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Hybrid cloud migration starts with updating the private cloud

It might seem counterintuitive, but a key part of hybrid cloud adoption is committing the time and resources to updating your private cloud. These steps will set you up for success.

Before committing to hybrid cloud adoption, organizations need to take stock of their existing infrastructure.

There's been a lot of hype around the public cloud over the past few years, and while there are advantages to moving workloads to the cloud, a total lift and shift, in most cases, isn't a good way to get there. Two of the major reasons organizations are turning away from the public cloud are cost and time to migrate.

Attendees at last week's Virtualization Technology Users Group in Foxborough, Mass., learned about the challenges of the public cloud and how to migrate to hybrid in a session presented by Rick Gouin, CTO at Winslow Technology Group, an IT consultancy in Waltham, Mass.

"One of the biggest factors we've seen for that boomerang effect [away from public cloud] is when our client underestimates their costs for data storage and for 24/7 applications," Gouin said. "If you have an application that's consistently running, that oftentimes is going to cost more to run elsewhere because you can't take advantage of the elasticity and of your ability to shut this infrastructure down."

Plus, organizations that try to migrate entire servers to the public cloud instead of only certain workloads might find that the migration takes weeks or even months, if they manage it at all. IT wants to migrate without too much downtime, and with this lift-and-shift approach, that can seem impossible.

A hybrid cloud migration can give IT the best of both worlds by enabling administrators to use their existing on-premises virtualized infrastructure while offloading some applications to public cloud services.

Why should you go with a hybrid cloud migration?

A hybrid cloud migration not only eases the burden of managing costs, it's also the more efficient choice because IT can prioritize which workloads to move to the public cloud and when. It might not make sense to move legacy systems to the cloud, for example, or those systems over which admins want to maintain a certain level of control.

Hybrid cloud market growth
Hybrid cloud market growth estimate from 2016-2021

For organizations with regulatory concerns, it makes more sense to keep certain applications in a private cloud, essentially delivering them on demand from their existing server virtualization infrastructure. Getting compliant in the public cloud can be very costly and time-consuming.

Hybrid cloud migration the right way

Virtualization and cloud admins can follow these steps to get started with a hybrid cloud migration:

Evaluate the virtual infrastructure. Take a thorough inventory of applications and get to know the nature of those workloads. Ask if the workload makes sense to keep on-premises or if it can be moved to the public cloud to take advantage of certain features.

"Not all of your applications are going to be applications that are written to leverage a [public] cloud platform," Gouin said. "When you're just talking about a business logic application that leverages a SQL Server behind it and sits on a VM, there's a lot less flexibility to enjoy some of those benefits."

Not all of your applications are going to be applications that are written to leverage a [public] cloud platform.
Rick GouinCTO, Winslow Technology Group

Another thing to consider is how many interdependencies applications have. If an application with a lot of dependencies is migrated, it can wreak havoc on data center operations.

Update private cloud components. While investing in private cloud might seem like a step backward, it's a key part of the hybrid cloud migration process.

"As customers want to make this journey into a more cloud-connected world, too often they're trying to do that because they don't want to refresh," Gouin said. "I hear all the time, 'I want to go to the cloud because I've got a bunch of old servers, and I don't want to buy new ones.' That's a terrible reason. Moving the workloads from that stuff into AWS [Amazon Web Services] is not going to cost you less money than buying a few new servers."

This doesn't mean the data center needs the latest and greatest servers for a successful migration, but IT needs to modernize it enough to avoid performance and management issues down the road. Flash storage and software-defined networking, for example, can optimize infrastructure and make migrating workloads to the public cloud easier.

Also, be sure to right size the infrastructure. If the workloads aren't currently using all the resources, don't purchase that same amount of resources when updating servers. Remember that the data center won't need the same number of servers it has now because some applications and workloads are going to the cloud.

Migrate certain workloads to the public cloud. A good place to start is moving VMs and files that aren't in use to the public cloud. Disaster recovery is another good option for the public cloud, while IT can keep business-critical applications and legacy systems in the private cloud.

Once virtualization admins know their infrastructure inside and out and have updated their private cloud hardware, they can move workloads without worry, knowing that the prep work they've done for hybrid cloud migration has paved the way for a relatively easy transition.

This was last published in January 2018

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