Welcome!

@BigDataExpo Authors: Jim Hansen, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Cloud Best Practices Network, Don MacVittie

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.


@BigDataExpo Stories
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Every successful software product evolves from an idea to an enterprise system. Notably, the same way is passed by the product owner's company. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Oleg Lola, CEO of MobiDev, will provide a generalized overview of the evolution of a software product, the product owner, the needs that arise at various stages of this process, and the value brought by a software development partner to the product owner as a response to these needs.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive ad...
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addres...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed ...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Creating replica copies to tolerate a certain number of failures is easy, but very expensive at cloud-scale. Conventional RAID has lower overhead, but it is limited in the number of failures it can tolerate. And the management is like herding cats (overseeing capacity, rebuilds, migrations, and degraded performance). In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing for the HGST Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit, discussed how a new approach is neces...
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, discussed how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy applica...
"We're bringing out a new application monitoring system to the DevOps space. It manages large enterprise applications that are distributed throughout a node in many enterprises and we manage them as one collective," explained Kevin Barnes, President of eCube Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint, a leading digital experience intelligence company, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint Systems is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into your customer-critical services to help you consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed for digital business, C...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
"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...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dataloop.IO, an innovator in cloud IT-monitoring whose products help organizations save time and money, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Dataloop.IO is an emerging software company on the cutting edge of major IT-infrastructure trends including cloud computing and microservices. The company, founded in the UK but now based in San Fran...
A look across the tech landscape at the disruptive technologies that are increasing in prominence and speculate as to which will be most impactful for communications – namely, AI and Cloud Computing. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Curtis Peterson, VP of Operations at RingCentral, will highlight the current challenges of these transformative technologies and share strategies for preparing your organization for these changes. This “view from the top” will outline the latest trends and developm...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...