Cloud migration services is the process of revamping and/or moving existing business processes, technologies, and workloads out of aging environments and into a modern ecosystem that is amicable to playing nice with other business systems.
WinWire has been performing cloud migration of applications and infrastructure for a variety of verticals to both Cloud and Hybrid models. Every business has its share of variety and complexity that comes with legacy platform migrations, which include varying business models and governance and compliance requirements that seem to always come out of woodworks at the most inopportune times.
A proven process we adhere to has the following steps:
- Define Strategy – Understand migration motivation, outcomes, and justification
- Plan – Rationalize which assets are to migrate, get organizational buy-in, plan for skills need
- Readiness – Understand best practices, setup Cloud foundation which are the guardrails for resource provisioning and consumption
- Adopt – Migrate infrastructure, modernize applications, improve processes, rinse and repeat
- Govern – Enforce initial best practices, configure role-based access policies, evaluate, improve
- Manage – Create operations structure, implement monitoring, improve resource usage
Although each migration is unique, we can generally fit them into one or more of these buckets:
Let’s breakdown each category:
1. Rehosting implies moving the asset to a Cloud hosting facility where the resources are managed, and native to working with other Cloud services. This effort is also known as “lift and shift” and is meant to mimic existing architecture with minimal modifications. A service candidate for rehosting is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), no matter which public Cloud is selected.
Typically, this is the least expensive model, and can provide the quickest relief from deadlines related to datacenter shutdown, compliance requirements such as Operating System end-of-life, aging hardware failures, among others. Our experts work with the client’s migration teams to plan and automate most of the processes to mitigate the trial-and-error methods we’ve seen organizations use when doing it alone, which frees up valuable resources to focus on rearchitecting for a modern architecture.
We also enhance the experience and outcome by automating existing tasks such as log rotations, shutdown/startups, and data archival to simplify tasks while migration is happening.
2. Refactoring is the modernization of building block of the application or infrastructure. It allows for faster and more agile replacement, allows the code to be more integration-friendly, and minimized in-flight rebuilding cost. It is overall a great way to modernize an application in pieces while the rest of the organization catches up. Of course, this option may not be the best for all parts of the application, as some areas may need to be re-architected, replaced, or eliminated and that will require enterprise or business group-level Change Management which has its own complexities. Examples of this model include redeveloping VB6-based applications, which is prominent in many Financial institutions, with .NET conversion. Decoupling multiple apps running on the same hardware into individual services that perform the same function, is also another example.
3. Re-architecting is the rebuilding of the workloads with Cloud-native resources to include agility, scale, and compatibility with modern services. This option is time consuming, resource intensive, and high risk, as the entire life cycle needs to be considered from thought to finish. While this sounds like the least attractive option when considered by itself vs. other options combined, it might be the way to go. Our subject matter experts (SME) can help decide which is a more feasible option based on assessments of the entire ecosystem. For example, we’ve (almost) all have been to the dentist.
A typical Patient Management System (PMS) that holds our records is a one-server installation with (upgraded) legacy code and architecture since the beginning of time. The system is often not compatible with newer hardware due to incompatibility of drivers, nor can it use Cloud-based storage systems for data backup or redundancy. Patients’ personal health records and X-rays could be at risk since they sit on a hard drive inside the clinic’s server and are prone to loss in case of a fire, flood, burglary, or other unforeseen acts. By re-architecting pieces of the PMS into Cloud-native and independent functions, integrations with new innovative services will allow for a better patient experience and added revenue for the dentist. For example, Cloud-based CT scan machines can readily used. Data can be on redundant and highly available storage systems, decoupled from the other parts and securely available independently.
4. Rebuilding is also an expensive and risky option because the entire application ecosystem needs to be considered. Not only it involves technology rebuild, but business processes may also potentially have to be rebuilt, which in some cases are more costly due to staff numbers and processes in practice that impact the business. In some Financial institutions for example, Annuity return rates have to be manually entered daily into a Microsoft Access database and then distributed to text files which are read by a variety of legacy ETL jobs and pushed to “Green Screen” systems. Often, that Access database has been maintained and upgraded over the years by someone who is just about to retire.
The code and amount of data that is relied upon to make daily 7-figure decisions are at because of reliance on this system. Best case scenario would be to rebuild and re-architect this application to make it web-friendly, automate manual tasks, and integrate into other business systems to eliminate errors, fraud, among other benefits. This will require a full assessment of the “life of an annuity” process to rebuild. Typically, service candidates for the rebuilding process is Platform as a Service (PaaS), which allows for building of entire services without the need for underlying infrastructure.
5. Replacing is a term that is used interchangeably among executives, and often refers to a combination of the above terms. While technically rehosting is “replacing” old hardware, it’s not a 1:1 comparison. In migration terminology, “replacing” a system could mean the Business uses best-practice processes to select a replacement of the aging technology. For example, a Microsoft Access database contains customer information, and is manually updated with emails from customers by employees, tickets are generated, printed on paper, and put on a doer’s desk. This could be a ticket where addresses need to be updated, EFT information must be changed, or 100s of other requests about the customer; believe it or not, it is still prominent in the Financial industry.
This Access database can now be migrated to a full CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamic 365 which is a “Software as a Service” (SaaS) offering. It automatically updates, scales, and is highly secure without any manual intervention or staff. Sure, some business processes will have to change for the better, but it makes the entire business ecosystem more apt to handle today’s business climate which must offer self-service to reduce customer friction, and helps with talent retention as they work with modern technology that more closely resembles their personal technology familiarity.
Another very common example would be to replace email service from Microsoft Exchange server to Microsoft Office 365 or Google G-Suite. Not only this eliminates the need for hardware, but the staff to manage and secure it, and expensive redundancy measures. Office 365 has a suite of information protection and security services built-in which was not possible with exchange.
6. Retiring is perhaps the least thought-of process, but a necessary one as 1-5 above is implemented. No matter how a workload is migrated, the old systems will now need to be put to rest. Retiring is often considered when other business processes or technology performs the same tasks to continue the day-to-day activities. Some things to think about when retiring infrastructure is who is dependent on it. To recognize the migration ROI, old must be retired to where the cost of maintenance is eliminated. One way to find out whether a system is still in use, is to turn it off and grab some popcorn! But seriously, often, data must still be available for use in case of compliance, customer service, or other reasons.
Migration assists the businesses formulate a streamlined migration strategy to optimize workloads across the organization. It also enables the business zero on to a standardized migration process to meet all IT requirements across the company.
Last thing to consider is that we cannot escape how the data is managed during and after any migration, meaning that data needs to be available, usable, and protected. Security has become a much larger discussion topic among Business and Technology leaders for a variety of legal and business reasons as more systems become integrated and interdependent.
At WinWire, we have experts in all aspects of migration technologies and processes and focus on Microsoft and its suite of technologies as one of the front-runners in the space. Our SMEs can help determine the best Cloud migration strategy for your enterprise.