Is Traditional IT ready for the Cloud?

Businesses are after consumerisation and the delivery of IT in new ways. Traditional IT is no longer fulfilling business needs and should not be moved to the cloud in its current state. Stop the lift and shift mentality, think outside the box and be innovative for each of your opportunities. How can you transform traditional IT to something more productive and valuable?

Recent conversations with many people within the ANZ IT community has started me thinking more about, are we really ready for the journey to the cloud? I see and hear about failed, painful and mismanaged migrations to the cloud on a daily basis, with little to no change to what is being migrated into the cloud.

I have been involved in many cloud migrations in my days and it still surprises me that the most used approach to transition into the cloud is a lift and shift mentality. Lifting and shifting is a process where by you shutdown the virtual machines/infrastructure on the customer premise, transfer them to a portable storage device or NAS, ship it to the cloud provider, import the virtual machines and power it all on (this process may have additional steps to migrate to a compatible hypervisor/platform). I have also seen an uptake in the use of tools such as vCloud Connector for migrations, and the use of various replication products like Veeam Backup & Replication and Zerto to replicate the machines into the cloud provider and reduce the down time.

When migrating your entire infrastructure in the above methods, are you relocating your pain to another platform? If you are already virtualised (most of us are) then moving any existing workloads will inherently take most of the existing pain with them. Relocating the pain becomes inherently harder to manage as the business no longer has visibility of the whole stack. Consider what the impact is of moving a workload into a platform not designed for it?

Focusing on the query at hand, are we ready for the journey to the cloud? Consider some of the following questions to help you determine some simple outcomes;

  • What am I hoping to achieve with this journey?
    • Cost Reduction
    • More efficient IT operations
  • What are the pain points within my IT environment currently?
    • Backups are time consuming and often do not work
    • No scalability
    • No agility
    • Time consuming with operational overheads
  • What are the cost implications/savings of this project/journey?
    • Cost to maintain equipment internally is rising
    • Hardware is End of Life
    • Legacy software is expensive to maintain

Having answered some basic questions to determine why we are going on the journey, it is now time to review what you are doing. My advise during cloud migrations to service providers and customers that are considering cloud technology is to do a thorough review of your environment prior to migration. A software audit will show potential EoL (end of life) environments they may be better off replaced or upgraded. Moving an EoL environment to the cloud will generally prolong the life cycle rather than decrease the life cycle. Once the environment is moved from internal infrastructure it is less cumbersome to maintain but often may add increased risk to the business.

Some examples of an EoL environment would be a virtual machine running an older version of the Windows operating system, this can generally be upgraded to a new more stable platform with the use of capability mode if required to support legacy applications. If you need to use compatibility mode, it would be a good idea to review what potential options you have to replace the application as well.

Now that we have identified applications suitable for replacement and key services that we need to keep in house or on a cloud platform, we need to determine the best solution/s to deliver these. IaaS based offerings are the perfect fit for the remaining services that are not yet ready for the cloud era, opening up the door for other ‘as a Service’ based offerings to solve other traditional IT needs.

Utilising ‘as a Service’ based offerings will help you transform traditional IT into consumer based model, allowing you to pay for what you need reducing CapEx and also introduce new innovations into the business allowing IT to be more reactive with scalability and agility often inherited from cloud services.

Undertaking the journey to the cloud should not be daunting, embraced properly this journey can wield cost savings, efficiencies and stability into many business’s. Customers and Service Providers alike need to move away from migrating traditional IT and force innovation, transform traditional IT into a platform that will support the business going forward, and remember one size does not fit all!

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