Using cloud services means obtaining rid of a significant part of your own IT infrastructure, reducing the cost of its administration and maintenance, flexibility and the ability to cope with peak loads. Today, cloud solutions in demand by the market are being promoted by a large number of vendors: it is believed that cloud technologies are the future.
You can find many cases demonstrating the gainful migration of an IT infrastructure to a provider's cloud. Companies use the cloud as an additional platform for non-critical services, as a software improvement and checking environment (PaaS), or completely relocation their IT infrastructure to the cloud (according to the IaaS model).
Cloud usage scenarios are becoming more complicated, organizations are increasingly migrating critical systems and services to them. Organizations with seasonal bursts of activity, or those who expect rapid growth in the customer base, often move to the cloud platform. This helps them cope with peak loads and scale the resources they use.
As well, geographically distributed companies (for example, large retail chains) with their own data centers migrate to the clouds, large organizations that find it difficult to manage their expanded IT park, or companies in the SMB segment, where there are not enough resources to purchase and maintain servers and storage systems. And for start-up organizations and new lines of business, the rental of IT facilities allows you to quickly start.
Large public cloud service providers - Microsoft Azure, Amazon, Oracle and others - are responsible for the maintenance and operation of the service, for its reliability, security, availability, scalability, data protection and safety, etc. These services can be very profitable and attractive in terms of price, since large providers have the opportunity to use their own innovations and receive special conditions from equipment vendors, besides, the "scale effect" works.
Business in the clouds
According to Flexera's Rightscale 2021 State of the Cloud Report from Flexera, 94% of respondents are already applying some form of cloud solution, and companies' cloud spending continues to rise rapidly. Their projected public cloud spending in 2021 is 24% higher than in 2018. On average, 38% of respondents' workload is in public clouds, while 41% is in private clouds. In small and medium-sized businesses, the proportion is different: 43% are public clouds, 35% are private.
IT departments in companies and enterprises focus on managing cloud resources and optimizing cloud spending. 66% of enterprises already have a dedicated cloud team or a center of excellence. 21% of organizations plan to organize it. IT departments prioritize cost optimization and smart cloud resource management (68%), reasoning and making decisions about which applications to use in which cloud environments (62%), thinking and setting policies for cloud applications (59%) .
According to Oracle's forecast, in the next ten years up to 80% of business applications will be transferred to the clouds, almost all corporate data will migrate there, and all application development and testing will be performed in the cloud environment.
How to get into the cloud?
Businesses are moving workloads to the cloud for a variety of reasons, whether it's to eliminate data centers, migrate legacy workloads, or build and run high performance applications in a more flexible environment. Running traditional and cloud-native workload applications in the cloud requires consistently high performance and reliability across the entire stack.
For many organizations that do not yet use the possibilities of cloud innovations, the most important issue is "migration to the clouds" - preparation for the relocation of the company's IT infrastructure to the virtual space in order to improve the quality of services and reduce operating costs. What steps are required for this? Migration includes developing a plan, deploying infrastructure in the cloud, migrating data, checking infrastructure, and launching services.
1. Choosing a cloud provider
Migration to the cloud involves moving data, settings, services and applications from the local site of a company or organization to a virtual data center of a cloud provider. This migration usually takes several days. A serious task is the choice of a service provider - a cloud provider that meets all the requirements of the migration project.
2. Inventory of IT infrastructure
If this choice is made, then you should start with a thorough inventory of your infrastructure, including physical network and IT equipment, software and services. Often this not only facilitates migration, but as well allows you to optimize the IT infrastructure, put it in order, redistribute processes and workloads, without which it will be extremely difficult to make a successful "move" to the cloud. It will allow you to get a clear picture of the existing IT infrastructure, understand how the components interact with each other, and so on. This will facilitate the migration process and simplify checking of services transferred to the cloud.
3. List for moving
If many modern business applications are initially designed to work in the cloud infrastructure, then everything is not easy with legacy software. Such systems may need to be reengineered and quality audited. It is necessary to draw up a detailed list of services transferred to the clouds, the information systems associated with them, and the computing, network and storage resources required for them. In short, we need an accurate list of all things that needs to move to the cloud.
To do this, you need to understand what process is needed and what it is for, how many resources it consumes, what are the security requirements, after which you can determine what exactly should be transferred to the cloud.
When deciding to use the cloud, organizations often ask themselves how secure it is to transfer corporate data to the cloud. Although modern cloud services are characterized by a fairly high level of security, you should not "bring" all things to the cloud, this can be fraught with serious business risks.
If the customer himself cannot perform such work, then providers often offer their services for the initial audit of information systems. This audit allows not only to better plan the relocation of services to the cloud platform, but also to identify current shortcomings and problems in the existing IT landscape and eliminate them.
4. Choice of migration tools
Next, you need to decide on the migration tools. Having a virtualized environment simplifies things - migrating virtual servers is fairly straightforward. To "convert" physical servers into virtual machines, there are special P2V tools, although there are "pitfalls" here as well. Companies often remain concerned about security, the scale and complexity of the task, uncertain migration paths, disparate toolkits, and lack of experience.
Meanwhile, vendors are constantly working to expand the ability to migrate applications and databases between the client's data center and the cloud, trying to ensure the coexistence of cloud and local applications / data and their migration between the customer's site and the cloud "with one click". For example, at Oracle, the load can already be easily transferred between the customer's site and the cloud.
The VMware vCloud Extender tool allows you to consolidate clouds and move VMs to the cloud applying an intuitive graphical interface. To convert a physical server into a virtual machine and transfer it to the provider's cloud, you can use the VMware vCenter Converter utility. In this case, the main server continues to work. Another option is to create images of physical disks, convert them to virtual disk format and transfer them to the provider's cloud, to a virtual environment. Another natural move method is to back up and restore to a new site.
5. Ensuring network connectivity
A separate issue is the provision of network interaction between the client's IT infrastructure and the provider's cloud platform, that is, network connectivity. It is solved by the joint efforts of the provider and the customer. Communication channels must guarantee user access to the cloud. This may require taking into account the routing, addressing, bandwidth and reliability of communication channels, as well as information security (for example, the need for a VPN), horizontal (increase in the number of VMs) and vertical (increase in the capacity of a particular VM) cloud scalability.
6. Drawing up a detailed migration plan
The migration plan will contain details about the services transferred to the cloud at all stages with the possibility of checking each stage. It reflects what exactly will be transferred to the cloud, in what sequence, in what time frame. The success of subsequent processes and stages depends on this. The migration plan lists critical and important services, taking into account the priority of their relocation. In most cases, migration is possible without stopping the service.
In the migration plan, you need to determine the RTO (downtime) and RPO (value of data loss) and how to minimize them. It is better to update and modify applications before the migration, otherwise it will be difficult to identify the source of problems. Application dependency maps will help you work out the mechanisms for correct transfer to the cloud. A clear migration plan as well prescribes data migration procedures.
7. Test migration
Migration is a step-by-step process, and it is better to start it with a test migration. Ask your chosen provider for test access to the cloud and work out the migration procedures on simple services.
Gradual and phased approach allows you to quickly identify and eliminate problems that arise in the process of relocation. Transferring all things at once is not only inconvenient, but as well extremely risky. Gradual or partial migration is the preferred option for an organization with a distributed infrastructure.
Before you start a test migration, it's a good idea to determine the health and availability requirements for your cloud service.
When carrying out a migration project, you should check all the steps performed as much as possible. Identifying mistakes early on will help you achieve the desired results and save time.
In a large-scale IT infrastructure, it is better to isolate the most critical elements and migrate during the period when they are least used.
When migrating services, you can create a copy of the service in the cloud, on the provider's side, synchronize it with the local service, verify that the cloud service is working correctly, and decommission the local service.
In some cases, there are special requirements for the security of network communications between the client's office and the cloud service, and their verification for potential vulnerabilities. In such a situation, it makes sense to contact a service provider with the appropriate competence. Experts will advise the best solutions, including a wide range of data protection services.
If you act according to the plan and pay due attention to important details, you will be able to get the expected result. Experts will help you find and apply the best industry practices, avoid costly mistakes and downtime.
Scenarios and Implementations
Possible scenarios include moving a particular business application entirely to the cloud, migrating individual functions, deploying new services, or interoperating between on-premise and cloud services. This can be done using public, private or hybrid clouds, or multi-cloud environments that are gaining popularity. Variants of implementation and billing of cloud structures, their composition and functionality are different.
Cloud providers, system integrators who own their own virtualized data centers, offer services to provide a secure and productive IT infrastructure deployed in their cloud. If necessary, the customer can get at his disposal a dedicated and fully operational virtual data center (VDC).
Depending on the needs and business tasks of the customer, such a data center includes computing resources (virtual processors, virtual RAM), information storage resources (virtual disk space with declared performance), network infrastructure, a control and monitoring system, as well as various other software. : operating system, DBMS, applications, specialized products for big data analysis, virtual routers, self-management tools, backup, replication, information security services, etc.
The success of the transition to the cloud depends on the maturity of business processes in the company, the existence of a strategy for its development and the willingness of management to change. Surely, each such project is individual, customer requirements are diverse, different scenarios are possible. In addition, not all organizations have such competencies, so a competent partner with relevant experience is needed.
The cloud, for serious use, is very expensive firstly.
What is "serious use"? In my case, this is: GUARANTEED access 24/7 with GUARANTEED elimination of inaccessibility within no more than 15 minutes, again 24/7. Guaranteed storage of information for at least 10 years, with access at any time. Guaranteed increase in storage capacity up to 1000 megabytes per day. Guaranteed write and read speed of at least 100 megabytes / sec. Protection against unauthorized access, again GUARANTEED.
It's worth it all ... A LOT.
For what - for the city hospital and the intensive care unit. Where you need to have time to see the graphical PDF of the case history while preparing for the operation. And these PDFs weigh a lot.
Having tasted the delights of working with the clouds, hospitals are starting to return their own local data centers. The price is similar, but the cable will not be cut, and getting through is not a problem.
It will be objected to me that a lot of clouds satisfy my requirements for quite reasonable money. To which I object that I did not see the word GUARANTEES in the public user agreements. Promises to make every effort — seen.
There is a big difference between "You will have access to your data 24/7" and "You will be guaranteed access to your data 24/7". The second formulation can cost 1-2 orders of magnitude more.
I would like to note that all the advantages of cloud services primarily depend on the quality of the service itself and its reliability. You need to pay attention to the protection tools - their updating and relevance. Otherwise, all these advantages are useless.