Are We There Yet? The Long, Hot Road Trip to the Cloud

“If I have to pull this car over, there will be trouble!” 

Does this evoke childhood memories of summer adventures in the family car?

It’s the same sort of dread we get when the IT budget holder turns around and threatens to pull over on our journey to the cloud, or hybrid cloud. The family summer road trip may be filled with great expectations, but the last thing we want is an unforeseen disruption along the way. And migration to the cloud is no different. To continue this analogy, the bumps on the road to avoid are the ones around cost, performance, and risk. So, here are some thoughts on how to identify the challenges and navigate to your destination smoothly:

The Line of Business needs to pee (they think)

Planning business needs is always a challenge—especially at the speed of change in today’s disruptive markets. The unforeseen impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is one example. We hear it a lot in our industry: “We don’t know which applications are using the most bandwidth and how much they are costing us.” And with 59% of infrastructure managers citing infrastructure cost overruns as their biggest concern, there’s definitely room for immediate improvement. Having clarity into your application topology with a clear map to performance is mission-critical for a successful hybrid cloud journey.

Because this is such a dynamic process, it needs to be mapped and measured daily, in real time. But simply automating VMs to workload balance does not give you the clarity needed to understand what and when to move in your hybrid journey. You need the ability to understand why and when things changed so you can effectively plan or resolve the issues. According to Gartner Research, on average, AWS deployments are 40% over-provisioned to meet unexpected capacity and performance issues—which defeats the purpose of moving to the public cloud. “Know before you go” should be a mantra for every hybrid journey manager—and parent managing backseat bladder needs.

IT just hit a major pothole and now has a flat tire.

A flat tire only ruins a trip if you don’t have a spare, the tools, and the knowledge required to fix it. For most, the actual solution is to call AAA or in this case, get a third-party systems integrator (SI). Calling an SI to help solve an unforeseen problem is not a bad idea, but it does come with a hefty price tag and a level of dependency that doesn’t mirror the model of moving to a public cloud. With the right solutions in place, even a pandemic like COVID-19 should not disrupt your business.

That said, it takes time and effort to get there, and no journey worth taking is easy. Having integrated solutions and partners are critical to the hybrid cloud journey. And so is knowing when to fix it yourself and when to call in support to save you millions.

Too much luggage from the DBAs.

Packing the back of the family Ford “Wagon Queen Family Truckster” is a special skill set. It’s like playing Tetris with your family’s luggage. Right-sizing infrastructure capacity while supporting applications is like making sure all the luggage fits in the car, and that you still have room to move your feet. Sure, you could buy a bigger car to manage the payload, but the expense doesn’t justify the performance. You need the clarity to act across your private and public cloud infrastructure in a single solution without disruption is required. That level of optimization is a constant to remaining competitive, enabling you to transform your infrastructure from being seen as a cost of business to being recognized as a revenue generator.

Compliance just gave you a speeding ticket.

No matter how well-intentioned and on the right side of the law your compliance team is, it can feel like you are in a police chase. And while you don’t mean any harm—the law is the law. In the rush to the cloud, you’re not often asked how you will manage the migration, you’re simply asked how fast you can move—reminiscent of another epic journey: “We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.”

Regardless of whether you identify with Smokey or the Bandit, you cannot deny that Sheriff Buford T. Justice (AKA Compliance/Security Officer) will slow you down. So, work early and often with your compliance team to ensure that where you store your data, and who has access to your data always remains in compliance.

Leadership just ran out of gas on the migration budget…

… and now they want to know when the cost of running applications is best on-premises vs. across the public clouds?

Cost is all about transparency to the needs of the application infrastructure. Too many enterprises are finding that the rush to the cloud was expensive and not well planned, and are shifting critical apps back to the private infrastructure. But you need to go beyond just resourcing noisy neighbors with VM automation. A long-term solution is to optimize the application performance with an integrated APM and infrastructure solution.

A more immediate and tactical solution is to leverage a hybrid infrastructure platform that works across multiple on-premises vendors, and public cloud vendors to give you the cost analysis you need. PayPal is a good example. The team leveraged an on-premises solution for more than nine years during hyper-growth. While they continually optimized their on-premises infrastructure to expand 300%, the total number of employees managing the infrastructure remained flat. Talk about doing more with less.

Application managers are fighting over the music

On-premises vs. public cloud, VMs vs. containers, AWS vs. Google vs. Azure. Where should those applications be running, and how can they migrate them? These may seem like the most trivial of issues to be concerned about, but devops, architects, and managers have deep loyalties way beyond rational factors like cost, performance, and control.

Having the ability to manage and plan cost across a multi-vendor hybrid infrastructure to maintain your performance SLAs is critical. Don’t let blind loyalty or the loudest voice control your path. Your hybrid optimization platform should afford you real-time planning and cloud brokerage to ensure you are optimized for cost and performance.

Your early talent team has been doing the same TikTok dance in the backseat for the past eight hours.

Hearing the same story about why the journey is behind schedule, or the same ask for more budget to meet performance SLAs, or even a repeated request to deviate from the existing roadmap, can wear you down or dilute your focus. It’s important to have a multi-department/cross-functional plan and mapped roles, and to measure performance. Keep the entire team (multiple owners of the “cloud” in a large enterprise) engaged and on the same plan to avoid going into a loop of burned resources and nerves.

Are we there yet?

As with most family trips to magical destinations, the road to a successful cloud migration is fraught with unexpected disruptions—but a good plan can avoid most common challenges. So, no matter what stage you might be at in your hybrid cloud journey, we hope you will reach out to us before you feel the need to pull over when the going gets tough.

About the Author

Scott Leatherman is Chief Transformation Officer at Virtana. Virtana is the leading hybrid cloud optimization platform for digital transformation. Its technology and services give innovative organizations the clarity they need to take control of their infrastructure, transform their cloud operations, and deliver a superior brand experience.