Migrating to the cloud doesn’t have to be a painful process—but let’s be honest, it is a significant move, and one that should be done with thoughtfulness and care.
Recently, Vittorio Viarengo, vice president of cloud marketing at VMware, met with several customers who migrated from on-premises infrastructure to VMware Cloud on AWS. They talked about their goals for moving to the cloud, how they prepared, and what challenges they faced along the way. Watch the video here, and read on for some tips and takeaways from the discussion.
Each panelist brought a different set of circumstances and requirements:
- Nikola Zarecki, Principal Enterprise Architect, Equinix
- Shannon Henwood, Head of Technology, iSelect
- Neill Smith, Head of Infrastructure, The Scottish Government
If you’re planning a migration in the coming weeks or months, take a few minutes to review these tips from those who have already taken the journey.
1. Develop a migration plan and run a proof of concept(s)
Everyone agreed that planning is a critical step, one that can’t be overlooked. You want to plot out what you’re doing, in what order, and what you want to achieve. For some, this means developing a plan over a period of months. For more urgent situations, this could mean several all-hands-on-deck sessions over a couple of weeks.
Next, you should run at least one proof-of-concept (PoC) exercise. This will allow you to take a structured approach to evaluating of the features of VMware Cloud. A good PoC will allow you to prove that your plan works, and will help your team learn about he steps and tactics involved in migration.
Nikola Zarecki and his team planned a months-long effort to move over 2,000 workloads—and believes the importance of this step cannot be understated: “Our hybrid cloud is the result of comprehensive testing and thinking about what to do and how to migrate,” says Zarecki.
2. Assemble a team and tap into your network
Planning is vital. Knowledge is too. Build out your migration team by making sure people with the right skills and expertise are represented—then look outside your organization.
You’re not the first to migrate to the cloud. Reach out your network to see who has successfully migrated before and what they learned. Don’t be shy about asking for advice and help from your peers. People are very open to sharing what they know and are happy to assist.
When Shannon Henwood prepared to do a rapid migration of 400 workloads over the course of three weekends, he didn’t simply hope for the best: “We had AWS helping us. We had VMware helping us. It’s so important to get the right people in the room.”
Also key: Designate one person as the migration lead. Someone should be accountable for leading the effort and making final decisions—that way, the process can flow faster and doesn’t get paused by waiting for multiple people to give approvals and weigh in.
3. Understand the needs of your apps
The modern IT landscape is complex and diverse. If your environment is like most, you have a mix of SaaS apps, cloud apps, homegrown apps, and off-the-shelf apps. These apps each have a unique set of needs and requirements—which adds complexity.
Before you migrate, take the time to understand how your app stack works. Some will be easy to migrate; like SaaS or other modern apps. Others, including traditional or off-the-shelf apps, may have more demanding requirements that will take additional work. Flag potential challenges ahead of time so that you can create a realistic picture of the time and effort that your unique app estate will require.
As Neill Smith says: “There’s a real drive to just ‘put it in the cloud’ but that’s not necessarily always the right thing to do. You need to evaluate each requirement at face value and look at what each app needs.” VMware Cloud gave his team the ability to take their time and explore the best options, including refactoring and more.
The better you know your applications, the more successful your migration will be—and the fewer issues you’ll experience once your apps are running in the cloud. Your goal is consistent performance and minimal downtime.
4. Get to know the AWS infrastructure
A migration to the cloud is essentially a move to Infrastructure-as-a-Service. Just like you know your current infrastructure well, you also need to learn about what your target infrastructure looks like.
Take some time to study the design of VMware Cloud on AWS. As Nikola says: “Traditional enterprise-grade infrastructure designed for on premises applications does not resemble AWS. You need to know what you’re migrating toward.”
As part of this discovery, you will likely discover some things that affect your plan. For instance, you may identify points of failure that require you to add redundancy, or make other adjustments to assure high availability. Know what resources you’ll need and how to access them. Becoming familiar with your new infrastructure is well worth your time.
5. See mistakes as an essential learning tool
Throughout the planning and proof-of-concept stages, your team will make mistakes. And that’s okay. Neill said it best: “We all make mistakes; we’re all human. You learn more of the product by making mistakes”—so lean into them. Doing something wrong is simply an opportunity to learn how to do it the right way.
Fostering a culture of open communication, curiosity, and embracing mistakes will help you up to and during migration—and long after. Because one thing is for sure: journeying to the cloud is only the start of modernization. Business drivers, market dynamics, and applications will continue to evolve. What the cloud provides is a platform that allows you to respond more quickly and maintain flexibility for a more resilient future.
The journey to cloud is worth it
Neill, Nikola, and Shannon all agreed: Moving to VMware Cloud on AWS brings significant benefits, including:
- Making disaster recovery faster and simpler
- Fostering relationships between infrastructure and development teams
- Making it easier to be a better partner to the business
- Seeing big improvements in agility and service delivery
- Achieving one-click provisioning and reducing maintenance overhead
- Reducing CapEx costs and optimizing resource allocation