Blog November 1, 2018

Should You Migrate Mission-Critical Workloads to the Public Cloud?

In their 2018 Cloud and AI Adoption Survey, IDC found that 40% of IT decision-makers have migrated applications or data that were primarily part of a public cloud environment to an on-premises or private cloud solution in the last year. Yet, businesses are still moving workloads to public clouds like AWS, Azure, and Google at an astounding rate. In fact, Gartner forecasts public cloud revenue to grow by 21.4% in 2018.

So why are so many IT decision-makers second-guessing their migration to the public cloud?

Look Before You Leap

One of the most common mistakes we see is organizations getting caught up in the excitement surrounding public cloud solutions. While the developers of these solutions are pretty careful not to overpromise, with all of the third-party blogs, articles, and opinions found online, it’s easy to come away with the idea that the public cloud is the answer to all of your IT infrastructure issues.

The public cloud is a tremendous asset that works for many different types of workloads, but there are three situations in which it pays to proceed with caution:

Your applications aren’t architected for the cloud. This is probably among the most common reasons for migrating back to an on-premises or private cloud environment. Many organizations use older mission-critical, back office applications that weren’t designed for a cloud environment. (Some of them were built even before there was such a thing as “the cloud.”)

Migrating these applications to the public cloud using the “lift and shift” method can impact performance and create security risks. On the other hand, rewriting parts or all of the application to address these issues is expensive, time-consuming, and not always effective. You should do your research ahead of time and know what you’re getting into before moving any application to the public cloud, especially your legacy applications.

You have security and compliance concerns. Security and compliance is one of the main reasons organizations don’t move their workloads to the public cloud in the first place. However, public clouds like Azure and AWS can be very secure – even HIPAA/HITECH compliant ­– when deployed correctly.

But setting up a compliant environment takes knowledge and forethought. AWS, for example, claims to have more than 500 security features on their platform – some standard and some not. Knowing what you need and what you don’t is a real challenge if this is your first foray into the public cloud with a sensitive workload. Once you choose your features, it also pays to have someone who understands how to configure these features properly, so you don’t inadvertently impact performance or leaves holes in your defenses.

Related post: The Top 6 Mistakes Jeopardizing Your HIPAA Compliance

You don’t have the right expertise in-house. Finally, some organizations discover that they simply don’t have the right expertise in-house. Managing workloads, especially mission-critical workloads, in a public cloud environment is not the same as managing them in an on-premises or private cloud.

If you’ve got a steep learning curve ahead of you, start slowly with less sensitive data. This will lower your chances of making a mistake that could create a security breach or require a migration back to a private cloud. Better yet, ask a knowledgeable managed service provider to help you with your first cloud deployment. A good provider can offer expertise and guidance and help you develop your own in-house skill sets at the same time.

Finding a Managed Service Provider

Not all providers offer managed services for the public cloud. Some say they do to pique your interest, but at the end of the day, they spend their time selling you on their colo or managed private cloud offerings. They may have good reasons for recommending a private cloud, or it may be that they don’t know much more about public cloud offerings than you do.

One of the ways you can tell Connectria focuses just as much on public clouds as we do on our hosted private clouds is by the depth of services and tools we offer for the public cloud. Our TRIA Multi-Cloud Management Platform is a good example. This is the platform we use to monitor our clients’ AWS and Azure cloud environments for security, performance, and cost-optimization, and we provide this same platform to all of our managed cloud clients so they can see exactly what we see.

Have a workload you’re considering migrating to the public cloud? Reach out to us. We’d be happy to discuss it with you, and offer suggestions that can help you get the most from your IT investments.

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