While moving to the cloud brings many benefits associated with it, we need to also be aware of the pain points associated with such a move. This post will discuss those pain points, provide ways to mitigate them, and give you a checklist which can be used if you plan to migrate your applications to cloud. We will also discuss the advantages of moving to the cloud.

Common pain points

One of the primary pain points in moving to the cloud is selecting the appropriate tools for a specific usecase. We have an abundance of tools available, with many solving the same problem in different ways. To give you a basic idea, this is the CNCF's (Cloud Native Computing Foundation) recommended path through the cloud native technologies:

Cloud Native Landscape

Picking the right tool is hard, and this is where having experience with them comes in handy.

Also, the existing knowledge of on-premises data centers may not be directly transferable when you plan to move to the cloud. An individual might have to undergo a basic training to understand the terminology and the concepts used by a particular cloud vendor. An on-premises system administrator might be used to setting up firewalls via Iptables, but he might also want to consider using Security groups if he plans to accomplish the same goals in the AWS ecosystem (for EC2 instances).

Another point to consider while moving to the cloud is the ease with which you can easily get locked in to a single vendor. You might start using Amazon's Auto Scaling Groups to automatically handle the load of your application. But when you plan to switch to another cloud vendor the migration might not be straightforward. Switching between cloud services isn't easy, and if you want portability, you need to make sure that your applications are built with a multi-cloud strategy. This will allow you to easily switch between vendors if such a scenario arises. Taking advantage of containers and Kubernetes may give you additional flexibility and ease portability between different cloud vendors.

Advantages of moving

Despite the pain points listed above, there are many advantages involved in moving your applications to cloud. Note that even big media services provider like Netflix has moved on to the cloud instead of building and managing their own data center solution.

Cost

One of the primary advantages of leveraging the cloud is avoiding the cost of building your own data center. Building a secure data center is not trivial. By offloading this activity to an external cloud provider, you can instead build your applications on top of the infrastructure provided by them. This not only saves the initial capital expenditure but also saves headaches from replacing hardware, such as replacing failing network switches. But note that switching to the cloud will not magically save cost. Depending on your application's architecture and workload, you have to be aware of the choices you make and make sure that your choices are cost efficient.

Uptime

Cloud vendors provide SLAs (Service Level Agreements) where they state information about uptime and the guarantees they make. This is a snapshot from the Amazon Compute SLA:

SLA

All major cloud providers have historically provided excellent uptime, especially for applications that properly leverage availability zones. But depending on a specific usecase/applications, you should define the acceptable uptime for your application and make sure that your SLA matches with it. Also depending on the requirements, you can architect your application such that it has multi region deployments to provide a better uptime in case there is an outage in one region.

Security and Compliance

Cloud deployments provide an extra benefit when working in regulated industries or with government projects. In many cases, cloud vendors provide regulation-compliant hardware. By using cloud providers, we can take advantage of the various compliance standards (eg: HIPAA, PCI etc) they meet. Validating an on-premises data center against such standards can be a time consuming, expensive process. Relying on already validated hardware can be faster, cheaper, easier, and more reliable.

Broadening the security topic, cloud vendors typically also provide a wide range of additional security tools.

Despite these boons, proper care must still be taken, and best practices must still be followed, to deploy an application securely. Also, be aware that running on compliant hardware does not automatically ensure compliance of the software. Code and infrastructure must still meet various standards.

Ease of scaling

With cloud providers, you can easily add and remove machines or add more power (RAM, CPU etc) to them. The ease with which you can horizontally and vertically scale your application without worrying about your infrastructure is powerful, and can revolutionize how your approach hardware allocation. As your applications load increases, you can easily scale up in a few minutes.

One of the perhaps surprising benefits of this is that you don't need to preemptively scale up your hardware. Many cloud deployments are able to reduce the total compute capacity available in a cluster, relying on the speed of cloud providers to scale up in response to increases in demand.

Focus on problem solving

With no efforts in maintaining the on-premises data center, you can instead put your effort in your application and the problem it solves. This allows you to focus on your core business problems and your customers.

While not technically important, the cloud providers have energy efficient data centers and run it on better efficiency. As a case study, Google even uses machine learning technology to make its data centers more efficient. Hence, it might be environmentally a better decision to run your applications on cloud.

Getting ready for Cloud

Once you are ready for migrating to the cloud, you can plan for the next steps and initiate the process. We have the following general checklist which we usually take and tailor it based on our clients requirements:

Checklist

Conclusion

I hope we were able to present you the challenges involved in migration to cloud and how to prepare for them. We have helped various companies in migration and other devops services. Free feel to reach out to us regarding any questions on cloud migrations or any of the other services.

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