In a perfect world, moving from on-premises IT or colocation to cloud hosting will have minimal impact on end users, cause zero downtime or disruption, and generally be a smooth-sailing process.
The reality of course, is that without good preparation, IaaS migrations can run into unforeseen problems during the move from cabinet to cloud – from stability and performance issues to a lack of technical knowledge when it’s needed most.
Nonetheless, there are steps you can take to lay the foundation for a smooth and untroubled transition to cloud hosting, even if they aren’t necessarily obvious upfront. Here are five of our top tips to help you along the way to a well-managed migration, and all of the benefits that a cloud platform can bring to your business.
1. Choose a platform that fits
One of your first tasks when planning an IaaS migration will be to choose a cloud platform (such as VMware or OpenStack) based on the requirements of your business. Many first-time cloud buyers assume this is mostly a matter of cost and functionality, but there’s actually a lot more to consider – different platforms vary wildly in terms of complexity and ease of use, for example, so it’s important to assess whether the skills and resources you have at your disposal are better suited to one over another.
You should also consider the availability of support for the platform, whether from your cloud provider or elsewhere (such as the software developer or online communities). If there’s an issue with the platform and you need assistance from a third-party, you’ll want a fast and effective response – and preferably from someone who understands your business.
2. Be comprehensive in your current environment analysis
As you might imagine, the best way to start your cloud hosting migration is with a comprehensive analysis of your current environment. Take the time to do this thoroughly – for example, for each application you’ll need to think about the portability of licensing, compatibility, any custom development work, along with security and compliance implications.
Overall, a comprehensive analysis of your current environment is vital – it’ll help you identify any possible pitfalls and correct or otherwise address them before they become speed bumps during the migration itself.
3. Be comprehensive in testing your cloud environment
Again, testing your cloud environment before you go live may sound like an obvious way to ensure a smooth IaaS migration. As above, however, it’s easy to underestimate the level of diligence and attention to detail this requires.
So, once you’ve got your cloud environment in place, you’ll want to ensure that your applications are stable and bug-free. In addition, look at how they perform in their new setting: what is latency like, and are you confident that your allocated resources will be able to handle your expected levels of traffic (and that your provider can accommodate any unexpected demand peaks).
Another important part of testing is to ensure that support processes and procedures are in full working order ahead of setting the environment live.
4. Keep your customers in the loop
If the applications you plan on moving to the cloud are customer-facing, it’s vital that you keep your customers in the loop and informed well in advance of any scheduled downtime. Also, if there’s a significant risk of unplanned downtime or disruption during the migration, it’s worth making customers aware and having a business continuity plan in place in case it affects them.
5. Minimise disruption with a phased rollout
Finally, if possible, conduct a phased rollout. This will keep the risk of downtime or disruption to a minimum, make the migration easier to manage for both you and your customers, and allow you to troubleshoot and fix any problems before they cause too many problems.