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GCN : January and February 2017
GCN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 • GCN.COM 19 T he exponential increase in Amazon Web Services’ revenue in the past five years makes it clear that we are on the cusp of a generational transformation in how IT organizations provide appli- cation infrastructure. Indeed, Gartner estimates that infrastructure-as - a-service (IaaS) revenue grew by nearly 43 percent in 2016 and said organizations saved “14 percent of their budgets as an outcome of public cloud adoption,” a ratio that is sure to rise in the com- ing years. Many government IT organizations are at the forefront of the cloud conversion due to executive- level mandates, tight IT budgets and the increas- ing demand for online access to information and services. Given the massive installed base of IT infrastruc- ture and the billions spent every year on equip- ment, software and services in the public sector, shifting deployment models from on-premises to in-cloud won’t happen overnight. Instead, it will span generations of technology and applications. So government IT organizations have time to do it right and learn from the mistakes made by early, overly hasty adopters. Many of the mistakes could happen with any major IT project, but some are a function of how cloud services are used. Most migration scenarios involve data movement, such as using a cloud ser- vice for backup and disaster recovery or redeploy- ing an enterprise application that relies on legacy, on-premises data sources. In those situations, it can be challenging to ensure the com- pleteness, integrity and security of data migration. When moving applications to the cloud, IT leaders must decide how to maintain access to necessary data sources. If they opt for a hybrid ar- chitecture, with applications in the cloud and mas- ter data copies remaining on premises, it’s easy to make mistakes setting up network connections, security policies and replication settings. For example, there are no hard rules for choos- ing which data to replicate, how often to replicate it, how long to retain it and how many replicas to keep. Administrators must also make decisions about whether to migrate all application layers to the cloud or just the user interface and busi- ness logic, leaving databases behind. Indeed, the IT team must decide whether the complexity of a hybrid design outweighs the expense of fully repli- cating all data to the cloud. Other migration scenarios — such as replacing on-premises applications with software as a service — are simpler. However, they create problems of application governance, feature mismatch, policy compliance and client support, particularly for or- ganizations with a large fleet of legacy devices that are long overdue for upgrades. And although cloud migrations shouldn’t mean modifications to security policy, they do change how that policy is implemented. Loren Hudziak, Google’s senior solution archi- tect, pointed out that “government and other regu- lated industries have no shortage of accreditation and certifications to consider, but to simply check the box of a cloud provider as meeting one of them isn’t enough.” Regardless of the technical details, migrations are a major undertaking, and organizations face the pitfalls of any large project. Skimping on plan- ning, product research and testing; starting with overly ambitious goals; and failing to manage in- ternal politics and stakeholders are all recipes for failure. COMMON MISSTEPS Whether you’re a federal agency, local govern- ment IT department or a large enterprise, several categories of common migration mistakes span disciplines, including due diligence, technical features, security policy, deployment and test- ing, project management and implementation governance. Here are some common traps to avoid: 1. Assuming that all cloud providers are roughly the same is a particularly danger- ous mistake when migrating applications to IaaS. Although every cloud solution offers virtual ma- chines and several types of raw storage, differ- ences arise in feature details, billing models, and higher-level application and network services. 2. The flip side to stereotyping clouds is over- ly customizing an IaaS deployment and building a “snowflake” environment that cannot be templated to bootstrap future migration proj- ects. This often happens when a single depart- ment runs the project and the application team creates custom management processes, security policies and service configurations that aren’t ap- plicable to the broader organization. Nine cloud migration mistakes 0217gcn_018-022.indd 19 2/1/17 10:05 AM
October and November 2016