What to know before migrating applications to the cloud

Migrating applications to the cloud isn’t done with the flip of a switch. Organizations must carefully define an application migration strategy, choose the right migration tool and, in some cases, even refactor their applications to take full advantage of cloud.

At the recent Modern Infrastructure Summit in Chicago, managing editor Adam Hughes spoke with Robert Green, principal consultant and cloud strategist at Enfinitum Inc., a consulting firm based in San Antonio, about the do’s and don’ts of migrating applications to the cloud.

SearchCloudComputing: What is the difference between a lift-and-shift migration approach vs. refactoring an application for the cloud?

Robert Green: Your traditional lift-and-shift model is [when organizations say], ‘I’m going to take my application as it stands today with [its] operating system, as well as the infrastructure of the application, and move that over to the cloud.’ It’s typically done just like you’re moving a VM to an instance on the cloud. It’s kind of holistic.

Your first important migration tool is your people — understanding and changing the way they think about their servers.

Robert Greenprincipal consultant and cloud strategist at Enfinitum Inc.

There’s benefit to refactoring, and there’s detriment. I typically go back to [the question],’ What is your customer experience and business going to look like?’ Understanding how to adopt DevOps [is important] as you’re going through the refactoring, [since] you’ll always have legacy applications. The benefit to refactoring legacy apps really comes in the transformation of your business into a DevOps [and] agile technology.

SearchCloudComputing: What are the biggest challenges when migrating applications to the cloud?

Green: When moving an application to the cloud, you need a full understanding of how an application works, and how it’s going to perform in the cloud. Most people haven’t taken the proper time to understand the performance metrics. You’ve got to know [and] you need some really good detail around you about how your application functions [and] how it scales. Knowing that is half the battle, and if you can figure that out, you can protect your cloud environment to match the performance metrics you need.

SearchCloudComputing: How do availability requirements like disaster recovery and scaling fit in here?

Green: The thing I always talk about is understanding which application is bound [and] understanding which application can horizontally scale, because that’s key for [the] cloud. When you don’t have horizontal scalability, you have diminishing returns. You vastly limit the amount of benefit your cloud migration has to offer.

When you talk about DR, there’s that adage that when you move your instances to the cloud, they become like cattle – [if] one gets sick, you put it down. Cloud instances should be stateless; when one gets ‘sick,’ you delete it, you kill it, you purge it and you create another one. That has to be blueprinted [and] it has to be automated. That’s really the key to hitting that DR statelessness.

SearchCloudComputing: Are there any good tools to use when migrating applications to the cloud?

Green: Your first important migration tool is your people — understanding and changing the way they think about their servers. Don’t build operating systems and VMs, build blueprints. Automate how you install those things. There are other applications out there, like CloudVelocity, where they take a picture of your existing instances and move those to things like Amazon. A lot of the providers that offer cloud, the back end of it is a XenDesktop or a XenServer, [or] a hypervisor that’s well known, so you can work your way into that.

SearchCloudComputing: How can an enterprise mitigate cost during a migration?

Green: If you can take some of those applications, and refactor them while moving your development to DevOps, using that [agile] approach, you gain massive benefits. The refactoring time spent is actually mitigated by taking that as a training opportunity to grow your organization to do things much quicker.

Source: searchcloudcomputing.techtarget.com-What to know before migrating applications to the cloud

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Can managed services be the key to bimodal IT success for mid-market businesses?

IT professionals are buzzing about Gartner’s newly coined term “bimodal IT”, a method of service delivery that allows IT teams to split their focus into two separate, coherent modes: stability and agility. The latter encompasses day-to-day IT operations, which are essential to the safety and reliability of an organisation’s IT environment. The former is centred on innovation that allows the IT team to experiment and identify new ways of using technology to meet the fast-evolving demands of the business.

Today, according to Gartner, 45 per cent of CIOs use a bimodal IT service management strategy. By 2017, Gartner predicts that 75 per cent of organisations will have implemented bimodal IT strategies. In a different survey by a separate organisation, however, the majority of CIOs – 63 per cent, to be exact – said their IT spending was weighted too heavily toward the maintenance side of IT, leaving little room for new projects.

Lack of resources to dedicate to innovation is a challenge for mid-market businesses especially, as they typically have limited IT staff, and the staff they do have are too consumed with troubleshooting and helpdesk issues to drive new developments.

So how are the majority of businesses going to adopt a bimodal approach to IT service delivery within the next couple of years if the modes are imbalanced? For some businesses, the solution lies with managed services.

Bimodal IT and managed services

Some organisations are choosing to outsource basic IT functions such as helpdesk, which allows the IT unit to take a more holistic role in the business. With the changes in the nature of IT sourcing, Gartner believes that smaller IT suppliers will be able to respond rapidly to requirements, while also scaling quicker solutions by utilising cloud capabilities.

By outsourcing IT functions to a managed service provider (MSP), internal staff are then free to invest more time in IT innovation that allows the business to remain agile in a competitive marketplace. But while innovation plays a key role in advancing the business, organisations can’t afford for their service delivery times to suffer. For a business to have a successful MSP relationship that doesn’t detract from the organisation’s future progress, the business should ask the MSP the following questions:

Are you able to accommodate our current and future IT needs?

It may seem obvious, but it’s crucial for an MSP to have experience supporting the specific functions that will be outsourced. If a business is outsourcing the helpdesk, for example, any IT vendor that will be working on hardware should have engineers that possess a variety of skills and are fully qualified to repair equipment from an array of manufacturers (having someone without the proper qualifications work on equipment could void manufacturer warranties). The MSP will also need to be equipped to support any new technologies the business plans to implement in the future.

What are your guaranteed service levels?

The MSP’s promised service levels must be backed by service level agreements (SLAs), and the business must carefully examine these SLAs to ensure they align with the organisation’s goals and expectations. If possible, the business should also evaluate the MSP’s service quality by having the provider demonstrate typical response times and provide quantifiable metrics of success.

What degrees of support do you offer?
To prevent operational IT issues distracting the IT team from new projects, the business needs to contract the amount of coverage that guarantees the MSP will resolve IT issues satisfactorily. MSPs typically offer varying degrees of support, such as 24/7, remote or on-site support. If the MSP doesn’t offer a package that meets the organisation’s needs in terms of both budget and support coverage, the business might need to request that the MSP create a customised solution.
For businesses to stay afloat in a competitive marketplace, technological innovation is a must. Although mid-market businesses might struggle to implement bimodal IT strategies with dedicated in-house staff, working with an MSP can free up the time and skill necessary to focus on progress and ensure their spot as one of Gartner’s projected 75 per cent of businesses that have implemented a bimodal strategy.

Source: itproportal – Can managed services be the key to bimodal IT success for mid-market businesses?