MSP Playbook: Five Steps for Cloud Migration Success
It’s no secret the cloud is here to stay. Gartner estimates that by 2015, end-user spending on cloud services could exceed $180 billion. Companies, or employees within those firms, have started to explore this new utility model and are either thinking about moving to the cloud, are in process, or are already there.
However, 2014 is going to be a unique year. Cisco’s Global Cloud Index found that this will be the first year that the majority of workloads will be in the cloud (51%) versus 49% in the traditional IT space.
This tipping point is significant as cloud computing moves beyond early adopters and into the mainstream. The challenge is, most IT professionals don’t have the expertise to make the transition a smooth one.
The biggest issue for organizations moving to the cloud is fear of the unknown. CIOs understand the potential benefits, yet there are real-world hurdles to overcome – not the least of which involve fear of losing control. Some of the most common questions include:
- How should instances be sized when migrating applications to the cloud?
- What steps are required to actually deploy to the cloud?
- How will performance and availability be measured and monitored?
- Will the shift save money or ultimately cost more?
- How can we make sure the deployment is right-sized over time?
- What are techniques to drive costs out of the system?
For many IT professionals, the cloud is uncharted territory, leaving them looking for serious help.
Role of MSPs
Despite these questions, many businesses still think it may be more efficient and cost-effective to find and use their own-cloud based applications, making it more difficult for MSPs to retain and grow their client base. To remain competitive, MSPs must find ways to differentiate their services and win more customers.
Helping clients accelerate their cloud migrations is one of the first steps. In the process, demonstrating that the cloud utility model isn’t a black box -- and in fact provides significant performance and cost improvements – can increase client confidence. As customer, application and server counts grow, MSPs need end-to-end monitoring tools that help customers understand how their applications are performing and constantly being tuned to maximize their cloud investment.
Five Steps for Cloud Migration Success
The complexity of migrating applications to the cloud can vary greatly. The following five steps focus on the process of assessing the infrastructure, mapping to the appropriate cloud instances, ensuring effective ongoing monitoring and keeping the new deployment right-sized to minimize cost and maximize performance.
- Discover: The first step in the cloud migration process is to discover current systems in use leveraging an existing configuration management and orchestration solution. These solutions often provide cookbooks that tie into tools like Chef and Puppet, and allow you to capture data necessary to complete the cloud sizing assessment.
- Size: In order to right-size your cloud, you need to know the actual usage of your application workloads to predict which (and how many) instance types are required. A cloud-sizing tool can automatically generate these reports for you and indicate which instances best match the existing application environment.
- Migrate: This step is often a process in and of itself. Most firms today offer complete migration services from simple lift and shift to full blown re-architecting of applications to take advantage of next generation cloud architectures. Amazon publishes a number of free resources and has created a recommended process for application migration.
- Monitor: With your applications migrated to the cloud, the next step is to set up the appropriate monitors, alerts and dashboards to ensure everything is performing up to expectations. Gaining deeper visibility into servers, sites and applications allows you to create personalized read-only views for individual customers so they can always check the health of their deployment.
- Optimize: The process doesn’t stop once customers are up and running. As demands on applications increase, as the cloud provider enhances their offerings, and as environments continue to evolve, it is critical to right-size deployments. You’ll want to track and validate that the right instance types are in use, and the cost delta between on-demand and reserved instances. With that information in hand, deployments can be right-sized and the changes easily communicated back to the customer.
As more businesses move their infrastructure to hosted environments, monitoring and managing IT assets on location—traditionally the key to the MSP business model—will become less important. MSPs that provide end-to-end cloud monitoring services will realize tremendous business development opportunities as a trusted advisor to clients.
Chad Bockius is CEO of CopperEgg, a provider of end-to-end cloud performance monitoring solutions for public and private clouds. A serial entrepreneur, Chad founded his first company in college and has held senior executive-level positions at companies including Socialware, Bazaarvoice, BetweenMarkets and Trilogy.