Here at ASG we are continually helping our clients migrate to the cloud. Sometimes it turns out that this is not in their best interest, but other times we see many benefits in doing so. One of the most important things for businesses considering moving their data center applications and services to the cloud is working with an experienced hybrid cloud integrator and reseller to make sure you do this migration correctly the first time. The consequences of a poorly planned cloud migration can make for a huge mis-calculation of expenses, poor end-user experience, and potentially severe security breaches and/or application downtime.
Here is our 10-step cloud pre-migration checklist to ensure a smooth cloud transition. Please reach out to us if you need assistance with any of these.
- Cloud Analysis and Validation. Ensure moving to the cloud is a good business idea by conducting a cloud analysis and cost review. Thoroughly review your workload environment and generate a detailed report of your risk-rated findings. Migrating business applications and services into a public cloud requires a thoughtful consideration of the challenges, trade-offs, and costs. Hidden and unknown cloud charges are often the norm for first time migrations. Businesses need to not only plan for storage and CPU usage rates, but you also need to plan for egress network and bandwidth costs. Although there are pricing calculators to track cloud costs, such as AWS Pricing Calculator, Microsoft Azure Pricing Calculator and Google Cloud Platform Pricing Calculator, understanding real world usage is often an issue.
- Public Cloud Vendor(s). Obviously, companies need to be careful when selecting your cloud provider and application cloud architecture (hybrid, multi-cloud, or both) for your business applications and data center services. Some applications might be easily replaced using a SaaS deployment model while others might require using cloud native services. The process of determining the best cloud vendor is mainly predicated by your business application requirements and through conducting well-architected reviews for each cloud platform under consideration.
- Digital Experience Management. Ensuring a “good” end-user experience is important before you move your business applications and services to the cloud. Review the need for WAN or SaaS acceleration and investigate the need for application performance management or end-user experience management. Traditional monitoring solutions are often focused on a single technology area or cannot scale to support the cloud’s dynamic, distributed environment. They miss the big picture and what matters most: the human experience. It is important to collect detailed performance analytics across all devices, apps, networks, and infrastructure for a holistic view of the digital experience of your customers and employees.
- Endpoint Security. Each endpoint (mobile, laptop, tablet) connecting to your network constitutes a potential gateway directly into your IT infrastructure. Cloud data traffic moves in and out of endpoints and applications interact with the endpoints all the time, which can create security holes when unmonitored. At a minimum, endpoint security must also include port control, application control, data loss prevention, sandboxing, secure email gateways, and cloud perimeter security. Investigate endpoint policy management by reviewing the need to unify all endpoint security for desktops, tablets and mobile devices. It is imperative to be able to monitor, manage, educate and enforce endpoint policies to your end users to protect your business applications and services.
- Network Fault Tolerance. An important step before moving to the cloud is to have a cloud-optimized WAN solution to improve network access to the cloud with policies to determine priority, line speed, and path selection. Now that most if not all of your employees will be using cloud-based applications, it is critical to ensure reliable connectivity for all locations and users. Other considerations for cloud connectivity include being able to rapidly deploy Wi-Fi networks, WAN gateways, and new applications at branch offices and for remote users.
- Cloud and SaaS Security. Investigate solutions that protect against sophisticated malware, zero-day attacks and account breaches. Cloud cybersecurity solutions can be provided via a managed security service that takes care of your cloud security needs. Managed security services can minimize the cloud attack surface and ensure compliance and governance standards. Remember, the cloud uses a shared responsibility model. That means it’s your responsibility to understand how setup security for your requirements.
- Hybrid Cloud Storage. Depending on the nature of your business applications and services, it might be necessary to investigate using a hybrid cloud storage solution for existing on-prem storage needs. Now that you are using the cloud more than your on-prem infrastructure, it might make more sense to use a hybrid cloud storage solution that is optimized for the asymmetric nature of data access. One of the enablers for smooth lift and shift workload movement is the ability to use similar underlying services in the public cloud environment as with on-premise. And even with hybrid applications running in the public cloud or on-prem, they also need to be architected in such a manner to allow easy interoperability across the hybrid landscape, and consistency across the environments which makes hybrid operations so much easier.
- Intelligent IT Operations. Once in the cloud it is important to monitor and control your cloud infrastructure, including having automatic alerts if it has been modified or is experiencing anomalistic behavior. Moving to the cloud requires the ability to roll back or roll forward configuration changes or patches across your complete infrastructure automatically. If not addressed quickly, mis-configurations can potentially expose security vulnerabilities which can be magnified once you are in the cloud.
- Backup and Recovery. There’s a common misconception that by putting anything in the cloud, you get 100% data protection. But cloud vendors only provide for availability and reliability of the vendors’ services. They do not take on the responsibility for customers’ data. Determine the best way to perform backup and recovery of all your cloud data and applications. In some cases, it might make more sense to architect a data tiering solution instead and leverage “cheap and deep” cloud storage for a archive tier.
- Maintenance Contracts. Start planning now on how to consolidate and deprecate your existing on-prem vendor maintenance contracts once you move to the cloud. Perform maintenance contract analysis to review, verify and reconcile all vendor support contracts including hardware and software reviews to ensure they are in-sync with vendor records and have an auditable maintenance record.
Let us know if you need any assistance with your cloud migration. ASG’s combination of data center and cloud expertise enables us to align resources to business outcomes, manage budget expectations, and execute cloud migrations with minimized risk to your business operations. Cloud responsibly!