Cloud Migration

Pain-free cloud migration? 9 things you need to know

The cloud has become an established part of most organisations’ IT strategy. However, the example of early adopters shows that migration is not necessarily smooth – which is hardly a surprise given that the cloud represents a significant change in operating processes.

Here are nine things to consider that will make your transition easier.

1. Not everything belongs in the cloud

Almost all businesses currently operate a hybrid model, with some of their workloads migrated to the cloud and some retained on-premise. Why? Because some workloads are best kept locally.

If your business has decided to adopt a cloud-first strategy you need to be realistic – not everything should be migrated.

2. Audit everything

Before migrating anything, you need to know what you have. Carrying out a full audit of your operating environment and applications is essential. This will allow you to prioritise workloads for migration – and identify the technical challenges involved in ‘cloudifying’ them.

Top tip – your cloud provider may have tools to make the auditing process easier.

3. Use technology wisely

Most businesses understand the power of disaster recovery tools and how they can be used to failover to a secondary location. But this also makes DR tools an excellent aid for cloud migration – even though the final transition is intended to be permanent.

Take a look at your current DR capabilities and check to see whether they could assist with your cloud migration project.

4. Leverage VMware portability

VMware virtual servers are intended to be portable by design. But the VMware suite of tools includes functionality designed to help transition to the cloud. Take VMware vCloud Extender which creates a Layer 2 VPN between your on-premise data centre and the cloud, allowing you to migrate workloads natively at your own pace – and to avoid downtime.

Alternatively, you can build new VMs or take advantage of export/import functionality offered by your service provider if preferred.

5. Plan for physical workloads

Perhaps the biggest challenge you face is migrating physical workloads. Remember, not all workloads belong in the cloud, so it may be that you decide to retain at least some physical servers locally.

For others, cloud migration offers an opportunity to virtualise servers and realise all the benefits of the technology across the rest of your estate.

6. How to transfer data sets?

Data storage is a constant headache, which is why the challenge of moving datasets to the cloud is one of the first challenges you will encounter. Seeding – shipping physical disks containing a point-in-time backup – is an obvious solution, but it tends to be costly, inefficient and not entirely free from error.

In some cases, a combination of seeding and DR provisioning may offer a better solution for getting your data into the cloud and reducing errors during the transfer.

7. Calculate your bandwidth requirements

In most cases, your current bandwidth will be sufficient for day-to-day cloud operations. But it never hurts to check whether you have enough speed and availability to make the most of the new operating model.

8. Consider ongoing management needs

Once your workloads are in the cloud, how will you manage them? What tools are supplied by your vendor? What else would help? Do your team need additional training before go-live?

Make sure you know how you will measure and report on your KPIs – and control cloud spending. And don’t forget to examine the support options available from potential cloud suppliers – you will undoubtedly require their help at some point in the future.

9. Build a partnership

Cloud migration is often a step into the unknown – so it makes sense to get help to avoid common mistakes. Work with potential cloud providers to understand your needs and how they can help. Building a strong relationship early in the project will open new opportunities to improve your cloud operations once the move has been completed.

Ready to learn more?

To discover more about smooth cloud migrations and how your business can avoid costly pitfalls, please give the WTL team a call today.

Cloud leaders

Enterprise Cloud Adoption Part II – Lessons from Cloud Leaders

While early cloud adopters blazed a trail with their migration towards OpEx spending models and reduced infrastructure investment, many made costly strategic mistakes. And as the rest of the world races to catch up, the same mistakes are still being repeated.

But there are some best-practice principles which can help your business avoid mistakes and maximise return on your cloud investment.

1. Start with security

Moving data to the cloud is relatively easy – but if it is not properly secured, you risk potentially disastrous consequences. Losing data creates problems with customers, partners and regulators with long-term implications.

Because of this, successful cloud deployments have security as one of the foundational principles. This means that data is secured edge-to-edge to properly protect against loss or theft.

Successful cloud adopters build security strategies around three key factors:

Risk and compliance – ensuring security standards can be monitored, understood and managed consistently across the entire estate. Leaders will use automation to accelerate and scale monitoring to ensure their growing cloud estate is properly protected.

Security controls – leaders will adopt hybrid tools that provide comprehensive, consistent protection for systems in the cloud and the local data centre. All of their security processes are upgraded to deal with this new hybrid operating model.

Governance – Cloud technologies may change the way your IT systems work, but the same compliance rules still apply. Leaders upskill their employees to ensure they are equipped to deal with this new reality. They will also deploy tools capable of enforcing compliance requirements across all systems, regardless of location.

2. Build a transformation blueprint

It’s a well-worn cliché, but those businesses who carry out the most planning are also least likely to make basic mistakes with their cloud deployments. Leaders are effective at building an effective strategy and governance capabilities.

Their blueprints will include a business-driven and unbiased business case for their projects, underpinned by return on investment. They will also refine and improve communications and oversight, and they recognise the need to develop a culture that embraces change.

3. Evolve your operating model

Cloud technologies should allow your business to do more work, faster and with less friction. However, leaders have realised that the new ways of working demanded by cloud platforms deliver the greatest agility benefits.

Existing processes are not optimised for the cloud, so leaders will evolve their operating model accordingly. Service operations will be adjusted to become more proactive. Platform operations are restructured to develop new enterprise standards and policies and to leverage cloud-native tools. Pipeline operations have a clearly defined process for building, deploying and retiring containers – preferably using automation tools to accelerate the continuous integration and delivery pipeline.

4. Invest in your people

One of the biggest barriers to cloud success is skills, particularly as there is currently a global shortage. Leaders will invest heavily in attracting and retaining the brightest talent. They will also spend to upskill their existing workforce, helping to plug gaps in knowledge and experience so they can continue driving their cloud strategy forwards.

The staffing strategy looks beyond current requirements too, developing a pipeline of talent to support succession planning and reward the highest performers. They can also call upon their partners to provide additional guidance and advice sand to impart knowledge to the in-house team.

Avoiding common cloud pitfalls is harder than it looks. However, these four concepts are all used by cloud leaders to help them realise the maximum return on their investments. To learn more about successful enterprise cloud adoption, please give us a call

Cloud adoption

Enterprise Cloud Adoption Part I – Measuring Cloud Maturity

With such high levels of cloud adoption, it is inconceivable that any enterprise-class organisation is not using at least some cloud services. However, not all cloud deployments are equal and some organisations are realising more value from their investments than others.

HPE has developed a five-point scale to help businesses understand the maturity of their cloud deployments:

1. Ad-hoc: Cloud adoption remains fragmented and isolated without any form of unifying strategy.

2. Adapting: There is some evidence that a business is trying to bring their isolated cloud instances together.

3. Cloud-enabled: The company has an effective cloud operating model in place. Level 3 should be the minimum starting goal of every enterprise.

4. Optimised: Cloud usage is well-established and the business is optimising deployments to achieve greater value.

5. Maximised value: The organization has achieved best practice cloud operating model capability, as evaluated against peers and industry benchmarks.

The reality is that most organisations still have a lot of work to do before they will reach level 5.

What is preventing enterprises from achieving maturity?

HP’s maturity assessment matrix assesses eight domains: strategy and governance, security, operations, DevOps, data, applications, innovation and people. Any organisation reaching maturity level 3 will have achieved a good score across the majority of the domains, but one always seems to lag – people.

The problem with people

Strangely, most organisations know they have a people problem – but are unsure how to solve it. This is because there are several factors in play: change is often slow because embedded cultural factors work against digital transformation programs for instance. In other cases, senior management may not invest all of the time and resources required to enact lasting cultural and workforce change.

It’s also highly likely that the ongoing cloud skills shortage is playing a significant role in these problems too. Without domain-specific knowledge and experience, it is even harder to define strategies and change cultures.

A knock-on effect

A low score in the people domain has a disproportionate effect on cloud maturity. Without a solid basis in strategy, security operations and people, other domains – namely applications, innovation and data – will also suffer.

To improve cloud maturity (and maximise the value of investments) requires a structured approach to understanding your current capabilities. Indeed, it is only by understanding the factors that are hindering progress that you will be able to make progress and adopt the relevant best practices for greater success.

Again, HPE has some useful suggestions to help you get started:

Align around a common language – cut through the confusion and internal barriers by building an organisation-wide framework to communicate priorities, align around goals, and exchange ideas.

Benchmark against best practice – You don’t always have to blaze a trail initially – take time to benchmark your capabilities against your industry’s leaders.

Measure progress – Cloud technologies and best practices are constantly evolving, so you need a way to measure progress towards attainment – and the shifting goalposts.

Identify your blind spots – Be careful that your transformation initiatives are scoped according to the cloud industry, not the knowledge of your planners. If your people don’t know what they don’t know, your strategy will be unbalanced, delivering less than optimal results.

Cloud adoption is essential to your IT strategy, but it needs to be implemented correctly to achieve your goals and contain costs. To learn more about how your enterprise can build a framework that delivers true transformation, please get in touch.

hyperscale cloud

Why hyperscale cloud breaks your budget (and what to do about it)

For many years, hyperscale cloud has promised to help businesses slash their IT operating costs. However, the reality is often very different – most find that their costs actually increase.

Your business needs the flexibility and scalability of the cloud to meet its strategic computing objectives. So, what can you do if hyperscalers cost more every time?

3 reasons hyperscalers always cost you more

Research by Gartner found that even three years after adoption, hyperscale cloud had a significantly negative ROI of -171%. According to their calculations, it takes seven years to generate a positive ROI – far too long for many small and medium sized organisations looking to create meaningful savings now.

Here’s why everything costs so much when hosting VMs in the cloud:

1. Over-specification

Despite the pay-as-you-use promises of hyperscalers when it comes to virtual machines and applications you must specify your virtual hardware requirements. But this causes problems.

First, resources are typically purchased in batches that rarely match your requirements; you must purchase eight virtual CPUs when your applications only require six for instance. Second, it is extremely unlikely your applications will ever reach these resource limits under normal conditions. This means that you invariably end up paying for resources you are not using.

2. Transaction costs

The flip side of pay-as-you-use computing is that you do pay for everything. Take object storage. You already know that you pay a price per gigabyte of data stored – but you are then charged transaction fees for every PUT, GET and LIST operation performed on your data plus a fee for bandwidth usage.

It is not easy to quantify the number of transactions up front, which is why many subscribers pay 40-60% more for their cloud storage than anticipated.

3. Essential add-ons

Replicating your on-premise environment is quite straightforward. However, many of the essential components you rely on are treated as chargeable extras. Things like network connectivity, security, monitoring and disaster recovery.

Again, these essential add-ons quickly increase cloud operating costs far beyond initial expectations.

What is the solution?

Hyperscalers will point out that many of these costs can be contained through proper re-engineering and optimisation. However, the necessary skills and experience are rare (and expensive), leaving most unable to make the required changes. This means that return on investment will remain a long game for most.

The alternative is to choose a leaner, more affordable cloud partner that employs a much fairer pricing model. Our solutions include network connectivity, backup/DR, monitoring, our security suite, and 24x7x365 support as standard. Which dramatically reduces cloud costs and shortens the time to ROI.

Best of all, these benefits are available without significantly re-engineering your systems and processes.

To learn more about avoiding the hyperscale cloud trap – and how WTL can help you build a cloud strategy that does deliver on expectations – please get in touch.

Disaster Recover

Making the business case for disaster recovery

Because of the relative rarity of a significant system outage, many SMEs have deliberately underinvested in their data protection provisions. Backup allows them to recover almost all of their systems and data (eventually), so why invest in a true disaster recovery solution?

Although most see this as a calculated risk, the impact of an outage can be devastating for a data-driven business. Here’s what you need to consider before trying to justify not investing in disaster recovery tools.

Reducing RPO windows

It is possible to recover most of your data from a traditional backup but:

  • The process is typically quite slow
  • Data changes significantly between backups – how much information can you afford to lose in that window?

It is entirely possible that relying on backups could cost your business 22 hours or more lost productivity.

A disaster recovery platform is specifically designed to reduce the recovery point objective (RPO – the amount of data your business can ‘afford’ to lose) to minutes or seconds. Cloud-based DR systems also allow you to create service tiers so that you can prioritise what is protected, the performance of the underlying infrastructure and how it is brought online in an emergency. This granular control ensures you can balance availability, performance and cost to meet your strategic recovery goals.

Affordable resilience

Modern disaster recovery platforms use the cloud to provide massive scalability without upfront hardware investment. You simply pay for the storage you use. There is no longer any need to invest in co-located data centres, duplicate hardware set-ups, licensing or the resources required to administer them.

Using cloud-based services allows you to avoid significant up-front capital investment – immediately answering one of the main arguments against deploying DR. It also ensures that your data is fully recoverable from anywhere in the world.

Built for the cloud

Backup and recovery tools are normally designed for use with on-premise systems. This becomes a serious shortcoming as your business adopts more cloud-based services.

DR tools are increasingly cloud-native, meaning that they can capture snapshots of data stored in hosted systems. Importantly, they can also restore data to other cloud platforms, offering a useful alternative if your on-premise data centre is out-of-action.

Improve your testing capabilities

Disaster recovery tools create a complete copy of your operating environment that is ready to be recovered at any moment. However, you can also use these DR copies for advanced testing and planning.

Say you want to assess the potential risks associated with a new software update. Rather than deploying into your live environment, you can use a DR copy. All of your tests are completely accurate and reliable because the copied system is identical to your production environment. Tests can be completed without any risk to operations.

To learn more about why your business can’t afford to not invest in disaster recovery tools – and what you stand to gain – please get in touch.