Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Gil Allouche, Lori MacVittie, Dana Gardner, Adrian Bridgwater

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, SOA & WOA, Virtualization, Web 2.0, Big Data Journal, SDN Journal

Cloud Expo: Article

Top Three Best Practices for Migrating to the Cloud

Planning your migration strategy

As an Infrastructure-as-a-Service provider, Bluelock sees a lot of migration of applications. Migration is occurring from physical servers to cloud, from private cloud to public cloud and back to private cloud from public cloud.

Migration can be tricky and a poor migration strategy can be responsible for costly time delays, data loss and other roadblocks on your way to successfully modernizing your infrastructure.

While each scenario is different, I'd like to identify three key best practices that will help your team create a solid, successful plan for migrating your application.

Even before you begin to move your application, there's a lot of best practice that goes into choosing which application to migrate to the cloud. Regardless of whether you are migrating that app to a public cloud or a private cloud, you should assess the app for data gravity and connectivity of the application.

Best Practice: Understand the Gravity of Your Data
Data Gravity is a concept first discussed by Dave McCrory in 2010. It's the idea that data has weight and the bigger the data is, the harder it is to move. The bigger the data, the more things are going to stick to it.

McCrory states in his original blog post about Data Gravity, "As data accumulates (builds mass) there is a greater likelihood that additional Services and Applications will be attracted to this data."

McCrory goes on to explain that large data can be virtually impossible to move because of latency and throughput issues that develop upon movement. On his website, datagravity.org, McCrory explains that to increase the portability of an application it should have a lower data gravity.

When moving tier one applications from a physical datacenter to a private or public cloud, we have to take data gravity into account because it will impact the migration.

As you are talking about migrating an application, you can think of the full stack of components as a single VM or a group of VMs that are a vApp (see Figure 1).

Think of a VM with an OS. If we were to migrate that entire VM to the public cloud, we're copying anywhere from 8-20 GB of data with that OS for no reason at all as the cloud you're migrating the app to might already have the OS available to it.

Rather than transferring the data for the OS, whenever possible use metadata instead to describe what OS you want and the configurations using a template or an image on the public or private cloud side. The same metadata concept can be applied to middleware instances too.

What we're left with is our actual data and what the app is. The app is static and static info is easy to move because you can copy it once. There's no need to replicate.

The most difficult part of the migration is the data, however. There's no easy way to shrink down the data, so you need to evaluate the weight of the data in the app you're considering migrating.

Especially if you're a high transaction company, or if it's a high transaction application, as that would be a lot of data to replicate. The data of the app constitutes 99% of the data gravity of the application.

Part of the best practice of understanding the gravity of your application is to understand the ramifications of moving a tier one application with a large amount of data and establish where the best home for that application is.

Another aspect that you should evaluate as part of your pre-migration plan is to determine how connected your VM or vApp is to other apps.

If you have a lot of applications tightly coupled to the application you want to migrate, the cloud might not be an option for that application, or at least only that application.

Best Practice: How Connected Is Your App?
Beyond what applications are connected to the app you want to migrate, the important aspect to evaluate is how coupled the application in question is to other applications, and how tight or loose of a couple they are.

Does your application have data that other applications need to access quickly? If so, a move all or nothing philosophy is your best option.

If you have an application that is tightly coupled to two or three others, you may be able to move them all to the cloud together. Because they are still tightly coupled, you won't experience the latency that would occur if your cloud-hosted application needed to access a physical server to get the data it needs to run.

A step beyond identifying how many apps are tied to the application you wish to migrate, work next to identifying which of those applications will be sensitive to latency problems.

How sensitive it can be should be a consideration of whether you should migrate the app or not.

To be able to check this best practice off your list, be very sure you understand everything your application touches so you won't be surprised later, post-migration.

The final part gets down to the nitty gritty... choosing the correct migration strategy.

Best Practice: Pick Your Migration Strategy.
Your best-fit migration strategy will be a function of the features of the application.

Option one is data migration of just the data. This is typically the correct choice for tier 1 and 2 applications.

Let's say you are able to migrate your VM or vApp. But, it's constantly changing and if it's a tier one application, we may not be able to afford a lot of downtime. Typically, we'll have to invoke some sort of replication.

Replication is an entirely separate subject, but when I think of replication, I think of the size of the data, the rate of change and the bandwidth between our source and target.

Without going into too many details of replication, let's assume you use some sort of SQL or MySQL program for database replication. What you've done is set up your new cloud to have this OS provision. You've got a MySQL provision and the two SQLs are talking to each other and replicating the data.

Option two for migrating your application is machine replication. This is best for tier 1 and tier 2 applications that can afford some downtime. It involves stack migration. There is less configuring in this scenario, but there is more data migrating.

Option two is best if you're moving to an internal private cloud. You will be able to replicate the entire stack because you have plenty of bandwidth to move stuff around.

It's important to note the portability of VMware, because VMware allows you to package the entire VM/vApp, the entire stack, into an OVF. The OVF can then be transported anywhere if you're already on a virtualized physical server.

Option three involves cold P2V migration. You typically see this for tier 2 and 3 apps that are not already virtualized.

The concept involves taking a physical app and virtualizing it. VMware has a VMware converter that does P2V, and it's very easy to go from a physical to a private cloud using P2V. It is, however, an entirely different set of best practices.

In option three, there is no replication. Those apps can also be shipped off to a public cloud provider to run in the public cloud after being virtualized.

A final path some companies take is to treat it as a Disaster Recovery (DR) scenario. Setting up something to basically do replication from one machine to another. Replicate the entire stack from point a to point b, and then click the failover button.

Each application, and migration strategy, is unique, so there is no detailed instruction manual that would work for everyone. The best strategy for some applications may be to stay put, especially if you find that steps one and two of the pre-migration evaluation is closely connected or especially weighty. To truly enjoy the benefits of cloud, you want the right application running that you can leverage to the fullest extent.

When planning your migration strategy, ask for help from those who are familiar with similar use cases and plan and evaluate extensively to save yourself a lot of time, money and headaches that come from rushing into a migration without a strategy.

More Stories By Jake Robinson

Jake Robinson is a Solutions Architect at Bluelock. He is a VCP and former CISSP and a VMware vExpert. Jake’s specialties are in infrastructure automation, virtualization, cloud computing, and security

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrateg...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device exp...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
High-performing enterprise Software Quality Assurance (SQA) teams validate systems that are ready for use - getting most actively involved as components integrate and form complete systems. These teams catch and report on defects, making sure the customer gets the best software possible. SQA teams have leveraged automation and virtualization to execute more thorough testing in less time - bringing Dev and Ops together, ensuring production readiness. Does the emergence of DevOps mean the end of E...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using ...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
"Verizon offers public cloud, virtual private cloud as well as private cloud on-premises - many different alternatives. Verizon's deep knowledge in applications and the fact that we are responsible for applications that make call outs to other systems. Those systems and those resources may not be in Verizon Cloud, we understand at the end of the day it's going to be federated," explained Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at...
"For the past 4 years we have been working mainly to export. For the last 3 or 4 years the main market was Russia. In the past year we have been working to expand our footprint in Europe and the United States," explained Andris Gailitis, CEO of DEAC, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. Acco...
The term culture has had a polarizing effect among DevOps supporters. Some propose that culture change is critical for success with DevOps, but are remiss to define culture. Some talk about a DevOps culture but then reference activities that could lead to culture change and there are those that talk about culture change as a set of behaviors that need to be adopted by those in IT. There is no question that businesses successful in adopting a DevOps mindset have seen departmental culture change, ...
"Cloud consumption is something we envision at Solgenia. That is trying to let the cloud spread to the user as a consumption, as utility computing. We want to allow the people to just pay for what they use, not a subscription model," explained Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps,...
SYS-CON Media announced that Centrify, a provider of unified identity management across cloud, mobile and data center environments that delivers single sign-on (SSO) for users and a simplified identity infrastructure for IT, has launched an ad campaign on Cloud Computing Journal. The ads focus on security: how an organization can successfully control privilege for all of the organization’s identities to mitigate identity-related risk without slowing down the business, and how Centrify provides ...
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
"SAP had made a big transition into the cloud as we believe it has significant value for our customers, drives innovation and is easy to consume. When you look at the SAP portfolio, SAP HANA is the underlying platform and it powers all of our platforms and all of our analytics," explained Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We help companies that are using a lot of Software as a Service. We help companies manage and gain visibility into what people are using inside the company and decide to secure them or use standards to lock down or to embrace the adoption of SaaS inside the company," explained Scott Kriz, Co-founder and CEO of Bitium, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Ar...
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.