Fundamentals

Build Your Blueprint to the Cloud

A cloud migration is not as simple as taking your current on-premises workloads and moving them to a cloud environment. Many cloud applications have unique migration paths that need to be integrated.

First, you must take into account the following cloud migration considerations:

  • security and compliance regulations,
  • bandwidth usage,
  • software compatibility,
  • risk tolerance, and
  • business drivers.

Then, you need to develop a strategic and scalable cloud migration strategy and project plan by evaluating the benefits of on-premises and cloud solutions against your business' top priorities and goals. 

Before we get into all of that, let's cover the basics. Here are the cloud migration terms you need to know:

CLOUD SERVICE MODELS:

  1. Infrastructure-as-a-Service: IaaS is the foundation of the solution stack consisting of the data center, servers, storage, and the network. Here, your virtual infrastructure is available on-demand through an API or webbased console. Think of this as the windows, doors, and roof on a house.

  2. Platform-as-a-Service: PaaS is the next level up on the stack and includes the computing operating systems your applications need to run on. This is typically the preferred model for large scale application deployments. Compare to the lighting, electric, and HVAC systems in a house, or in other words, what you need in order to live there.

  3. Software-as-a-Service: SaaS sits at the top of the stack. Here, the end-user is responsible only for managing user access, while the service provider handles updates, service assurance, and everything else foundational to the platform. Think of the appliances, art work, and other accoutrements in your home that add to the living space.

CLOUD DELIVERY MODELS:

  1. Private Cloud: Exclusive use for an organization or group, not shared, which can be deployed on or off-premise.

  2. Community Cloud: A private cloud for a select group of organizations or consumers providing shared services out of a single data center.

  3. Public Cloud: For use by the general public, housed at the cloud provider’s data centers.

  4. Hybrid Cloud: Two or more of the models listed above, combined to meet the needs of a cloud services consumer.

 

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What is a Cloud Service?

Virtualization and Cloud are not the same thing.

Virtualization is the process of separating compute environments from its physical infrastructure which enables multiple applications and operating systems to run on the same server at the same time.

This is a foundational element of cloud computing, and the cloud often will contain virtualization products to deliver shared computing resources. However,  the main difference is that the characteristics which deem a service as “cloud” are not inherent in virtualization. 

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a Cloud service must...

  1. Be an on-demand self service in which a customer can self-provision compute, storage, etc., without human interaction.

  2. Contain broad network access with reachability and platform options (including thin and thick clients, phones, tablets).

  3. Be a multi-tenant environment fostering location-independence.

  4. Support rapid elasticity with the ability to grow and shrink based on policy, with no impact to applications or users.

  5. Be a measured service, metered by performance with a pay-as-you-go pricing model.

[Suggested Reading: Navigate the Transition towards Hybrid Cloud + SDN]

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Benefits

One of the many benefits of the cloud is its agility. Here are a few more to consider:

  1. Compliance

    Your data center will probably never meet the compliance posture that cloud providers can offer. Consider what regulatory and governance requirements face your business.

    Evaluate your recent audit findings with respect to gaps, and carefully consider whether you can close those gaps more quickly and at lower cost than you can by addressing them in-house.
  2. Cost

    You can’t build and maintain your applications on-premises at a lower cost than cloud solutions can offer. If you think about what a cloud solution offers at its most basic level, it is scalability or access to a nearly infinitely large set of hardware and software platforms to let you build or buy what you want. Most of it by the hour or the month.

    Cloud service providers give you a way to convert all, or as much as you want, of your future capital expenditures to operating expenses and pay just for what you need. For most organizations, this means an end to expensive hardware refresh cycles, and a significant reduction in existing costs for power, cooling, floor space, maintenance contracts, and a number of other variables.
  3. Innovation

    A huge benefit of moving to the cloud is what the cloud model lets you do that you simply cannot do in-house, such as testing and development at scale, with very little financial risk.

    The palette of service offerings available from cloud providers is so vast, and so rapidly growing, that you can’t help but think of how much innovation is suddenly possible when you move to the cloud.

Risks

RISK COME WITH CHANGE, BUT THOSE RISKS ARE MANAGEABLE WITH THE RIGHT APPROACH

As you weigh your options, remember that the cloud isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Think about the cloud as an extension of your own IT environment, not as a replacement for it—at least not right away.

With that mindset, you can choose to enter the cloud at any pace that makes sense for your business.

Here is the approach we recommend:

  • Start small.
  • Get comfortable.
  • Put the pieces in place: The training, the experience, and the processes.

Then, when you experience a business driver that makes a larger cloud move the right one for your business, you’ll be ready for it.

Security

MOVING YOUR DATA TO THE CLOUD DOES NOT COMPROMISE ITS SECURITY.

If you look at it statistically, you’ll find that by far most security breaches occur in the data centers or server computing centers of small and medium sized businesses. 

The best cloud providers have much stronger security practices than you can implement in-house at a reasonable cost. They’ve made the investments to provide infrastructure, tools, and processes that give them the highest levels of security and privacy certifications. 

Here are four ways to ensure that your cloud-based deployments are at least as strong as your in-house data center (and probably moreso):

  1. Look for solutions that provide data encryption on the move and at rest.

  2. Look for, and properly implement, robust identity and access management systems.

  3. Always use multifactor authentication.

  4. Put good processes in place for key management.

[Suggested Reading: The Nexus of Security and Cloud]

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Partner Selection

Choosing the Right Partner is Critical

When it comes to cloud providers, you have many choices so it is imperative to have a strategy for differentiating between them. Here are a few key questions you can ask as your evaluate cloud providers:

  1. “How secure is my data?” 

    You need to understand the cloud provider’s strategy and implementation of data security. Determine who is responsible for it at each layer of the technology stack. Understanding compliance models such as SOC 2, HIPAA, and any requirements specific to your industry, will be a big help in decoding this topic.

  2. “How well protected is my data?” 

    What you’re getting at here is what happens to your data once you push it into the cloud... Is it replicated elsewhere to protect it from single points of failure? How many places? What’s the provider’s SLA around data loss for each service that involves storing your data? What do the providers do in terms of separation of responsibilities and audits to ensure that your data can’t be deleted accidentally—or maliciously—by their own people?

  3. “Where is my data?” 

    Can you control the location of your data? Can the provider tell you where your data is stored, specific to at least a country or region? Some compliance standards such as ITAR require this level of knowledge and specific access controls, as well.

  4. “What unique solutions does the provider offer, and what’s their pace of innovation?” 

    You can learn a lot by how providers answer this question. Can they clearly articulate their rollout of innovative services, or do they seem to be playing catch-up? How many tools do they offer you at no cost to help you migrate and optimize what you do in the cloud? What limits do they impose or technologies do they not offer that may impair your ability to broadly adopt their services?

  5. “What’s the provider’s history in terms of cloud uptime?” 

    Some providers will tout their SLAs, which is helpful—you need a commitment from them. But what are their statistical uptime levels over the recent past, say, 12-24 months? You can research this on your own quite easily, thanks to published reports and independent groups that measure cloud provider uptime.

Roadmap

4 STEPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL CLOUD MIGRATION

  1. Understand your security and compliance requirements.

    Identify the people who are responsible for regulatorycompliance and governance, and information security, within your organization. Get them involved early in the discussion and in the decision-making process.

  2. Understand your application requirements and dependencies.

    Look at how data is structured in terms of application tiers. What’s considered tier 1, tier 2, tier 3, and something less than tier 3? Start by bucketing out what each tier contains, what platforms they’re deployed on, and how they interact with each other.

  3. Understand your networking and architecture requirements.

    Identify bandwidth, quality of service, firewalling traffic isolation requirements for each of the key elements of your environment. Cloud network security is fundamentally different than traditional on-premises networking; understand how the abstraction of access control from the physical network infrastructure can work in your favor.

  4. Understand storage performance requirements by application.

    In an on-premises deployment, you have relatively limited options in terms of storage. You may have high-performance storage, but it’s generally limited; you may have capacity storage, but generally with low performance.

ROI

How to Calculate the Return on Your Cloud Investment

Use this four-step formula to better understand the ROI on your cloud-based IT solutions:

  1. Define the time period for measurement.

    Defining a time period for measurement, such as three or five years, will give your ROI calculation realistic boundaries. It will also allow for you to tangibly see the benefits of cloud-based solutions working for your business throughout various periods of time. 

    Objectives should be measurable and achievable; attaching a time frame to your business goal is a great way to make it more attainable.

  2. Next, calculate the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

    You should calculate the TCO based on the time period you have allotted above. This step should not be too difficult, as long as you are comprehensive in your approach. When calculating the TCO, you should consider the cost of equipment, the projected lifespan of that equipment, and the cost of capital.

    More specifically, you should consider the cost of servers, storage, the network, the power, and the cooling. Also, keep in mind labor costs for operating and maintaining the hardware and software. When calculating the TCO, it is wise to be as thorough as possible, as this will allow for the most accurate ROI estimate.

  3. Calculate the return in the same period.

    The “return” refers to the value of expected benefits resulting from the investment. This step may be a little difficult due to the fact that there are different types of benefits that go along with the various types of on-premises and cloud solutions. 

    When you compile the list of benefits of each solution, you realize that you have two very different lists-with overlapping core benefits, of course. This is because on-premises and cloud are not two different ways to do the same thing. With this in mind, calculating the return is a critical part of determine the total ROI of cloud-based IT solutions.  

  4. Finally plug the numbers into the ROI formula: 
    ROI = (Return – TCO) / TCO (expressed as a percentage).

    Although this formula may seem a bit daunting, it is actually quite simple. Once each individual part of the formula has been determined, namely the TCO and Return, plugging the numbers into the formula should be easy. 

For example, a $100,000 TCO and a $300,000 Return will result in a 200% ROI over the measurement period. Simple, right?

Getting Started

Start a Pilot Project on the AWS Cloud

Amazon’s cloud is 10x bigger than its next 14 competitors combined. Many organizations today are advancing their business through the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud by:

  1. Achieving enterprise-class IT performance without upfront costs.

  2. Gaining a global footprint in hours, not months.

  3. Focusing on core business activities instead of IT infrastructure.

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[Suggested Reading: Harnessing the Power of the AWS Cloud]

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Are You Cloud-Ready?

USE THESE QUESTIONS TO BEGIN DETERMINING IF A CLOUD MIGRATION WOULD BE A FIT FOR YOUR BUSINESS:

  1. How do you currently support after hours, weekend, and holiday issues?

  2. What is your current back up and disaster recovery strategy?

  3. Do you have difficulty meeting any regulatory or compliance needs?

  4. Where is your data today?

  5. What does your organization currently lease?

  6. What critical applications or infrastructure do you plan to upgrade in the next 6-12 months?

  7. What cloud-based services or providers have you used?

SCHEDULE A CLOUD READINESS ASSESSMENT:

Annese, a ConvergeOne Company can assess your technical requirements, business objectives, and operational needs to design your custom migration to the cloud.

Just pop in your information below and we will contact you to determine next steps.