Moving to the cloud – don’t let it rain down problems
Russell Barley, Cloud Architect at IONOS, highlights the reasons why planning is so important when moving to the cloud and shares his essential top tips for doing so
Moving data to the cloud has a clear host of benefits that have become even more prominent with more people working remotely in the current climate. However, while offering flexibility, scalability and increased productivity for businesses, to make the cloud prosperous requires a lot of careful consideration and ongoing planning. With that in mind, here’s how to ensure your business executes the move effectively.
Choose the best option for your requirements The first consideration for businesses migrating to the cloud is to ensure the company chooses the correct solution. Public cloud, where a third-party provider hosts and manages the data, is often seen as the most popular choice. However, it’s important to remember that all businesses have different requirements for workloads, employees and teams so choosing the ideal solution is essential. One route to explore is the use of hybrid and multi-cloud options, which can adapt to suit business needs. Hybrid cloud combines a private cloud with one or more private cloud services, enabling additional agility and control, while multi-cloud is the use of several different public cloud services, meaning the business uses a mix of IaaS services, sharing the workloads between each. Alternatively, a corporate cloud solution that offers a modern IaaS platform could be the right fit. The first step is spending time researching the choices, and discussing internally or seeking advice from experts, like a cloud architect, to help make sure the right decision is made. This will help you select the correct solution for your requirements.
Streamline migration A key part of successful migration is checking and confirming that the cloud is working hard for the needs of a business. Appointing a lead to manage a project like this can put the right plan and steps in place to make the process as simple as possible. The migration process is straightforward from an infrastructure perspective: analyse workloads, servers and applications; decide on the resources needed and deploy them; monitor the resources, and scale up or down accordingly. The next step is to assess the load cycle of the applications and understand what’s needed for a functional cloud server. If there are seasonal peaks, or quieter out-of-hours cycles, map the details and architecture for those usage cycles. Shut down systems when they’re not needed, and scale systems during on and off-peak times. Planning can help save costs, prevent future issues and ensure maximum efficiency. Taking it one step further, switching to the more modern approach of containerisation for applications and workloads could be a better solution – this would be beneficial if there isn’t a need for an underlying operating system to be present for all business applications. If the business is looking to reduce the consumption of resources then exploring managed Kubernetes and utilising the host of PaaS offerings that cloud providers have could be the best solution. Again, speak to the experts, and ensure your planned approach is the most suitable.
Complying with data legislation With the increased prominence of data and privacy laws, it’s essential that businesses stay up-to-date with any legislation changes that could impact them. While this can feel daunting for any business, for EU companies, choosing an EU cloud hosting provider can help ensure that business data is secure. The EU has long been at the forefront of data protection worldwide and has directed much of its legislative effort towards ensuring consumer data protection through GDPR, and this continues to provide clear guidance for all companies storing and processing data. However, being aware of wider global legislative issues is essential, especially when third-party cloud providers may store data globally. One such law that is calling the rights of European Cloud users into question is the US Cloud Act, passed by Congress in early 2018, as it allows US courts to grant warrants to law enforcement agencies forcing the disclosure of customer data stored outside of the US.
This applies to EU providers that are subsidiaries of US companies and EU-based companies that have a subsidiary in the US. The legislation has direct contradictions with GDPR, and can leave companies facing the situation of breaching the US Cloud Act on one hand, or GDPR on the other, when being asked to disclose protected data. With that in mind, for EU companies, the current solution is to choose cloud providers based in the EU that do not store or process data anywhere other than in European data centres. Providers that are subject to EU law must only act in accordance with GDPR, and therefore there is no danger of being obliged to disclose personal data on the basis of the US Cloud Act.
Common mistakes when moving to the cloud One of the most popular approaches when moving to the cloud is to migrate everything over, and then to ‘re-factor, re-architect and re-strategise’. However, this approach can mean not enough time is factored in to finalise the project completely, leading to higher costs than expected and a poorly designed infrastructure with limited cloud functionality. Another mistake made is thinking that all cloud infrastructure has the same requirements or rules. This isn’t the case, and it’s important to re-ask every question that helped lead to the current infrastructure, as most decisions were made within the boundaries of that original set-up. Restarting this process may seem like a big task, but the opportunity allows you to re-align the technology to current or future business needs and data strategies. Finally, many think that bigger is better when it comes to choosing cloud capacity but over-provisioning, where a business chooses capacity that isn’t immediately needed, is a common issue. It can be helpful to plan for future additional use, but continuously re-adjusting resources depending on what’s needed can be a more efficient use of capacity and can help avoid unnecessary costs. Exploring the opportunities to find the right fit for the business and embracing cloud technologies can help ensure your business has the best systems and support possible. When it comes to cloud migration, planning, ongoing evaluation and not being afraid to make changes when needed can ensure your business reaps the full benefits of the cloud.