirely.

Do not underestimate the importance of retiring underused or unnecessary applications – you will still pay for the cloud resources they consume. Your cloud partner may be able to assist with the discovery and inventory process.

3. Use smart migration tools

Disaster Recovery (DR) tools are typically used for ensuring operations can continue in the event of a localised outage.  However, the same technologies can also be used to streamline the cloud migration process, accurately and reliably replicating data sets to your hosted platform of choice without affecting ‘live’ operations.

4. Choose a native VMware cloud platform

If your business uses VMware for server virtualisation, it makes sense to choose a partner who offers a native VMware cloud environment. Selecting the same underlying technology will help to simplify and accelerate the migration of your workloads and templates.

You will also find ongoing management and maintenance much easier because the tools and techniques are familiar.

5. Identify a future for your legacy physical workloads

Legacy systems continue to be a drag on IT budgets because of their complexity and management overheads. Migration to the cloud offers an opportunity to virtualise these legacy systems, bringing them into line with your more up-to-date applications. Wherever possible, this is the preferred option moving forwards.

If virtualisation is not an option (some licenses prohibit it for instance), you should speak to your provider about the potential for provisioning physical systems in the cloud. This will involve making some difficult choices as the cost and complexity of migrating physical systems can be relatively high.

6. Use data seeding for massive data sets

Because of the time required to transfer enormous data sets over the internet, it may be advisable to ‘seed’ your migration first. Shipping physical drives to the cloud data centre is much faster and reliable, allowing you to jumpstart the migration process. You can then sync updated information over the internet as normal.

7. Test your bandwidth capacity

Hosting systems in the cloud places an even heavier burden on your internet connection. Work with your cloud provider to assess current bandwidth and whether it is sufficient to handle an increase in traffic. Where there is a predicted shortfall, you will need to arrange an upgrade.

8. Train IT staff to use new cloud management tools

Managing the cloud platform will be different to your current on-premise setup. Once you have selected a partner and platform, ensure your IT team are fully trained to use the new tools to manage your cloud environment.

And don’t forget to assess support provisions, our team needs to be sure they have a backup if something goes wrong – or need guidance and assistance.

9. Refine your future strategy

Cloud migration is not a one-time, big-bang project but an ongoing process of continual refinement and improvement. Working with your cloud provider, map out an effective migration plan that aligns with your strategic goals. They can also advise on how to re-architect systems to better contain costs and improve efficiency.

Get your cloud migration underway today

To learn more about successful cloud migrations and how WTL can help your business with a successful cloud transition, please get in touch.

NetApp

How NetApp became a vital part of your public cloud strategy

As businesses look to balance current resource demands with strategic growth plans, hybrid cloud offers a useful platform for both. Now research from IDC suggests that NetApp is a critical enabler of hybrid cloud strategies – and you should seriously consider these technologies for your projects.

Leading the way with NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp’s flagship ONTAP technology has been instrumental in helping existing customers embrace the public cloud. Using the same familiar interfaces and tools, ONTAP users can quickly and easily manage workloads in any location – including the cloud.

ONTAP is now available on all the major platforms – AWS, Azure and Google Cloud – allowing users to expand into the public cloud within a matter of minutes.

And for non-NetApp users?

NetApp has continued to develop tools to assist businesses with their strategic cloud tools – including those who are not currently customers. NetApp Cloud Volume Service is a fully managed file storage service that accelerates the journey to the cloud and helps users maximise value from their hosted investments.

With the Cloud Volume Service subscribers can get started immediately; there is no need to own any other NetApp products or services. They still benefit from the same file storage technologies, but with the added benefit of expert management.

Azure users have an additional benefit – the Cloud Volume Service can be purchased from Microsoft direct as a native service This reduces the number of contracts and suppliers you need to deal with, further lowering TCO.

But why NetApp?

This all sounds great in principle – but why has IDC singled out NetApp specifically? Two major reasons – flexibility and future-proofing.

Initially, NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP was designed to allow users to migrate workloads between on-premise data centres and the cloud. As hosted technology has matured, businesses have begun to consider the potential of multi-cloud infrastructure. By selecting the best services from each vendor, they can better contain cloud costs, increase flexibility and optimise the performance of every aspect of operations.

Because ONTAP and Cloud Volume Services are available on multiple platforms, moving files between providers becomes much easier – and potentially quicker too. NetApp empowers businesses to migrate between providers to ensure they are always receiving the best value from their investments and allowing them to change providers as circumstances change.

Discover the NetApp cloud

IDC advice is clear. Businesses should seriously consider NetApp’s cloud service offerings to improve cost and performance for their cloud workloads. The ability to view workloads wherever they are located (on-premise or in the cloud) will allow them to deliver a consistently good experience in any setting.

To learn more about NetApp cloud services and how they will help you turbocharge your file storage strategy, please get in get in touch.

Oracle Database Appliance

What is the true value of an Oracle Database Appliance?

Deploying and managing Oracle databases is time consuming, complex and costly, especially when dealing with mission-critical, line-of-business applications. So just how much difference does an Oracle Database Appliance make when choosing a platform to host your database? Why should you choose the more expensive Oracle Engineered Solution over a more generic platform?

The fact is Oracle-on-Oracle delivers some significant benefits – even larger than you may expect. Here is what you need to know.

Performance benefits

When time is money and speed of data access may mean the difference between life and death, performance is a key strategic concern. It makes sense then that a hardware platform designed from the ground up for your database engine should deliver superior performance – and it does.

According to customer testing, Oracle Database Appliance (ODA) offers a 50% improvement on load times and a 49% gain for query speed. Transactions also complete 34% quicker than when using a generic hardware platform thanks to superior I/O capabilities.

In addition to day-to-day operations, the Oracle Database Appliance is also optimised for administrative functions. Backup performance is boosted by up to 41% while recovery completes 38% faster. In the event of a local disaster, your business will be able to recover operations more quickly.

Cost benefits

The headline cost of an Oracle Database Appliance is undeniable more than a generic platform – but this masks the overall value of vendor-specific hardware. Users report that performance and efficiency gains repay the cost of the ODA in just 10 months.

These savings are ongoing too. Over five years, expect to see the cost of operations drop by 54%. This results in a 498% return on investment over the same period, generally from increased efficiency for the business, the IT team and end-users themselves. This is particularly true if the appliance allows you to consolidate hardware to reduce licensing costs and administrative overheads.

Choosing a cheaper alternative to an ODA may actually be a false economy that ends up costing more in the long term.

Operational benefits

Just how more efficient is the Oracle Database Appliance? The ODA experiences less than one minute of unplanned downtime per user per year. Deploying a new database requires 73% less staff time. Infrastructure teams become 70% more efficient and DBA teams are 61% better off, delivering cost reductions of around $26k per database (~£18.7k).

These efficiency savings have a significant effect on your company finances. A 20% reduction in IT infrastructure costs frees up budget for investment in strategic projects for instance. ODA users also report an average revenue increase of $0.9m (~£650,000) per year, marking a significant gain for the business.

By making management and administration more efficient, ODA enables your business to become more responsive and agile. This in turn positions you to better overcome the challenges of digital transformation and a more demanding customer base.

Discover the Oracle Database Appliance family

To learn more about your Oracle Database Appliance options and how they could help your business achieve more without busting your budget, please get in get in touch.

Cloud-based backup and disaster recover i

Cloud-based Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning – The Essentials

Because data is the lifeblood of your business, you need to ensure it is always protected against loss. This short guide will take you through the essentials of planning your data protection strategy and explores the options for cloud-based backup and disaster recovery solutions.

Technology choices

Backup and disaster recovery (DR) are similar – but different – concepts, designed to protect your data against loss. Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably (even by technology vendors), you must know the difference to ensure you choose the right systems for you.

Do I need backup?

Backup technologies are designed to create an exact copy of your data so that you can always restore it in the event of a major problem. If your file server is infected by ransomware, backup allows you to recover affected files quickly and efficiently. This technology is particularly well suited to lower-priority data sets and systems.

Do I need Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery technologies are typically focused on helping your business resume operations as quickly as possible after a significant outage. Data from your mission-critical systems will be continuously replicated to the cloud (or similar off-site facility), allowing you to bring operations back online quickly.

Backup and disaster recovery (DR) are similar – but different – concepts. Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably (even by technology vendors), you must know the difference to ensure you choose the right systems for you. You will probably need a combination of both – backup for low-priority systems, DR for the most important.

Building a workable plan

A successful plan relies on knowing what data you have and how important it is to your operations. Prioritising data will help you decide how it should be backed up and recovered.

Assessing RTO

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) describes the amount of time between your systems going down and you bringing them back online again. For mission-critical systems, your RTO targets must be as low as possible – perhaps just minutes – so you can restart operations quickly.

Systems with a high RTO are best suited to cloud-based disaster recovery solutions that offer near-instant fail-over capabilities.

Assessing RPO

Recovery Point Objective measures how much data is lost when your systems go offline. Some of your line-of-business applications will be updating constantly; any updates during a period of downtime may be lost entirely. Other systems update far less frequently – a few hours of downtime would not cause any data loss.

Systems with a low RPO are best suited to DR technologies that offer instant replication to ensure every detail is captured and protected. Higher RPO data can be used with lower-cost traditional backup mechanisms.

Replaceability and interdependence

As you assess your data estate, you need to answer two questions:

  • How easily can we replace lost data?
  • How does each application relate to the others?

Some data is more important to operations than others. Your financial data is essential – the CFO’s financial modelling spreadsheet for the financial year 1998/99 not so much. Plan your backups so that critical data is prioritised and protected accordingly.

Second, don’t forget to assess the interdependence between systems. Sometimes rarely-used systems underpin your mission-critical apps. If the ‘unimportant’ system is not backed up correctly, it’s more important sibling will be unusable. Both systems need similar levels of protection to avoid these problems.

Implementing backup

A good backup plan has three key elements:

  • Retain at least three copies of your data
  • Data is stored on two different media
  • At least one of your backup copies is stored offsite

Cloud backup solutions make this process incredibly simple, with many services offering multiple versions for restore. And because the data is stored offsite, it takes care of media and geography concerns.

Implementing disaster recovery

Disaster recovery is all about restoring operations as quickly as possible. In most cases, this will be in the form of a co-located data centre or cloud-based platform.

When choosing a partner, consider:

  • Are their replication capabilities sufficient to prevent data loss?
  • Do they offer tools and support to manage the post-failover and fail-back processes?
  • Do they offer a pricing model that aligns with your budgets?

Again, cloud technologies offer a good level of protection, flexibility and scalability that is more suitable for most businesses than a traditional co-location setup.

Testing your provisions

Replicating and backing up data is relatively easy – but can you recover it when needed? The final stage of any backup and disaster recovery plan is to test that your fail-over and recovery systems work.

Essentially, you need to be sure that your RTO and RPO goals can be met. This will mean testing backup mechanisms to ensure data can be properly restored within the specified timeframes. Similarly, you will need to trigger a live failover event periodically to confirm DR resources kick in as expected and any disruption falls within acceptable boundaries.

Through testing, you will identify weaknesses and opportunities for improvement before encountering a show-stopping outage.

Get in touch

For more help and advice about Cloud-based Backup and Disaster Recovery technologies that help protect your business against disruption and data loss, please get in get in touch.

Office 365

Three ways your Office 365 data is at risk – and one solution to them all

Office 365 remains the world’s most popular productivity platform for several reasons. As well as providing the tools required to complete most basic productivity tasks, the subscription model helps businesses better manage their capital spend. And because files and documents are synced to the cloud, Office 365 offers some degree of improved resilience.

But there are still three ways in which your Office 365 service is as risk.

Threat 1: Ransomware

Ransomware continues to grow in popularity with cybercriminals because it works. Infecting a victim’s computer and encrypting their files is a superb way to get their attention. Demanding a ransom in untraceable digital currency in order to obtain the decryption keys is highly effective – and profitable.

In the event that computers within your network are successfully attacked by malware, your Office 365 data is at risk. As documents are encrypted, those changes are synchronised to the cloud, overwriting good data with bad.

Threat 2: Insider Threats

Every IT manager’s worst nightmare is the disgruntled employee. Whether they go out with a bang or wage a long-term guerrilla campaign, these individuals have the potential to cause lasting damage to the business.

Without add-on protections, users can delete important files and emails locally and in the Office 365 cloud. If their actions are not discovered for some time, the missing data may not be recoverable – particularly as Office 365 only retains backups for 30 days.

Threat 3: Accidents

A careless click here, a mis-key there. Deleting and overwriting emails and files is so simple, we’ve all done it before. And with every change automatically synced locally and to the cloud, the mistake is also replicated.

But the damage can be just as severe as malware or malicious activity if it goes unnoticed. Again, the 30 day ‘grace’ period provided with Office 365 deleted files may not be enough.

Cloud-based backup for your cloud-based Office 365 data

WTL offers a solution designed to counter all three of these risks. Our Secure Cloud Backup for Office 365 solution uses Veeam replication technologies to copy your files and emails to our secure cloud space automatically.

Just like any other ‘true’ backup solution, Secure Cloud Backup for Office 365 offers incremental backups that can be stored for months or years. So if data is deleted or corrupted, you can recover files long after the 30-day limit imposed by Microsoft.

Secure Cloud Backup for Office 365 also offers a range of recovery options according to your strategic needs. Take Exchange for instance – you can restore deleted mailbox data, export a mailbox for reimport as a PST, save specific messages as MSG files or forward emails as attachments to another address.

Flexible options allow you to increase the accuracy and speed of recovery – and minimise the impact of Office 365 (temporary) data loss. For more information about Secure Cloud Backup for Office 365, please get in touch.