Public Cloud Migration: Where to Start

Arthur Nichols

Much of the hype surrounding cloud computing seems to imply an immediate, one-size-fits-all invitation. It is, after all, a scalable service designed to meet the needs of any business as they may arise. However, migrating business to the cloud, especially the public variety, can necessitate complicated, careful planning.

The magnitude of repercussions from failure to properly strategize cloud migration varies significantly over different industries, scales of business, and even elements within a business. Fortunately, “divide and conquer” is a viable approach to the cloud. While there may be no choice but to accept that the move is going to happen, knowing the best place to start can be a sizable advantage.

Assess the Current Architecture

The first step in migrating to a public cloud is to fully understand your existing architecture. This is the only way to know what cloud options will be most useful to you. Your potential cloud configuration may encompass broad sections of your architecture or it may take advantage of cloud services designed to meet specific needs and address specific problems.

Like it or not, some organizations will have an easier time of utilizing public cloud services. Some deal primarily with data of a more sensitive nature and will likely run into compliance problems when looking at public cloud options. Others deal with less exploitable information. Some also have less complex and dated systems than others. The best strategy is to target the least critical section of the business’ processes and data for migration to the cloud.

Start Small, Start Safe

A move to public cloud resources does not have to happen all at once and in fact, it shouldn’t. Though the potential gain of a small move may be less significant, it will have less risk of costly failure. The allure of the cloud may be strong, but the pie will be waiting whenever you may find yourself ready to take a bigger slice. Also, the more broad and complex your cloud infrastructure becomes, the more energy will have to be focused on cloud management.

Cloud security has been mulled over frequently in 2012. While the security of public clouds is relatively untested, it is too early to label them as too vulnerable or perfectly safe. A lack of incident does not guarantee safety and accessibility does not guarantee vulnerability. Still, the parts of business that have less compliance restrictions will be less difficult to move to a public cloud, so this will make for a better initial candidate.

Elements of business that are more critical to the overall operation do not make good initial candidates for public cloud migration. Even the best laid plans can end up going out the window once things get rolling. The cost of interrupting critical operations is probably not worth the risk and experience may help develop a migration plan that has better certainty.

Expect Problems and Learn from Mistakes

Public cloud migration projects are bound to run into problems, especially in the adolescence of the cloud. Though the future may be brighter in this respect, one size doesn’t yet fit all in the cloud. Adapting existing systems will have some complications even for small projects. The bumps in the road will have costs, but the experience will help navigate future projects into the cloud if you can learn from them. At this point, between varying types of industry and data, everyone will have to do a bit of their own trial and error to build a good road map to success.

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