Of the over 1,200 IT professionals surveyed in the CDW Cloud 401 Report, 100 percent of the respondents report that cloud computing services have been implemented as part of their IT strategy. And of their total IT services, 35 percent of those are delivered completely or partially by the cloud, with 54 percent being migrated from traditional delivery and a whopping 46 percent starting in the cloud. So, one could glean from these statistics that organizations are no longer testing the waters. 

While it may seem easy to justify using cloud, most customers are challenged with the “how” more than the “why” of using the myriad of solutions “as a service.” When it comes to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), some applications are born and raised in the cloud. Most organizations are now looking at how to leverage IaaS for more of their existing applications.

As outlined in the latest CDW white paper, migration is a tough nut to crack. Many of the Software as a Service (SaaS) products like productivity are easier to migrate to the cloud since data – along with profiles – are the primary migration targets. CDW’s Microsoft Practice can provide migration into Office 365, while partners like Tempus Nova provide services with a Google-approved suite of services for migrating large-scale, on-premises email and messaging systems.

When looking to move workloads from an existing infrastructure deployed on-premises, organizations must look at a number of factors to ensure successful moves from one environment to another. Let’s take a look at a few of the potential challenges.

Virtualization

First things first: Is the workload currently virtualized?

While some as a service providers offer solutions on physical/dedicated hardware (bare metal and/or private cloud hosts), the majority of solution providers use massive virtualized deployments. Most of these solutions are delivered on virtualization platforms from VMware, Microsoft, Citrix or Open Source services like OpenStack or KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine). Moving an application designed and built to run in a dedicated environment can present challenges. CDW offers services to assess and – in some cases – move, but the following represents a good starting point:

  • Is there enough horsepower (IOPS) in a virtual guest to support the application?
  • Is it a clean file system?
  • Can your organization handle downtime to move?
  • How are resources provisioned?
  • How is the application licensed?

Application Inventory

  • What needs to be moved?
  • How is the performance?
  • Are there interdependencies between the application and other servers? (For example, if you don’t want to move an app server to the cloud if your database cannot be moved.)

Compliance

  • What specific metrics are needed?
  • How are instances segmented?
  • What protections has the service provider implemented?
  • Is the service provider “certified” across the entire service delivery stack? (Some will say PCI-compliant when only the physical data center is certified.)
  • Will the service provider assume liability? (Not all liability assumptions [Business Associate Agreements, or BAA] are equal. Just because a provider says they’re willing to offer a service level agreement against a metric does not mean the documents will protect all organizations against breaches.)
  • Is there adequate security? (Physical? Logical?)

Network

  • Can the service provider utilize private address space? (MPLS/VPLS/other private WAN service)
  • Can the service provider provide the user existing public address space?
  • What will moving an application offsite do to the current IP addressing inside the environment?

The list goes on and on, but the key for these deployments is to ensure a quantifiable success plan. Folks must know before kicking off a project what constitutes a successful and failed deployment. Additionally, the best way to implement is via a Proof of Concept to ensure the services perform as advertised.

Also, don’t forget about the need to monitor and troubleshoot should also be considered since most IaaS providers offer infrastructure and nothing more. CDW stands ready to assist organizations regardless of hypervisor, application, network considerations, etc. From planning to sourcing to migrating, CDW is here to help.

Lastly, check out BizTech Magazine to see how others are utilizing cloud computing to increase ROI and work smarter, not harder.

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