Migrating to the Cloud: Your Roadmap to Success

By Don Landrum, Executive Vice President, Denovo

After participating in hundreds of engagements, I can tell you with confidence that moving to the cloud is one of the smartest moves our clients ever decide to make. A good example is the work we did recently at one of the world’s leading real estate investment companies, where we helped their business migrate from an aging on-prem data center to a 100% cloud-based platform.

The company’s head of infrastructure was delighted with the results and was kind enough to share some of the key lessons he learned during their transition, including crucial questions any company should ask when looking at a move to the cloud. Here’s what he had to say:

1. Assess your business risk

Moving from on-prem to the cloud should always be a business decision, not a technology decision. (Granted, though, there are real IT benefits you should consider.) So, start your cloud project by examining all your potential business risks. For example, if you have international operations, get to know the data laws and privacy laws in those countries and their impact on where you host your customer and business information. This can factor into your choice of a cloud provider.

2. Should you hire a partner?

Before you start your cloud journey, ask yourself if you’re going to manage the move with your own staff or leverage a partner? Based on experience, my recommendation is unequivocal: You absolutely want to partner. Moving your data center to the cloud is a massive undertaking regardless of how big or experienced your staff is, and you really want someone by your side who has done this before.

3. Review your current IT operation

Before making a move, take an inventory of your existing IT environment. That includes the age of your hardware and where it’s located. Add up the server loads and applications you plan to move to the cloud. We needed to migrate more than 100 servers, dozens of business applications, and nearly 100 terabytes of data at our company. That’s a lot of “baggage” to pack!

4. Size up your staff

Ask yourself if you have a big enough staff to handle the move to the cloud and still run an on-premise operation if you decide to do a hybrid model. Do your employees have enough cloud experience? And what about your networking team: Can they take on integrating a cloud operation into your network?

5. Understand your costs

Cost models for a cloud operation are very different than on-premise. In the on-prem world, your hardware is a sunk cost. But in the cloud, you have recurring, monthly costs. It’s a different mindset and a different model.

In a cloud operation, your recurring costs can vary widely depending on your usage. So, you need to figure out how much storage you’ll need and how many CPUs? What are your disaster recovery requirements? And don’t forget your egress costs if you move a lot of data around.

6. Check your licensing

You need to think about the software licensing ramifications of your cloud migration. Some will charge you CPU per hour, others a flat fee, but know that upfront and make it a part of your decision-making. If you don’t, you’ll end up with costs you weren’t expecting. And that’s a bad spot to be in.

7. Redeploy your people

Moving to the cloud is not about getting rid of your people. It’s about reallocating them. In fact, your move is a good opportunity for your teams to retool their skills and become experts at supporting your new cloud platform.

8. Plan your move

You’ll need to decide what workloads you’re going to move and when. Which applications are you going to move, and does your provider have experience with those applications? Consider a phased approach: For example, you might start with your disaster recovery workloads, then move to development, and finally to production.

9. Stay secure

Before you move, look at your current security posture. Do you have any specific needs that preclude you from moving to the cloud? You might find that moving to a cloud provider could strengthen your security situation. For example, at our company, we had some old firewalls that needed to be upgraded but realized we could use our cloud provider to enhance our security posture.

10. Optimize along the way

Your migration is an opportunity to optimize. This is when you can make sure that every server you have is being used to its fullest potential – and to retire machines and apps that have outlived their usefulness. We started with more than 100 servers at our company that needed to be “moved across,” and by the time we were finished, that number was closer to 80.

In some cases, your provider may have better tools than you have today – like faster disks or CPUs that you can take advantage of. Work with your partner to ensure you’re making the most of what your provider has to offer.

11. Choose the right provider and partner

We decided to move our systems to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) mainly because the biggest app in our data center was Oracle’s JD Edwards platform. That was also a big factor in choosing our partner, Denovo, because they were experts in both OCI and JD Edwards. That means when it comes to troubleshooting (to use one of my favorite IT colloquialisms), there’s “one throat to choke.”

12. Parallel or forklift implementation?

Working with our partner Denovo, we decided to build out a parallel infrastructure that gave us access to both the cloud and our old on-prem environment during the transition. So, when it came time to switch over, it was just a simple DNS change for many users. Most of them just logged in one morning, and all they saw was they had a new version of the software. That’s a cool feeling! Plus, with a parallel implementation, if anything went wrong, we could always rollback.

13. Learn from your partner

Over the years, I’ve discovered that I don’t really want to know what’s been successful at other companies. I want to know what has not been successful. And this is where I’ve learned the most from our partners. It’s when they tell us, “Well, we’ve tried it that way, and here’s what you haven’t thought about that might end up failing for you.”

Partners can become an extension of your team. With our partner Denovo, when we have an issue, I just put in a ticket, and I know someone will take care of the issue, not just my own staff. And that helps me sleep at night. Bottom line: Pick a good partner and listen to their advice – they’ve done this before.

To learn how the right partner can ease your move to the cloud, reach out to Denovo today!