By Kumarasenthil Muthuvel, Information Technology Leader
Businesses that require field technologies are ripe for using cloud services. As such, migration to the cloud has implications across a wide variety of sectors, including government, public, and transportation to name a few. For example, in the transportation industry, businesses can use cloud technologies to collect data on vehicles and reroute them based on accident data. The ever-changing third-party data formats in real-time transportation logistics can be managed within the cloud and allow for the scalability of object storage through providers like AWS, Google Cloud, or Azure. In fact, cloud service providers (CSP) are typically FedRAMP-certified and cleared to host government data and manage the large amount of data and regulatory updates. With this technology, businesses with significant numbers of representatives in the field can now leverage the internet of things (IoT) with unique identifiers that utilize automation to complete tasks. The low-resource, agile, and remotely trackable IoT is managed and scaled with cloud technology.
A Look At The Numbers
With increasing frequency, companies of all shapes and sizes are looking toward the cloud for technology solutions to meet their evolving and ever-increasing data needs. According to a Tech Pro Research survey, 80 percent of organizations had adopted some degree of cloud computing, and that was in 2015. At that time, only 20-27 percent of companies indicated they had no plans to utilize cloud technology. Since then, adoption has only gained momentum.
In October 2020, Verified Market Research projected the cloud computing market will be worth nearly $720 billion by 2027. According to Statista, Amazon Web Services leads the $130 billion market of providers of cloud infrastructure. Amazon occupies 32 percent of the market share, followed by Azure at 20 percent, and Google Cloud at nine percent.
Migration To The Cloud
An essential aspect of cloud migration is understanding the shift it represents and the questions organizations must answer to identify the best migration plan. One of the tenets of cloud migration is that it moves an organization away from a traditional data center structure with hardware and deployment of application code on top of virtual machines. Instead, the cloud infrastructure is not owned by the organization and is accessed in on-demand, self-service format known infrastructure as code (IaC). As such, companies need to have a toolkit that includes technologies that allow for provision and management in cloud IaC.
Across all industries, as CTOs and CIOs evaluate cloud technologies for their organizations, typically toward Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), they consider the myriad of steps needed to reach readiness and pivoting as technologies and needs evolve. C-suite leaders are faced with choosing architecture patterns or pieces of patterns (e.g., storage from provider, compute from provider, database from provider); too often these decisions are made without the benefit of prior experience.
Cloud Implementation Toolkit
A cloud implementation toolkit contains a suite of best practices, case studies, reference architectures, guidelines, accelerators, templates, and benchmarking tools that can guide organizations along the migration journey. The toolkit provides lessons from past migrations including what went well and what presented stumbling blocks. With this information available organizations better navigate the process as they transition to the cloud. Here are the best practice components of a toolkit.
- Solid business case. Cloud migration begins with understanding the goals of migration. To be successful, an organization must have a solid business case for migration with specific and measurable objectives (e.g., cost efficiency, telematics, machine learning, natural language processing). The toolkit offers a business case template for defining and quantifying objectives. Within this initial phase, another tool is the total cost of ownership (TCO) estimator, which calculates the total cost of ownership including monthly bills and maintenance costs based on the number and complexity of migrating apps.
- Evaluation of the size of the data center and current apps. The length of this planning phase is dictated by the size, number, and complexity of information and technology in use. Data centers in large or established organizations may have evolved several apps and databases over time, sometimes without the direct knowledge of administrators. An on-premises discovery tool is used to calculate the number of apps or databases within a data center.
- Migration pattern classifier. Once all apps and databases are identified in the planning phase, the migration pattern classifier guides 6R decision making (see infographic below) in which to rehost, retain. Assets are bucketed into one of the Rs and determined whether they are migrating and in which pattern. Within that evaluation, a value proposition tool quantifies the complexity and business value of apps. Apps are ranked across four quadrants from high to low complexity and high to low value. Apps with low complexity and high business value are migrated first to provide quick wins for an organization.
The Cloud Implementation Toolkit
- The piloting phase. This phase begins to lay the groundwork for migration and utilizes a cloud foundation kit or landing zone. The purpose here is to establish the networking between an organization’s data center and the cloud platform. This proof-of-concept phase migrates a high-value, moderate complexity application and using a highly successful patterned reference architecture that has been used with similar programs. The piloting phase can serve as a learning tool and not be immediately followed with full migration.
- The pilot assessment stage. The pilot is monitored and evaluated using a 64-question online survey for personnel involved in the pilot migration. The questionnaire compares the business case, chosen apps categories, patterns and asks if the organization is ready to migrate at scale. This may seem oddly timed, however, those actively involved in migration are more knowledgeable about the migration process at this juncture and can review and act on results. The miniature migration offers insights into migration patterns, including staff who require further training, or adjustments to migration strategy. Results are intended to highlight success areas, areas to focus on, and skillsets that may be missing amongst the team.
- Resource onboarding. It is here that reskilling workers dovetails with resource onboarding, which seeks to build a team for migration by broadening skillsets. A matrix composition tool highlights the skills that are needed and how many roles are to be filled, as well as when to onboard and offboard. Rather than add staff, however, team members are encouraged to develop secondary skillsets through lunch and learns or workshops as part of the onboarding and training kit.
Additional Toolkit Components
Migration is guided by IaC templates or reusable code that can provision infrastructure for migration, followed by accelerators to automate validation of migration. Benchmarking templates are then used to ensure that migration has improved and not degraded performance compared to pre-migration speed.
The final phase, operational excellence, includes a monitoring toolkit to manage apps within the cloud, a cost control kit to monitor and maintain efficiency, and an incident response plan designed to guide mitigation in the aftermath of a security breach or other event.
Simplifying A Complex Journey
For any use case, there are multiple services to choose from. For example, when creating a database in the cloud, an organization can deploy software, use Amazon RDS, or use a service like Amazon Aurora. The workload on the database, the maturity of the operations team managing the database, and the degree of automatically managed services will determine which pattern is the best. The toolkit can enable organizations to wade through the complexities of defining a migration plan and pattern and move forward through the phases of cloud migration.
Cloud migration is less of a destination than a journey that is continually monitored and improved along the way. CIOs, CTOs, and their teams are more likely to reach success with a roadmap to guide the move to migration. A cloud migration toolkit, built upon experience, can not only provide steps to follow but also synthesize strategies and highlight possible weak points to ensure the road to success is as smooth as possible.
About The Author
Kumarasenthil Muthuvel is a leader in information technology with a proven track record of partnering with multi-national organizations to modernize their infrastructure for efficiency and ROI. He has a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering and has 15 years’ experience in cloud services, programming, database management, distributed processing, middleware, infrastructure as code technologies and practices. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources And Research
- Statista, “Amazon Leads $130-Billion Cloud Market.” © 2021
- Google Cloud blog, “Key considerations for building a migration factory to Google Cloud.” © 2020
- New Relic blog, “Preparing to Adopt the Cloud: A 10-Step Cloud Migration Checklist.” © 2018
- AWS. “6 Strategies for Migrating Applications to the Cloud.” © 2016
- Verified Market Research (press release; Cloud Computing Market report), “Cloud Computing Market Worth $ 718.07 Billion, Globally, by 2027 at 13.9% CAGR.” © 2020
- ZDNet, “Research: 80 percent using or considering industry cloud services.” © 2015