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The pros & cons of DIY Cloud Migration

The new era of cloud computing makes it easy to get new instances up.  But does that means you should handle the migration yourself?  In this blog, originally from our colleagues at Oriel, we examine the process of DIY migration.

Think of painting your house. You probably have a ladder, and buying paint, brushes and furniture covers isn't that hard. But just like migrating to the cloud, there are nuances and tips you don't know, and correcting it later might end up costing more than it would have to just call in an expert to begin with.

Of course, that's not to say those tricks aren't out there to find if you talk to the right person, so step one in any cloud migration is to learn all you can. Talk to a cloud service/management provider first, even if you do decide to go it alone. It's guaranteed you'll learn about aspects you hadn't thought of and the tips to deal with them (there are so many scary variables, in fact, many organisations talk to the right provider and instead decide to engage them for the project anyway).

What most cloud services don't tell you is that while it's easy to provision a server or install an operating system, the challenge is in moving your information to a new environment with all dependencies accounted for and covered. Everything from making sure the right data is accessible to the right people to back-up regimes has to be thought out.

And of those organisations who opt to perform their own cloud migrations, it seems most are doing a haphazard job at best. An infographic by AWS monitor provider Cloudcheckr reported that 98 per cent of self-service cloud users had issues maintaining uptime, 91 per cent didn't back up their cloud computing instances often enough, and 44 per cent hosted data that was left vulnerable to an attack or outage.

Move or start over?

Perhaps the first question to ask yourself is whether you're migrating or building. At first glance the answer might seem obvious – if you have established systems or processes hosted on-premise and you want them moved to the cloud, you're migrating, correct? 

Take a step back. Moving to the cloud and performing all the associated checks and tests to make sure everything works can be complicated and fiddly. You might be applying patches, deploying new builds, bug testing and going back to the drawing board so much it would have been quicker and cheaper to build out a completely new cloud infrastructure with raw data. Migration might not be the answer.

If you go through the process and decide migration is the way forward, the list of things you'll have to account for when moving between your outgoing and incoming infrastructures can seem endless. Just some are;Operating System – If you're not going like-to-like and other OS versions of your solution aren't available, it might mean complete application redevelopment.

  • Scale vector – How much will your data change and grow, and what kind of environment do you need to migrate into to handle it? Will there be a big spike and if so, do you have instant access to a hundred times the space or processing power, resources you don't want to be paying to maintain during normal trading?
  • Security requirements – Will the new environment have appropriate security protocols? Does incoming file scanning adhere to the standards you've promised your own customers? Might the cloud provider host your data in another country or legal jurisdiction without you knowing, contravening laws about data retention in your industry?

A trade off

Even if you're completely confident you can do it yourself, should you? Any IT project – including a cloud migration – will take money and time away from your staff and other projects. If a huge new business opportunity comes along that means your IT department has to build an application quickly, do you want them tied up in a migration, spending money you might be directly attributing to a tangible profit? 

Arm yourself beforehand by sketching out the whole project. You might have little to no problems migrating your own systems (increasingly unlikely as IT grows more complex), but when you know how long it will take and how much it will cost, is it worth it? Outsourcing to a managed service provider might still save you money.

In the end, remember that we live in an era of sticking to core competencies. Your business sells mortgages, plumbing services or maybe stuffed toys online – your directors and board don't want to rebrand as a successful cloud migration company.

Even if you're an IT manager at a giant conglomerate with a well resourced in house IT department, each cloud deployment has quirks, limitations and undocumented features you're unlikely to know in their entirety. Talk to providers, get advice, understand the field, plan, check your plans, show a migration consultant or provider for their thoughts, and be prepared to dive deep. If you embark on a DIY cloud migration, you need to be aware of the traps.

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This was originally posted by our colleagues at Oriel.

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Topics: Cloud Computing, IT Manager, Migration