Cloud migration

Using cloud services means getting rid of a significant part of your own IT infrastructure, reducing the cost of its administration and maintenance, flexibility and ability to cope with peak loads. Today, cloud solutions demanded by the market are promoted by a large number of vendors: it is believed that the future of cloud technologies.

You can find many cases, including Russian ones, demonstrating the successful migration of IT infrastructure to the provider's cloud. Companies use the cloud as an additional platform for non-critical services, such as a software development and testing environment (PaaS), or completely transfer the IT infrastructure to the cloud (according to the IaaS model).

Cloud usage scenarios are becoming more complex, and companies are increasingly moving critical systems and services to them. Organizations with seasonal bursts of activity, or those who expect a rapid growth in the client base, often move to the cloud platform. This helps them cope with peak loads and scale the resources used. Also, geographically distributed companies (for example, large retail chains) migrate to the clouds with their own data centers, large companies that find it difficult to manage their expanded IT park, or companies in the SMB segment where there are not enough resources to purchase and maintain servers and storage systems. And for start-up companies and new lines of business, leasing IT facilities allows you to quickly start.

Large providers of public cloud services - Microsoft Azure, Amazon, Oracle and others - are responsible for the maintenance and operation of the service, for its reliability, security, availability, scalability, data protection and safety, etc. These services can be very profitable and attractive for price, as large providers have the opportunity to use their own technology and receive special conditions from equipment vendors, in addition, the “economies of scale” work.

On the other hand, when working with Russian cloud providers and data centers in Russia, there are fewer sanctions and other risks (recall the problems with access to cloud services when Roskomnadzor attempts to block the Telegram messenger), lower network latency, fewer problems with meeting regulatory safety requirements and storage of personal data, and the conditions may be more flexible.

Business in the clouds

According to the Flexera Cloud Solutions: Current State report (Rightscale 2019 State of the Cloud Report from Flexera), 94% of respondents already use one or another cloud solution, and companies' cloud costs continue to grow rapidly. Their planned spending on public clouds in 2019 is 24% higher than in 2018. On average, 38% of the workload of respondents falls on public clouds, and 41% is private. In small and medium-sized businesses, the proportion is different: 43% are public clouds, 35% are private.

IT departments in companies and enterprises focus on managing cloud resources and optimizing the cost of cloud technology. 66% of enterprises already have a dedicated group of cloud technology specialists, or a center of competence and excellence. 21% of companies plan to organize it. The priority in the activities of IT departments is considered to be cost optimization and competent management of cloud resources (68%), preparation of arguments and decision-making about which applications and in which cloud environments to use (62%), thinking out and setting policies for cloud applications (59%) .

According to Oracle, in the next ten years, up to 80% of business applications will be transferred to the clouds, almost all corporate data will migrate there, and all application development and testing will be performed in the cloud.

How to get into the cloud?

Enterprises are moving workloads to the cloud for a variety of reasons, whether they are eliminating data centers, migrating legacy workloads, or creating and running high-performance applications in a more flexible environment. Running traditional and native cloud-based work applications in the cloud requires consistently high performance and reliability across the entire stack.

For many organizations that have not yet used the capabilities of cloud technology, the most important issue is “ migration to the cloud ” - preparation for moving the company's IT infrastructure to virtual space in order to improve the quality of services and reduce operating costs. What steps are needed for this? Migration includes developing a plan, deploying infrastructure in the cloud, moving data, testing infrastructure, and launching services.

1. Choosing a cloud provider

Migration to the cloud involves moving data, settings, services and applications from the local site of the company or organization to the virtual data center of the cloud provider. Such migration usually takes several days. A serious task is to choose a service provider - a cloud provider that meets all the requirements of a migration project.

2. Inventory of IT infrastructure

If this choice is made, then you should start with a thorough inventory of your infrastructure, including physical network and IT equipment, software, and services. Often this not only promotes migration, but also allows you to optimize your IT infrastructure, put things in order in it, redistribute processes and workloads, without which it will be extremely difficult to successfully transfer to the cloud. It will provide a clear idea of ​​the existing IT infrastructure, understand how the components interact with each other, and so on. This will facilitate the migration process and simplify the testing of services transferred to the cloud.

3. List for relocation

If many modern business applications were originally designed to work in the cloud infrastructure, then with legacy software, everything is not easy. Reengineering of such systems and their quality audit may be required. You need to make a detailed list of services transferred to the cloud, related information systems and the computing, network and storage resources they need. In short, we need an accurate list of everything that should move to the cloud.

To do this, you need to understand what process and what is needed, how much resources it consumes, what are the security requirements, after which you can determine what should be taken to the cloud.

When deciding on the use of clouds, companies often wonder how safe it is to transfer corporate data to the cloud. Although modern cloud services are characterized by a fairly high level of security, you should not "take out" everything in the cloud, this can be fraught with serious risks for business.

If the customer himself cannot perform such work, then the providers often offer their services in the initial audit of information systems . This audit allows us not only to better plan the transfer of services to the cloud platform, but also to identify current shortcomings and problems of the existing IT landscape and eliminate them.

4. The choice of migration tools

Next, you need to decide on the migration tools. The presence of a virtualized environment simplifies the matter - the transfer of virtual servers is quite simple. There are special P2V tools for “converting” physical servers into virtual machines, although there are pitfalls here too. Companies often have concerns about security, the scale and complexity of the task, the uncertainty of migration routes, disparate toolkits, and lack of experience.

Meanwhile, vendors are constantly working on expanding the possibilities of migrating applications and databases between the client’s data center and the cloud, trying to ensure the coexistence of cloud and local applications / data and their migration between the customer’s site and the cloud with one click. For example, with Oracle, the load can indeed be easily transferred between the customer’s site and the cloud.

VMware vCloud Extender allows you to combine clouds and transfer VMs to the cloud using an intuitive graphical interface. To convert a physical server into a virtual machine and transfer it to the provider's cloud, you can use the VMware vCenter Converter utility. In this case, the main server continues to work. Another option is to create images of physical disks, convert them to virtual disk format and transfer them to the provider's cloud, into a virtual environment. Another method of “natural” relocation is backing up and restoring at a new site.

5. Network connectivity

A separate issue is ensuring the network interaction of the client’s IT infrastructure and the provider's cloud platform, that is, network connectivity. It is solved by the joint efforts of the provider and the client. Communication channels should guarantee user access to the cloud . For this, it may be necessary to take into account the routing, addressing, bandwidth and reliability of communication channels, as well as information security (for example, the need for a VPN), horizontal (increasing the number of VMs) and vertical (increasing the power of a particular VM) cloud scalability.

6. Drawing up a detailed migration plan

The migration plan will contain information about services transferred to the cloud at all stages with the ability to verify each stage. It reflects what exactly will be transferred to the cloud, in what sequence, in what time frame. The success of subsequent processes and stages depends on this. The migration plan lists critical and important services, taking into account the priority of their transfer. In most cases, migration is possible without stopping the service.

In terms of migration, it is necessary to determine the indicators of RTO (downtime) and RPO (amount of data loss) and ways to minimize them. Updating and modifying applications is better before migrating, otherwise it will be difficult to identify the source of the problems. Dependency maps of applications will help to develop mechanisms for the correct transfer to the cloud. A clear migration plan also prescribes data transfer procedures.

7. Test migration

Migration is a phased process, and it is better to start it with a test migration. Ask the selected provider for test access to the cloud and work out the migration procedures on simple services.

Gradual and phased allows you to quickly identify and eliminate problems arising in the process of transfer. To transfer everything at once is not only inconvenient, but also extremely risky. Gradual or partial migration is the preferred option for an organization with a distributed infrastructure.

Before starting the test migration, it’s useful to determine the requirements for the availability and availability of the cloud service.

Useful Tips

Carrying out the migration project, it is necessary to control as much as possible all the steps taken. Identifying errors in the early stages will help to achieve the desired results and save time.

In a large-scale IT infrastructure, it is better to highlight the most critical elements and migrate during the period when they are minimally used.

When migrating services, you can create a copy of the service in the cloud, on the provider's side, synchronize it with the local service, make sure the cloud service works correctly and take the local service out of service.

In some cases, special requirements are imposed on the security of network communications between the client’s office and the cloud service, and their verification of potential vulnerabilities. In such a situation, it makes sense to contact the service provider with the appropriate competence. Experts will advise on the best solutions, including a wide range of data protection services.

If you act according to plan and pay due attention to important details, you will be able to get the expected result. Experts will help you find and apply the best industry practices, avoid costly mistakes and downtime.

Scenarios and options for implementation

Possible scenarios include the complete transfer of a specific business application to the cloud , the migration of individual functions, the deployment of new services, or the interoperability of on-premises and cloud services. In this case, public, private or hybrid clouds can be used, or multi-cloud environments are gaining popularity. Various options for the implementation and charging of cloud structures, their composition and functionality.

Cloud providers, system integrators who own their own virtualized data centers, offer services to provide a secure and efficient IT infrastructure deployed in their cloud. If necessary, the client can get at his disposal a dedicated and fully operational virtual data center (WDC).

Depending on the needs and business tasks of the client, such a data center includes computing resources (virtual processors, virtual random access memory), resources for storing information (virtual disk space with declared performance), network infrastructure, management and monitoring system, and various other software : operating system, DBMS, applications, specialized products for big data analysis, virtual routers, self-government tools, backup services tion, replication, information security, etc.

To access information systems in the cloud, the Internet, L2 and L3 VPN channels, GOST VPN, or optical fiber rental are used.

The cloud acts as a proven platform for most application systems and business applications, providing load scaling, deployment of test environments or parts of the corporate infrastructure in a virtual private cloud.

It can be used as a platform for systems or business applications with fixed performance requirements (for example, virtual exchanges, 1C), or as a platform for systems and applications that do not need high performance (test and development environments).

The cloud can relieve you of non-core IT tasks, allowing you to focus on your business. All tasks to support and maintain IT infrastructure are undertaken by a specialized company. It provides SLA parameters prescribed in the contract, quick response of business applications, a high level of information security, offers professional services .

The benefits of the cloud have long been known:
Cost effectiveness
Lack of capital costs and optimization of operating costs, payment for actually used resources.
Business continuity
High level of service availability, continuity of critical IT processes.
Fast implementation and modernization
The service, which is completely ready for work, is provided within one working day; the implementation of new systems, depending on complexity, takes several hours.
Effective information protection tools, round-the-clock monitoring, quick response to incidents, protection of confidential data from leaks.
Data security
The ability to recover data of a certain prescription in case of their deletion in the office.
Reliability and performance
Modern industrial solutions of the world's leading vendors.

The success of the transition to the cloud is influenced by the maturity of business processes in the company, the presence of a strategy for its development and the willingness of management to change. Of course, each such project is individual, the requirements of customers are diverse, different scenarios are possible. In addition, not all organizations have such competencies, therefore, we need a competent partner with relevant experience.


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