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Moving to the cloud – are you doing it right?

TechRadar logo TechRadar 26/11/2019 Russell Barley
a close up of a logo: Moving to the cloud – are you doing it right? © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. Moving to the cloud – are you doing it right?

The benefits of choosing the cloud are clear; cloud services can offer much-needed flexibility, scalability and increased productivity for businesses. However, for companies considering moving IT infrastructure to the cloud, ongoing planning and execution is essential in ensuring success. 

Choosing the right option for your business

When it comes to cloud migration, the first decision businesses need to make is choosing the right solution. Public cloud, where a third party provider hosts and looks after cloud storage management of data, is often deemed the most popular choice. However, no two businesses are the same, and every workload, employee and team has different requirements. 

To create a successful cloud strategy, all businesses should explore hybrid and multi-cloud options that can adapt to suit business needs. Enterprise Cloud – a corporate cloud solution that offer a modern IaaS platform – could be the right fit. As it’s highly available, secure, reliable, and has fast software defined networking, it’s often a good choice for businesses. 

However, before making any decision, businesses must ensure they invest the time in truly understanding the productivity and efficiency benefits.

Take the right steps when migrating

The role of any cloud architect is to lead the effort in making sure that the right plan and steps are put in place to make a migration process as effective as possible. A key part of successful migration is checking and confirming that the cloud is working hard for the business’s needs.

From an infrastructure perspective, the migration process is straightforward: analyse workloads, servers and applications; decide on the resources and cloud databases needed and deploy them; monitor the resources, and scale up or down accordingly. 

Then, assess the load cycle of the applications and understand what’s required. If there are seasonal peaks, or perhaps don’t run out-of-hours, map the details and architecture for those usage cycles. Shutdown systems when they’re not needed, and scale systems during on and off-peak times. If that sounds like an intensive maintenance job, put automation tools and cloud logging in place to do it.

We can also take it one step further. Is there a need for the underlying operating system to be present for all your business applications anymore? Is containerisation a better solution for applications and workloads? Is there a requirement to reduce the consumption of resources? If so, maybe a business should explore Managed Kubernetes, and utilise the host of PaaS offerings that cloud providers have available. 

Choose a European provider

For EU businesses, choosing an EU cloud hosting provider can help ensure that business data is secure. While the EU has long been at the forefront of data protection worldwide and has directed much of its legislative effort towards ensuring consumer data protection through GDPR, the rights of European Cloud users are now being called into question.

This is due to the US Cloud Act, passed by Congress in early 2018, which allows US courts to grant warrants to law enforcement agencies forcing the disclosure of customer data stored outside of the US. 

This applies to EU providers that are subsidiaries of US companies and EU-based companies that have a subsidiary in the US. The legislation has direct contradictions with GDPR, and can leave companies facing the situation of breaching the US CLOUD Act on one hand, or GDPR on the other, when being ask to disclose protected data.

With that in mind, for EU companies, the current solution is to choose cloud providers based in the EU that do not store or process data anywhere other than European datacentres. Providers that are subject to EU law must only act in accordance with GDPR, and therefore there is no danger of being obliged to disclose personal data on the basis of the CLOUD Act.

Common mistakes that are made

One of the most common cloud migration strategies is to migrate everything in a ‘lift and shift’ approach, and then to re-factor, re-architect and re-strategise. However, businesses often migrate, but then embark on other projects, and don’t fully complete the transformation. The end result can be a poorly designed infrastructure, limited cloud storage and functionality and a cost that is higher than expected or often budgeted for. 

Another mistake made is taking all ‘requirements’ and ‘rules’ forward from the pre-cloud infrastructure. It’s important to re-ask every question that helped lead to the current infrastructure, as most decisions were made within the boundaries of that set-up. Re-evaluate the choices, and take the opportunity to re-align your technology to business needs and data strategies.

In addition, over-provisioning – where businesses choose increased cloud capacity that isn’t immediately needed - is a common issue as companies act as if they own the hardware themselves. While over-provisioning isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s important to knowingly make that choice to avoid unnecessary expenditure, and continuously re-adjust resources depending on what’s needed.

Finally, if a business has a multi-cloud strategy, a priority focus will be to avoid vendor lock in. Manage Kubernetes can help, but it’s essential to make workloads as portable as possible, should there be a desire to utilise multiple cloud providers. 

When it comes to cloud migration, preparation, planning and ongoing modifications are essential to ensure your business feels the full benefits of the cloud. A business must truly embrace cloud technologies, and shouldn’t be afraid to explore multi and hybrid-cloud options to make cloud-based systems and services the best they can be.

Russell Barley is a Cloud Architect at 1&1 IONOS.

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