Cloud environments allow you take advantage of emerging technologies and foster agility, but benefits and features vary greatly among providers. You may choose a cloud service and use it for some time, only to realize that your business demands are not aligned with that environment. Cloud-to-cloud migrations are often necessary to maximize your operations—but contrary to popular belief, these migrations don’t have to burden your business or cause disruptions.
Cloud-to-cloud Migration: The Method Matters
There is no one right way to move your applications and workloads. The specifics of your project depend on the complexity of your migration and time constraints, as well as your unique circumstances. You’ll want to look at your entire infrastructure and segment it into business units or business functions versus moving your systems all at once. Although third-party tools facilitate the process, there are components that require manual labor. You’ll want to consider:
- What is your tolerance for downtime? Individual workloads or applications should be migrated one by one to reduce the risk of unexpected downtime and reduce the duration of migration. Automation tools help with this process.
- How much data needs to be moved and in what way?
- Who is responsible for data extraction?
- Does the cloud provider require that your data be in a certain format?
- What is your budget?
- What is your timeline?
What you discover with these questions will help you prioritize your requirements and determine the order in which you’ll migrate your assets. You’ll also need to determine which method(s) to use. Here are common options:
- You can save a full back up copy to a device and physically ship it to your new provider, which is ideal when you have large amounts of data and can tolerate some downtime.
- Another option is a live failover. You will need to use a migration provider to precede data and provide a brief cutover. Due to the complexity and cost of this method, it’s usually reserved for Tier 1 applications, such as a CRM.
- The last method is migration over the wire (over the Internet) on a dedicated network link.
Regardless of which method you choose, be sure you recent backup copy of your data and perform testing prior to taking the leap.
Avoiding Cloud Portability Issues: What is Vendor Lock-in?
Many organizations don’t realize technologies (protocols, tools, standards, and cloud APIs) are not uniform across platforms. As a result, cloud portability, which is moving applications and data from one cloud environment to another—with little to no interruption—has become an issue in cloud migration. While companies consider the costs of the initial migration, they often forget about the expenses associated with leaving one platform for another. While you may have good reasons for switching cloud providers, vendor lock-in can make it difficult and cost-prohibitive to move. However, there are ways you can reduce the risks associated with vendor lock-in.
How to Facilitate Cloud Portability
Plan for Multi-Cloud Adoption
Multi-cloud adoption occurs naturally as developers use whichever cloud environment makes the most sense for a particular project or workload. While multi-cloud use has its benefits—such as disaster recovery, development lifecycle support, and cloud bursting—configurations do not automatically support portability. As mentioned before, each cloud provider will have its own unique set of standards.
Careful Vendor Selection
Search for vendors that support portability, interoperability, and standard DevOps standards. One example of standardization is the Cloud Data Management Interface by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA). Universally-accepted standards for platform-to-platform interfaces include standard data structures, cloud APIs, and HTTP operations. If cloud portability is your goal, you must choose cloud-computing vendors that embrace “cloud neutral” technologies like open-source application-platform interface standards that are readily available across providers.
Cloud portability and interoperability is also dependent on the maturity of certain cloud services. For instance, block storage services are more portable than data repositories such as MYSQL.
However, Expedia VP of Technology Subbu Allamaraju notes, “The value … is in the platform aspects and not the basic primitives. [Cloud] Abstractions to prevent lock-in introduce operational complexity and limit you to common denominator primitives like virtual machines.”
In short, your portability goals may be secondary to what your team is trying to accomplish, so developing a comprehensive cloud strategy is critical.
Although it may seems obvious, be sure you know what you’re signing. One law firm recommends that you look for providers that offer migration assistance, “including the provision of hosting services for a set period following termination or expiration of the services agreement, and assistance to facilitate the migration of applications in-house or to a new provider.”
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This article was first published on OnRamp.
Nathan has a broad spectrum of IT experience with a focus on compliance and security in both the federal and private sectors. Nathan’s role within Onramp is to be a technical resource for both new customers and existing channel partners, bridging the gap between customer needs and OnRamp’s ability to meet those needs.