When the need arises to make a big change in any area of the business, we often find resistance from one or more of the people involved. In some cases, this resistance is motivated by a frustrated experience that results in a negative memory and in others by a lack of knowledge about the new scenario, which leads to fear of the unknown. When we talk about using cloud computing, it's no different, even when companies have experienced and skilled IT professionals in front of them, the decision to change usually goes through other sectors, such as finance and management, that don't always have enough information to feel sure to face this change.
In a survey by Project Management Institute Brazil (PMI), it was found that only 33% of projects are completed meeting price, time and quality requirements and the main reasons for failure are lack of communication and visibility among all those involved regarding the details of the steps that must be taken until the delivery date. So that the project to cloud computing is not among the 66%, planning of migration now comes in to place, which we call the journey to the cloud. As mentioned in other articles, each company is a unique universe, made up of restrictions, requirements, expectations and own resources, so we know that there is no way in having a standard execution model, because for each scenario all these factors should be considered, however, there is a basic structure of information that can be raised that will make the migration project simpler and more understandable for all areas.
The first stage of the journey to the cloud, we call pre-assessment. At this stage, information is collected and its objective is to enable the construction of a map that reflects the current scenario of the environment. Briefly, the information to be mapped is:
At this stage, the project objectives must also be defined, that is, at least one item must be determined at the end of the journey. These objectives can be of different categories such as increasing the security of the environment, reducing infrastructure costs, improving the performance of certain software, among others. In practice the objective will serve as a reference to validate the success of the project.
The conclusion of the pre-assessment phase is the preparation of a simple document, which should briefly demonstrate the mapped scenario, emphasizing the main points of attention and any elements that need to be addressed to enable the start of journey to the cloud. An example of these problems is the connection link, which if not stable and providing sufficient width to support user-generated traffic, will result in poor performance, slowness and even disruption of communication, meaning it can make cloud use unfeasible. On the other hand, any network problems can be solved through configurations or, at most, a change in the contracted link. In general, by identifying the problem in advance it is possible to take measures that eliminate the points of failure.
With the document ready, a meeting with all involved parties is essential and at the end of it, any adjustments should be made before taking the next step. An important point is to avoid the use of technical terms, as this can simplify understanding for the people representing the different business areas. With the alignment done among all the areas it is possible to proceed to the scope detailing and elaboration of the migration plan.
When we talk about migration plan we should consider that it is going to be executed in at least four steps, as follows:
In the first step, it usually starts by running backup routines by directing files to the cloud. This way, if there is a physical problem in the current environment, the data will already be safe, having being stored in the cloud environment and can be quickly restored from there, reducing downtime. To enable this secure copy in the cloud, it is necessary to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) between the company and the cloud, this way you can ensure that data access will be done securely, avoiding breaches.
In the second stage, focus is given to building a replication of all possible services. In practice, the goal is to build a cloud environment that is as close as possible to the production environment, so any physical problems in the production environment wont even be noticed by users, since switching can be immediate or done in a short time.
With regard to the Homologation environment, the concept is simple: it defines the key users who will use the systems in the approval environment to validate whether they are able to notice any positive or negative difference. During this testing period, it is important that the machines are monitored by automation tools, as this will allow you to identify the need to resize, correct problems with the operating system or even the software that is running. In some cases, while using the homologation environment it is possible to simulate the users load in order to predict the need of load balance or modify the instances according to the workflow.
The turn of the key can be considered the crucial point of the journey. A traditional model is often unsuccessful because the above steps are not strictly followed. Thus, following the good practices we presented in this article, the key turn is often not even perceived by users, because it is just a DNS entry. Explaining: Because the environment is already fully replicated and has been thoroughly tested to make it the production environment, we are just talking about a configuration issue. Therefore, when the user opens the systems they will automatically access the new environment without any interaction on their part. As a good practice, we recommend that these turns be made in low demand windows, as it may be necessary to wait for the domains to propagate (application address) or even some previously unidentified adjustment is required. Anyway, it is possible to reduce the need for rollback to zero and within minutes of the environment unavailability window.
Overall, the pillar for the cloud journey to be properly designed and executed perfectly is one: Experience! It is essential that professionals with knowledge and experience are allocated to projects with complexity similar to the environment to be migrated, as this experience will identify hidden elements and considered them for correct execution. Depending on the scenario, it will be necessary to have a multidisciplinary team, which together will form a complete team, capable of supporting the entire migration, mitigating risks and increasing the chances of project success. Certainly, a journey to the Cloud based on good practices and appropriate professionals will result in optimal and effective use of resources, resulting in cost savings in the medium term, bringing financial return to the institution and, above all, ensuring that the environment is able to support the company during the digital transformation process, increasing competitiveness and enabling the internal IT managers to focus on what matters: Your business!