UncategorizedWhy early workload assessment smooths public cloud migration

Why early workload assessment smooths public cloud migration

Find out why taking the time to assess workloads and identify dependencies now can smooth cloud migration

Increasingly, the public sector is rushing to the cloud. Prompted by the government’s cloud first policy, which states that when procuring new or existing services public sector organisations should consider and fully evaluate potential cloud solutions before considering other options, the adoption of cloud is a case of not if, but when, and is accepted as an integral part of digital transformation.

Yet, adoption of cloud services involves many considerations and requires numerous obstacles to be negotiated along the way. Public sector organisations need to navigate the complexity of planning, migrating and operating in a multi-cloud environment, all against the backdrop of maintaining existing service provision.

The cloud-first mentality has led many organisations to head straight to the public cloud. However, as many It directors have found to their cost, not all workloads are suited to the public cloud; sometimes a hybrid cloud model is the best fit, as could be a private cloud. For ageing legacy workloads, significant rework, re-architecture, consolidation or retirement might also be on the table, as well as more traditional ‘lift-and-shift’ options.

Preparation and planning

With the above in mind, it’s therefore essential to put in the hard yards to assess workloads and determine the best cloud platform to migrate to. This includes assessing both the technical and business needs of the workload.

Not performing this type of due diligence prior to migration can have costly repercussions. This includes one of the more drastic: the need to migrate a workload back out of a public cloud environment. In 2017, IDG Research conducted a survey commissioned by Datalink, the cloud and data centre division of Insight Enterprises. Over half of the respondents (52%) reported having to move one or more workloads back from a public cloud to an on-premises model.

This type of real-world experience has made organisations more measured today in their approach to cloud migration. Seventy five percent of IT leaders in the survey said they were now more cautious than they had been a year ago when deciding whether or not to migrate specific workloads to a public cloud environment.

Identifying dependencies

So, where do you start when it comes to assessing workloads? Investigating the technical and business needs of a workload is a good start, but success lies in getting the details right.

It’s well documented that the public sector struggles with legacy IT – and this is where gaining a thorough insight of the details really matters. After all, some legacy applications have many dependencies and data flows. All of these interconnecting parts can be tough to identify and detangle before the workload can be made “cloud-ready.” Even then, some may never get there without investing first in significant re-architecture.

Other workloads may have strict compliance and security needs that also may not make public cloud a good fit.

Then there are seemingly benign workloads with web front ends that look to scale easily. These are often considered ideal for cloud migration. While many may be, careful vetting is still needed before moving even these types of workloads to a public cloud environment.

An example

Writing in an article for TechTarget, John O’Shaughnessy, a senior consultant with the cloud and data centre transformation division at Insight pointed to an example in a white paper, Public Cloud Workload Migration: 9 Common Mistakes to Avoid. Here, the organisation’s upper management wanted to migrate several application workloads to the cloud. The workloads had pre-existing web front ends and seemed easily scalable. Why not do so?

During the initial assessment period, the back-end database for these workloads was found to also be critical to hundreds of other applications in the organisation. All of those apps needed ongoing access and communication with the database. Further, it was discovered that as many as 50 apps comprised a single workload, with each app similarly dependent on the same database.

Could this workload go to the cloud as it stood? Not likely. Application owners were not surprised by the assessment’s outcome. This particular legacy architecture was too monolithic and tangled to make such workloads a good, short-term candidate for cloud migration. Only after the assessment, however, did company management realise that such workloads (in their current state) could not be easily migrated.

Understanding security

While that white paper highlights many common mistakes, it’s clear that they can be avoided by the right upfront, internal research regarding each workload. They can also be avoided by using best practices to assess the right workload or platform alignment.

Additionally, thorough understanding of the tools and techniques for managing security and implementing governance in the cloud will be key to a successful public cloud deployment.

A lack of defined objectives, outcomes and measurements for post-migration success also can trip up organisations’ cloud migration efforts.

Ultimately, investing time conducting due diligence on the front end ensures that organisations lay the groundwork for a smooth transition to public cloud and gain the benefits public cloud has to offer.

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