Migration of IT Workload to Cloud – As-Is or Transform?

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This is the first in a brief series of articles about migrating compute, storage, and network workload from hosted, or on premise hosted, to public cloud like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. 

Many of the clients and prospective clients I engage with have heard varying strategies about migration of workload to cloud from multiple sources During the initial conversations to qualify prospective clients, one of the early questions that I get asked very early in the discussion and almost every time is:

Should we transform our environment during the migration, or migrate to the cloud as-is?

There is no question that transformation during migration will increase work effort, cost, and risk to the migration. The safest way to land workload in the cloud is in an as-in state.  Therefore, the answer is not a simple yes or no, but rather “it depends”.  While there are many factors involved, some of the key factors are:

Budget – In transforming workload, the budget will be higher due to the additional analysis and work effort to design, implement, and execute the migration.  There also will be larger “bubble” costs for the time the migration has one foot in the cloud and one foot in the source data center(s).

Risk Tolerance – What is the risk tolerance of the key stakeholders?  Many of my clients have a culture of low risk tolerance and cannot, or will not, accept the risk.

Resource Availability – Does the company have enough subject matter experts to safely design and execute the transformation?

Time – Is there a time exit constraint on the current data center or facility?

Level of Transformation – What are the expectations of transforming?  How much Infrastructure as a Service, and Platform as a Service may be utilized?

In summary, every migration to cloud is different and requires the ability for the migration team to properly assess the factors and arrive at a detailed strategy and approach that is achievable and will meet the key stakeholders need.  I have designed strategies that consider the factors listed above and every migration approach has been different.  If anyone gives you a “cookie-cutter” approach, be aware and be prepared to ask the right questions.

About the Author

Brian Hiatt is an expert leader at safe and successful data center workload migration to private, virtual private, and public clouds.  His experience includes large scale global data center migrations as well as small to medium size business workload migrations.  He can be reached at brian@brianhiatt.com or https://brianhiatt.com