Ready for Cloud Migration and Transformation?

A cloud journey can reshape (and improve) the way you do business. Just ask Railserve Inc., the leading provider of in-plant railcar switching for some of North America's largest and most recognized companies.

Each day, Railserve keeps railcars safely moving within industrial, manufacturing and production plants across the United States. This requires more than 1,000 workers at 70 locations to keep things efficiently operating on schedule. The cloud plays a major role in these daily operations.

As Railserve officials can attest, adopting cloud computing isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a journey that takes planning, work and education to get up and running in order to work smarter, better and faster.

Railserve is just one of many organizations that have started embracing cloud computing as a better way of life. While each company takes a unique path to the cloud, all encounter common steps along the way. Each cloud migration shares similar anatomy.

This includes understanding what the cloud is and what it can do for your organization, what to expect during an enterprise cloud migration — and how to manage day-to-day life in the cloud after the migration is complete. Think of the information I'm sharing here as cloud migration101. This post will help you understand the cloud and avoid stumbling into erroneous cloud myths.

What Exactly is the Cloud?

The cloud is made up of remote internet-driven software and services. Data once stored on a hard drive or on-premise servers is now located in a cloud provider's own location, accessible by any internet-connected device. This allows you and your team to share information and collaborate together online in real-time from anywhere in the world. Simply put, cloud solutions drive transformation.

You also can enjoy public cloud services that house many different organizations’ infrastructures, or you can choose a cloud solution that’s private. Either way, the cloud delivers terrific benefits.

A cloud computing environment provides you with a cost-effective, reliable backbone featuring secure cloud infrastructure services and flexible, scalable storage without a pricey hardware refresh. Virtual private clouds (VPC), next-generation firewalls, encryption — and advanced backup and disaster recovery services ensure that your critical data is safe, secure and quickly accessible in the event of a system failure.

Cloud computing also allows you to use enterprise search to access giant repositories of information in or outside of your organization. Using the cloud also allows you to create customized maps and location-based services on your website or in mobile apps so your customers can find you — or so your people can locate their customers.

How Do I Know If It’s Time to Migrate?

If you’re looking at increased costs for on-premise hardware and related solutions, and the idea of an always-on, accessible data network appeals to you, then it’s time to consider an enterprise cloud migration and transformation.

Before you make the move, here are a few steps to take:

  • Conduct a bottom-up and top-down cloud-ready assessment. Bottom-up assessments may use automated environment discovery tools to identify server specifications and cloud fit. Top-down efforts validate application criticality, server dependencies and move groups. (Move groups are applications that are dependent upon each other and must be migrated together.)
  • Establish the business case and total cost of ownership (TCO) for the cloud.
  • Examine the benefits of cloud migration services, as well as the direct and indirect costs related to the migration and ongoing cloud usage. You’ll come up with a final figure that reflects the true purchase price of your cloud investment.
  • Develop a cloud migration plan and remediation strategy. During this phase, you will determine a strategy for each application, including Rehost (such as lift and shift), Refactor, Replatform, Replace (such as considering third-party commercial, off-the-shelf {COTS} solutions) and Retire and Retain (leave in place), — all part of the 6 Strategies for Migrating Applications to the Cloud. It’s best to assess these initiatives early, and have a cloud roadmap in place before you deploy.

At Railserve, executives knew they needed an expandable, secure infrastructure to remedy issues caused by aging legacy hardware, and software that lacked adequate memory. They researched solutions, weighed options and decided to pursue a cloud migration instead of refreshing or purchasing new licenses for the existing environment.

What Can I Expect During a Cloud Migration?

Often cloud migrations involve a simple “lift-and-shift” process. Through this method, which is exactly like its name, the cloud deployment team can move applications and all related data to the cloud through a seamless transition from on-premise servers. Nothing needs to be re-engineered.

Canadian online auctioneers Maxsold enjoyed the ease of a lift-and-shift cloud migration process after facing lagging hardware and security issues including malicious attacks. It also struggled with scaling usage across its two auction sites hosted by a private data center/network provider on physical hardware. Executives decided it was time to migrate to the cloud.

A cloud migration provided the infrastructure needed to halt malicious attacks, provide daily backups and create a system for reliable disaster recovery.

For others, it’s not so simple. When Railserve started to plan its digital transformation, it appeared the deployment team could do a simple “lift-and-shift” cloud migration. However, a pre-sale evaluation of the company's server environment revealed the job would be more complex.

As it turned out, Railserve needed to upgrade all of its virtual machines, so lift-and-shift wasn’t an option. Our deployment team established site-to-site VPN connectivity between the company’s three corporate locations and the cloud migration project. Then, they implemented a new version of the old VMs within the new cloud infrastructure, and extended capabilities to the cloud.

The deployment team spread the migration out over four, one-week engagements. The process, which also focused on secure, remote employee access and disaster recovery, was a success.

What Happens After a Cloud Migration?

Once a migration ends, that’s when the fun begins. You’re in the cloud and can enjoy all of its benefits. You will also have to understand how to manage and support this new way of computing.

Many companies opt to enroll in a cloud managed services program with their deployment partner. Companies gain 24/7/3675 access to an experienced support team that will oversee and maintain their cloud IT infrastructure.

This allows them to free up in-house IT resources to focus on important tasks instead of taking time for reactive troubleshooting and extinguishing cloud infrastructure “fires.”

When you combine the cloud’s speed, efficiency, security and cost-effectiveness with a managed services program, you get a faster and smarter way to work across your organization. Whether you're looking to embark upon a cloud migration from on-premise infrastructure, or from one cloud environment to another, the journey is one for the better — and not one to fear.

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Meet the Author

Doug Sainato, Enterprise Cloud Account Executive

Doug Sainato, Enterprise Cloud Account Executive

Across his 20+-year tech career, Doug Sanaito has helped organizations get the most out of the cloud. He has served as a business analyst, sales/solution engineer and sales account executive, roles that reflect his lifelong love of analytical problem-solving. It comes in handy more often than not in the tech world, as he can attest. When he joined Onix six years ago, he started as a Google Apps SESolution Engineer, a role that helped him quickly develop a passion for the cloud infrastructure and all of the possibilities it offers to organizations launching a cloud journey. He’s an original member of Onix’s GCP team and has held sales, consulting and leadership roles. When his head is out of the cloud, Doug enjoys listening to the Beatles, visiting the beach and finally hoping to catch a big fish.

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