Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Nicole Bryan, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Greg Schulz

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: 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
"We work in the area of Big Data analytics and Big Data analytics is a very crowded space - you have Hadoop, ETL, warehousing, visualization and there's a lot of effort trying to get these tools to talk to each other," explained Mukund Deshpande, head of the Analytics practice at Accelerite, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to 'DevOps at Cloud Expo 2016' as Conference Chair The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited t...
SaaS companies can greatly expand revenue potential by pushing beyond their own borders. The challenge is how to do this without degrading service quality. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Adam Rogers, Managing Director at Anexia, discussed how IaaS providers with a global presence and both virtual and dedicated infrastructure can help companies expand their service footprint with low “go-to-market” costs.
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Avere Systems is a hybrid cloud solution provider. We have customers that want to use cloud storage and we have customers that want to take advantage of cloud compute," explained Rebecca Thompson, VP of Marketing at Avere Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Presidio has received the 2015 EMC Partner Services Quality Award from EMC Corporation for achieving outstanding service excellence and customer satisfaction as measured by the EMC Partner Services Quality (PSQ) program. Presidio was also honored as the 2015 EMC Americas Marketing Excellence Partner of the Year and 2015 Mid-Market East Partner of the Year. The EMC PSQ program is a project-specific survey program designed for partners with Service Partner designations to solicit customer feedbac...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, provided an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profession...
Let’s face it, embracing new storage technologies, capabilities and upgrading to new hardware often adds complexity and increases costs. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Seth Oxenhorn, Vice President of Business Development & Alliances at FalconStor, discussed how a truly heterogeneous software-defined storage approach can add value to legacy platforms and heterogeneous environments. The result reduces complexity, significantly lowers cost, and provides IT organizations with improved efficie...
In the world of DevOps there are ‘known good practices’ – aka ‘patterns’ – and ‘known bad practices’ – aka ‘anti-patterns.' Many of these patterns and anti-patterns have been developed from real world experience, especially by the early adopters of DevOps theory; but many are more feasible in theory than in practice, especially for more recent entrants to the DevOps scene. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Chair Andi Mann, panelists discusse...
Predictive analytics tools monitor, report, and troubleshoot in order to make proactive decisions about the health, performance, and utilization of storage. Most enterprises combine cloud and on-premise storage, resulting in blended environments of physical, virtual, cloud, and other platforms, which justifies more sophisticated storage analytics. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Peter McCallum, Vice President of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor, discussed using predictive analytics to mon...
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
Most organizations prioritize data security only after their data has already been compromised. Proactive prevention is important, but how can you accomplish that on a small budget? Learn how the cloud, combined with a defense and in-depth approach, creates efficiencies by transferring and assigning risk. Security requires a multi-defense approach, and an in-house team may only be able to cherry pick from the essential components. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Vlad Friedman, CEO/Founder o...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
The pace of innovation, vendor lock-in, production sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and managing risk… In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dan Choquette, Founder of RackN, discussed how CIOs are challenged finding the balance of finding the right tools, technology and operational model that serves the business the best. He also discussed how clouds, open source software and infrastructure solutions have benefits but also drawbacks and how workload and operational portability between vendors ...
The U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) has awarded BAE Systems a five-year contract worth as much as $75 million to provide enhanced geospatial intelligence technical and analytical support. The award was issued under the INSCOM Global Intelligence indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract.
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
The initial debate is over: Any enterprise with a serious commitment to IT is migrating to the cloud. But things are not so simple. There is a complex mix of on-premises, colocated, and public-cloud deployments. In this power panel at 18th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Partnerships at Commvault; Dave Landa, Chief Operating Officer at kintone; William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interou...