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Planning the perfect cloud migration

Image: Adobe Stock / Ar_TH

Cloud is becoming the norm for many organisations, and offers clear benefits in terms of scalability, speed and cost, no matter what sector.

It also allows companies to develop new business models, drive new efficiencies and modernise mission critical systems. But for many companies, moving to the cloud can be complicated – with organisations having legitimate concerns over everything from data privacy to business impact.

The cloud is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution and making it work for a company requires careful thought about the infrastructure and business needs. It’s also a journey, not a destination, so not every business needs to fully switch over immediately. However, there are common concerns for companies hoping to grow their IT infrastructure using the cloud. These include a lack of expertise among staff, challenges associated with compliance, data privacy, security and unpredictable costs as well as potential downtime due to implementing new technology.

Companies which have invested heavily in data centres also face a double-edged sword. If they have already plunged money into their own data centre, why move to the cloud? While moving to the cloud can be complex, and seem daunting, there can be another way to do it. Instead of migrating the data centre to the cloud, why not bring the cloud to the data centre?

Think before you migrate

When it comes to the cloud, it pays to think carefully about the potential benefits of moving applications there, and consider how ready your organisation is to migrate. Many companies use ‘phased’ migrations, typically moving the older parts of data centres to the cloud first to avoid the costs of replacing old equipment. But this approach can have drawbacks. If the servers that are moved first are difficult to migrate, or provide only limited benefits, it can slow down implementation and put the brakes on a company’s journey to the cloud.

Fully assessing the cloud-readiness of your company is a key first step. Organisations need to review interconnected and interdependent applications which might be difficult to migrate. Cloud migration assessment tools, which can automatically detect these set ups, can help businesses assess the feasibility of moving to the cloud – and highlight any potential difficulties.

Workload assessment toolkits can also pinpoint what to move first to minimise disruption. Companies need to ensure that the servers they pick to start with are ‘easy wins’ – ones where the migration will be straightforward and offer high benefits. That way the process can get underway without slowing down or creating resistance within the business.

Bring the cloud to the data centre

By 2025, 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms, up from 30% in 2021, according to Gartner. Businesses should therefore try to find a route to the cloud that is both suitable for them now and adaptable to future developments.

Bringing the cloud to the data centre in the form of a hybrid cloud deployment, with a mix of on-premise and cloud computing, has advantages for companies hoping to grow and digitally transform at their own pace.

Choosing ‘pay-as-you-go’ services can also help companies find the right level of investment for them.  A cloud-like approach such as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offers solutions on-demand, meaning that companies can get access to innovative technologies when needed, without paying for upfront infrastructure costs. The as-a-Service approach allows organisations to get access to more computing resources as required, with additional support from the cloud provider.

It also helps to reduce risk by eliminating the cost and complexity of application entanglement. It does this by simplifying the interoperability of solutions without moving them out of the data centre and to a remote cloud environment. Infrastructure-as-a-Service also benefits enterprise critical applications such as ERP, CRM and SCM. Having cloud-based ERP systems, for example, can totally transform supply chain management, helping to automate as much of the process as possible while eliminating mistakes. The insights that ERP offers improves the supply chain, making it easier to identify inefficiencies and adjust as needed. As such the reliability of the supply chain is significantly more robust.

Similar results can also be achieved when it comes to CRM and SCM. If implemented in the right way, cloud can make it easier to manage data and processes as it can help create a holistic view of the business, in real-time.

Learn from IaaS success stories

It is essential for businesses to adopt an approach that suits them and their customers. An example is Servimed, one of the largest distributors of pharmaceutical and consumer products in Brazil. It wanted to upgrade its systems, and so the company opted for a ‘pay-as-you-go’ model, becoming a pioneer among companies in Brazil. While the company was preparing to upgrade to SAP HANA applications, it realised that its previous IT infrastructure was expensive, due to the costs of supporting legacy IT, and was stifling innovation.

Servimed switched to an IaaS solution, cutting up-front costs thanks to pay-as-you-go hybrid cloud. This was a cost-effective way to switch and was perfect for a company with on-premise infrastructure and highly interconnected systems. Since this has been implemented, there has been 100% availability and 40% of the IT team’s time has been freed up, so that they can focus on more valuable tasks within the business. This has boosted productivity and enabled Servimed to continue to provide a great service.

Take a tailored approach

When implementing a cloud solution, it’s important to remember that agility is key. Organisations require freedom to control budgets and strategic priorities, combined with the peace of mind of getting the latest and most efficient hardware environments tailored to specific needs. Assured security and compliance are also essential.

Changing IT infrastructure is a daunting task for any business, particularly for established players with highly interconnected processes. Fully migrating a data centre to the cloud has well-proven benefits, but many businesses cannot afford the downtime.

Considering ‘pay-as-you-go’ or hybrid approaches will help organisations bring the cloud to the data centre. And finding the right solution that meets the needs of a business will increase flexibility, maximise availability and optimise business performance, now and in the future. The nature of hybrid models also means it’s easier for business-critical data to remain on site, behind company firewalls. Therefore, compliance with governmental and industry-specific customer and data privacy rules becomes easier.

Ian Jeffs
Ian Jeffs
General manager at Lenovo Infrastructure Group

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