Many enterprise businesses today deal with a huge list of challenges in order to migrate their huge applications to the cloud environment. For instance, numerous enterprise applications are so large that of the simplest ways to migrate a customer environment to the cloud is to physically ship the customer storage disks to the cloud carrier. Second, some enterprise applications have delicate data that requires compliance to security regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley for financial data and HIPAA for healthcare data. This data needs masking when moving the data far from current infrastructure and into the cloud. In addition, these enterprise applications often run as production copies within a customer environment while the reporting, development and test applications are hosted and run in the cloud environment, therefore requiring the cloud copies to be refreshed from the existing production copy.
Three Good Reasons for Migrating to the Cloud
While many different cloud benefits have been touted in media over the past couple of years, there are three essential reasons put forth for why companies should migrate their present applications to a public, private or hybrid cloud environment. The following three benefits highlight the general key benefits:
Cost: From both a capital expenditure (CapEx) and operating expense (OpEx) perspective, clients save both time and cash in migrating their physical environments and applications to a cloud infrastructure. The savings in cost, from both a short-term operating management cost and long-term capital expense viewpoint, are quite attractive. For example, by moving a big 20TB Oracle Financials database to the cloud, the customer can save millions of dollars in storage cost and administration labor costs to support the cloud environment in comparison to the previous physical infrastructure. One recent study from an NTT 2013 Security survey reported that 70 % of mature cloud adopters obtained a significant financial take advantage of their migration to the cloud.
Experience: instead of transforming the wheel, customers benefit from effective structures and processes exercised by experts with important market experience. The heavy lifting is currently done and the successful framework is already in place. The processes have been developed, tested, and shown.
Scalability: Running your systems in the cloud allows you the elasticity to expand quickly, either permanently or on an as-needed “burst” basis. Conversely, it also allows for scaling back, with commensurate cost savings, should that be necessary.
Surprisingly though, the major benefit of cloud migration is not cost savings but innovation and agility:
Speed: fast easy implementation of new ideas and business functionality.
Time: more time to think strategically instead of maintenance.
While cost savings are certainly desirable, in the bigger picture, the most important benefits are innovation and agility. In reality, there is significant proof that innovation and agility are driving migration (2011 Cloud Computing Survey, CIO magazine, November 2010).
When one comprehends all the services, packages and functionality offered by a cloud provider such as Amazon, with the many alternatives for computing resources, storage, databases, analytics, monitoring, application services and recovery, one may get to the conclusion that this has to be the future. How or why would anyone want to run these functions in-house unless it was his or her core business (e.g., Amazon, Google, etc.)?
Migration Challenges while Moving to the Cloud
Customers typically are at a deadlock when it comes time to migrate their environments to the cloud One challenge is lack of experienced resources to perform the actual migration. In-house personnel often do not have the highly specialized technical cloud abilities or experience to perform these complex migrations.
A basic example might be a sole proprietor running a web site on WordPress. In such a case, it would refer publishing a copy of the WordPress directories to a hosted server and a quick import of some MySQL data. A WordPress migration represents a simple migration. As we move up the complexity scale from a single website, there is a broad scope of potential candidates for cloud migration. As cloud migration candidates become larger and larger and a growing number of complex, does the migration itself become too challenging to manage? Is it possible to move major enterprise applications to the cloud?
Let’s address that elephant in the middle of the room: The concern, voiced by IT leaders, is that cloud service providers oversimplify their solutions and fail to appreciate both the complexity of their potential customers’ applications and their fears that migration could fail. (Growing pains in the cloud: 300 CIOs express their views about barriers to cloud adoption, NTT Com, May 2013) Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that enterprise cloud migrations present, you would be hard-pressed to find a business reliant on its data systems that did not recognize and desire the tactical benefits of the cloud. Thus, the will to migrate is there.
One large complex enterprise application that can be hosted in the cloud is Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS). EBS can be hosted in Amazon Web Service (AWS). AWS has Oracle and EBS templates available for the software distribution. Oracle impressively offers live EBS migration to AWS. Even with pre-existing templates and live migration functionality this migration might be thought about as too risky an operation for companies whose business depends on these applications. Even if the companies are ready to accept the risk, there still exists the larger issue challenge of how to move a large enterprise application that is terabytes in size, such as a 30TB Oracle SAP environment, to the cloud.
So, how do you move such an environment from internal systems into the AWS cloud? Network performance and latency is a key factor to think about. For instance, for lots of customers, network connections to AWS fail to support a sufficiently fast transfer rate. In such a situation it would be difficult to move to the cloud via online migration. A migration would be even harder for big apps that need multiple copies of TBs of data like QA and development. Running development and QA in the cloud is a perfect study for the cloud, where the amount of resources needed varies depending on the development cycle. If the development cycle has actually simply finished a sprint, then it might require a burst in QA capacity to quickly QA the code.
Issues while moving to the cloud
The cloud migration issues that companies have been voicing are
- How do we migrate terabytes of data for development and test environments to a cheaper, more reliable cloud facilities?
- How do we keep environments in the cloud in sync with on-premise environments without paying an expensive data transfer cost?
- How do we handle burst capacity throughout high load periods without sustaining continual maintenance/infrastructure costs?
- How do we make sure data is moved securely to the cloud and protected when it is in the cloud?
Moving, syncing, masking and optimally managing terabytes of data in the cloud requires innovation and new technology. There is a new technology that enables moving data effortlessly and easily to the cloud.
The cloud offers tremendous advantages but these advantages can be difficult to obtain due to the inherent obstacles in migrating to the cloud. The biggest challenge to cloud migration for enterprise applications is transferring the huge amounts of data these applications depend upon and generate.