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With the vast majority of enterprises already using the public cloud, the new focus of cloud migration strategy has shifted from low-cost and flexible IT infrastructure to leveraging mission-critical apps and workloads in the cloud.
This blog post looks at cloud migration challenges and opportunities and describes three cloud migration case studies using Cloud Volumes ONTAP.
Why Migrate from On-Premises to the Cloud?
What is Cloud Migration?
The cloud migration process involves moving all or part of an organization’s data, apps, and services from on-premises data centers to a public or private cloud, where they are accessible on-demand over the Internet to authorized users. While some workloads can be transitioned to the cloud as is—also known as a “lift and shift”—others may require refactoring.
As an indication of how cloud migration strategy is evolving, research from the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) shows that almost 70% of organizations are migrating data for their ERP apps from on-premises to the cloud—with 90% of those stating that they consider these apps to be business-critical. And just in case you thought that the cloud migration trend might be reaching a plateau, market analysts are forecasting that, on average, global revenues from cloud migration services will grow by ~22% each year over the next five years.
A key driver for data migration to the cloud is that cloud environments are becoming more diverse, offering enterprises numerous deployment options such as private, public, and hybrid cloud architectures. We have also seen the emergence of robust automation and orchestration platforms that ease the pain of managing even complex cloud infrastructures. Other drivers for cloud migration include:
- Very efficient and cost-effective backup and disaster recovery capabilities.
- High availability for geographically-distributed enterprises as well as for the growing trends of teleworking and mobile device use.
- Reducing operational costs and freeing up IT human resources to fuel business growth initiatives.
- A safer space. The cloud has come to be considered a highly-secure infrastructure.
Cloud Migration Challenges
Cloud adoption and migration, however, are not without challenges. It is important to have a plan in place before the migration takes place in order to avoid issues with:
- Accessibility: It’s not enough to migrate a file share to the cloud. You also have to be able to access files via the same NAS protocols: NFS and SMB /CIFS.
- Interoperability: When migrating a database or other workflow to the cloud, you must take into account its interdependencies with external resources, as well as its network or VLAN topologies.
- Performance and availability: An app’s resource requirements must still be met after migrating its data to the cloud.
- Data protection in the cloud requires a paradigm shift in data governance and access controls.
- Costs: Large-scale data migration can incur hefty bandwidth costs. It also often requires production downtime, which has significant direct and indirect costs.
- An optimal hybrid architecture (what to leave on-premise and what to move to the cloud): The organization must also have the skills and technology to manage a hybrid infrastructure.
- Security vulnerabilities: Organizations sometimes overlook the vulnerability of their data during the transfer from on-premise to the cloud.
Cloud Migration Case Studies
Cloud Volumes ONTAP is an enterprise-grade data management platform that runs as a virtual storage appliance on the AWS and Azure clouds. Leveraging NetApp’s industry-leading data storage and management technologies, Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides a software-defined storage (SDS) solution with single-pane visibility for orchestration across even the most complex hybrid and multicloud infrastructures. Its data replication, backup, and disaster recovery capabilities ensure that the organization’s cloud-based assets are cost-effectively managed and protected against loss or corruption.
What follows are three cloud migration case studies of enterprises that leveraged Cloud Volumes ONTAP for smooth transitions of their data to the cloud.
The Cordant Group
The Cordant Group is a UK company that started in security services and later expanded into facilities management as well as recruitment. With 190+ locations and 5,000+ clients throughout the UK—and growing—the company has an extensive IT infrastructure.
As part of a strategic decision to shift from a CAPEX to an OPEX model, the company had already migrated its infrastructure to a private isolated section on AWS. However, the company found itself restricted to the use of Windows DFS to manage its server resources. Another challenge was related to SQL databases that held business-critical information. As a veteran NetApp customer, they were able to use SnapMirror® technology to easily replicate data from its physical storage infrastructure to the AWS public cloud and reap the following benefits:
- NetApp Snapshots™ for quick and cost-effective backups in the cloud that complies with a rigorous data restore objective of less than an hour.
- Leverage SnapManager® for SQL for crash-consistent, application-aware backup copies with little or no impact on their storage resources or application performance.
- A robust and cost-effective cloud disaster recovery solution with automatic failover and failback capabilities when things go wrong.
- The ability to provision both NAS and SAN storage, with support and multi-protocol access for SMB/ CIFS, NFS, and iSCSI.
- Single-pane centralized management of their hybrid architecture via NetApp BlueXP Console.
In short, by migrating and then managing their data with Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the Cordant Group achieved the scalability they needed to grow their business, realized storage efficiencies and cost savings of 40-50%, gained the flexibility of a hybrid architecture, and could rest assured that their data was protected wherever it resided.
AdvancedMD provides a SaaS medical office workflow solution that automates manual front office and billing processes, maintains always-accessible electronic medical and health records, and promotes patient engagement. With AdvancedMD deployed, physicians can focus on improving patient care, with the added bonus of increased revenue because their practice is running more efficiently.
When AdvancedMD was spun off from its parent company, ADP, they had to quickly move all their data out of the ADP data center. As ADP was an existing user of NetApp storage technology in-house, AdvancedMD decided to use Cloud Volumes ONTAP for AWS for moving to the cloud. The key benefits that they gained were:
- Easy lift and shift of their SQL database and their file shares, with no need to change their infrastructure architecture.
- High availability dual-node redundancy for AWS and for Azure to provide minimal downtime in failures or upgrades, a critical requirement when dealing with important healthcare data.
- Storage efficiencies, such as data deduplication, compression, and compaction as well as thin provisioning, automated tiering, and instantaneous data cloning to writable volumes with zero impact on storage footprints.
- The intuitive BlueXP Console interface, with simple lift-and-shift drag-and-drop operations, as well as support for data management automation and orchestration.
- During the migration and afterwards: Enterprise-level data protection and encryption (especially important for sensitive healthcare data, HIPAA regulations) without sacrificing scalability or agility.
Large Financial Institution
With origins as a government-sponsored institution, today this company is a fully privatized bank that owns nearly one-fifth of the student debt across the United States. Offering more than 500 savings plans and operating across several states, this massive financial institution has annual revenues of ~$1.6 billion and employs 1,500 people nationwide.
The company had made a strategic decision to transition workloads from their on-prem data center to the public cloud. However, they also needed to maintain a consistent Data Fabric across which data could flow seamlessly between their on-prem and public cloud storage resources.
The first task was to replicate more than 50 TB (!) of production WORM (Write Once, Read Many) data to Amazon S3 object storage from their NetApp on-prem storage arrays. They were delighted to see that they could accomplish this quickly and securely using the Cloud Sync automated data synchronization service.
Data migration to the cloud is growing as enterprises embrace the benefits of moving business-critical workloads to the cloud. However, cloud transitions must be carried out with care in order to maintain seamless access to file shares and databases, protect and secure data, and uphold application and database performance SLAs.
NetApp’s Cloud Volumes ONTAP helps enterprises achieve their cloud migration objectives with intuitive lift-and-shift workflows, robust backup and DR solutions, cost-reducing storage efficiencies, and high availability.
For enterprises that use NetApp’s on-prem storage arrays, Cloud Volumes ONTAP also offers automated data synchronization across a single Data Fabric. Download this free guide to cloud migration to find out more.