Migrating on-premises applications and data to the cloud is never an easy process. There are many factors to consider, including the performance of apps in a new environment, latency/bandwidth constraints and the day-to-day management of your cloud environment once it's moved to a third party.
But some cloud providers and technology companies are developing tools to alleviate some of the more difficult cloud migration tasks. Today, we're going to look at what the tools can and cannot do, so you can gauge the amount of effort it might take to move your workflows to a cloud service provider.
Asset and workload discovery
Companies such as Microsoft and ScienceLogic offer platforms that assist in the automated discovery of on-premises and baselining of servers, storage and data flow patterns. These tools monitor your internal environment and show utilization levels of processing power, memory and disk usage and individual hypervisor OS performance levels. Once these measurements are taken, the tools then calculate the purchase equivalent/cloud equivalent so you can better choose the proper cloud instance size. This is great because the tools can help you calculate the eventual service cost once the migration to a public cloud is complete.
One downside, however, is that the tools may only be able to show pricing for a handful of the most popular cloud providers. Such is the case for migration tools from companies such as Microsoft and Amazon, they are only useful if you are planning to migrate to their respective cloud platforms.
Lift and shift or rebuild?
Another benefit that can be found using cloud migration assistance tools is in evaluating whether it might be better to simply forklift an application to a public cloud -- or whether to revise or rebuild it. Prior to automated tools, IT administrators had to make a best guess as to whether an application would function properly within a public cloud. That led to a great amount of stress and the possibility of wasted time and money if managers made the incorrect decision. Now, the research into whether an app or workload would function properly on its own -- or if your better of re-making the app to be cloud native -- is done for you. But ultimately the final decision still resides on the administrator. And in situations where the decision to lift and shift vs. rebuild is a coin toss, this can still be a hair pulling decision to grapple with.
Bulk VM moves
One of the biggest migration challenges is in how to replicate your on-premise environment to the cloud with the least amount of effort. Many early adopters spent countless hours simply replicating their data center architecture in the cloud. Now, tools such as Microsoft's newly announced Azure Site Recovery will help move already-existing virtual machines from your private data center to the Azure cloud. The suite of tools will automate the bulk of virtual machine migration steps required to move from one computing environment to another. This greatly eases the amount of time and effort taken when migrating apps either permanently – or temporarily -- in a disaster recovery situation. You do have to keep in mind, however, that support for these types of tools is limited. Therefore, you need to make sure that your current deployment is fully supported prior to using these types of automated migration tools.
Considering the number of cloud migration tools currently available compared to just a few years ago, it’s safe to say that automation and orchestration are having a major impact on easing the burden of moving to the cloud. Yet, it’s important to note that these types of tools are still limited in what they can do – and what environments they can operate in. So, while they can indeed assist in some migration tasks, the tools are still far from being that magic wand that will effortlessly transport your apps and data from point A to point B.