Moving from on-premise tools to cloud computing solutions is a top priority for many businesses in the current environment. These tools can offer a wide range of benefits, from lower costs to greater flexibility, and have become the first choice for many critical IT operations.
One of the most important forms of cloud computing for many organizations will be Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), the backend infrastructure vital for running an IT network, and will include shifting resources such as servers, storage, networking and virtualization tools to the cloud.
According to research by Gartner, this is the fastest-growing sector of the cloud market, with the research firm forecasting it to grow by 24% year-on-year in 2020, compared with growth of 17% for the public cloud market as a whole. By the end of this year, it predicted IaaS revenue will reach $50 billion, before surpassing $74 billion by the end of 2022.
Why migrate your infrastructure to IaaS?
There are numerous reasons for the growth in popularity of IaaS. One of the main reasons is because it’s often easier, faster and more cost-efficient to secure these resources in the cloud than it would be to build and maintain an on-premise data center.
Cloud infrastructure also promises much greater flexibility to users, enabling them to easily scale their operations up and down to cope with fluctuating demand or the changing needs of a growing business.
With this in mind, here are a few key factors you need to be aware of before undertaking such a consequential move for your business. Ensuring you have complete answers to the questions below will help make the move as efficient and stress-free as possible and set up your enterprise well for the years to come.
Establishing what workloads you'll be moving
The first step will be determining which of your workloads will be best-suited to being migrated to the cloud. Some firms may wish to take all of their infrastructure tools and move them to these services, but this may not always be advisable or practical depending on the type of operations you have.
For example, some legacy applications may rely on operating systems that aren't compatible with the cloud, or still depend on physical hardware. This doesn't mean they can't be migrated to the cloud, but it will involve extra time and effort to transform them into a workable solution. You'll have to decide whether to keep them where they are, take the time to make the necessary changes, or even consider upgrading to more cloud-focused alternatives.
It's therefore vital to conduct a full audit of your existing IT infrastructure to build an accurate picture of where your applications are located and what infrastructure they depend on. This can also help you identify which parts of your operations will be particularly well-suited to IaaS platforms. For instance, look for workloads that have high spikes in demand at certain times, as you can improve your performance significantly by making these a priority for migration.
Choosing the right migration process
When it comes to the move itself, there are a few choices available. There's no one solution that will be the best for every scenario, so it pays to understand what your options are and what benefits they offer. For instance, Gartner identifies three key approaches for moving an on-premise data center to IaaS:
1. The 'lift-and-shift' approach
This approach is probably the most straightforward and involves moving workloads to the cloud so they remain as unchanged as possible. This may be the simplest and fastest method, provided your workloads are suitable for cloud moves, but it makes little use of cloud-native features and can often mean you're not taking full advantage of what the platforms can offer.
2. The automation-focused approach
This approach modifies workloads to take advantage of what the cloud can offer. This involves greater standardization and cleanup of existing operations to make the most of the automation tools the cloud can provide, and can offer a cost-effective, resilient solution. Gartner suggests this approach is useful for organizations that are looking to avoid running their own data center altogether, or those aiming to implement innovative technology more quickly.
3. The DevOps approach
This approach emphasizes agility and makes as much use of cloud-native features as possible. This can offer the greatest benefits to a business, with workloads fully adapted to the modern, cloud-first environment, but it’s also the most complex and disruptive way of moving to the cloud and will require the biggest operational changes.
The questions to ask your cloud provider
Once you have a clear idea of your current workload requirements and know which operations are to be migrated, and in what manner, you can go about selecting a cloud provider. These may all seem to offer similar services, but it’s likely there will be key differences in areas such as the responsibilities they take on, the security and access control tools they offer and who will be liable for any issues.
Before approaching a vendor, you need to calculate your expected usage and what this will translate to in terms of resources required. You can then work out your expected costs and ask vendors what provisions they have for scaling up. You also need to consider what level of downtime will be acceptable for your operations.
While most providers will be well-equipped to handle security threats, as they benefit from the economies of scale to deliver the strongest possible defenses, you'll still need them to be clear on exactly what solutions they have in place. Ask to see proof they comply with key security standards and make sure their data protection policies are in line with your own.
Once you have a strong grasp of these issues, you can set about making your migration to the cloud a success. There will still be a lot of work to do, but by developing a comprehensive strategy and following a clear roadmap, you should be able to minimize the risk of failure and set your business on the right course for years to come.