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Cloud Migration

Transitioning Out: Having a Plan for a Cloud Transition

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The cloud is home to a growing number of companies looking to take advantage of scalable, on-demand resources. But what if you migrate to the cloud and then decide to leave? Many companies require such plans as a fundamental part of their cloud migration strategy before they onboard to the cloud.

Whether it’s shifting data among clouds or out of clouds, this blog examines the key factors to a successful transition and transition planning, and discusses how NetApp’s Cloud Volumes ONTAP data migration tools can facilitate cloud transitions.

Reasons for Transition Planning

For most enterprises migrating data to the cloud is old news. According to the RightScale 2018 State of the Cloud Report, 96% of their respondents now use the cloud. As cloud strategies mature, however, we are seeing an overwhelming trend towards complex deployments, including hybrid and multicloud architectures. We learn from the RightScale report that enterprises taking advantage of the public cloud are using (on average) 2.7 public clouds. Similarly, among those using any private cloud, the average is 3 private clouds.

The complexity of these multicloud deployments serves important business needs, including optimizing performance vs. cost, cutting cloud storage costs, upholding data governance and security policies, and avoiding vendor lock-in. However, complex infrastructures require a lot of data lifting and shifting among private and public clouds as well as on-premises to the cloud migration. If not managed properly, the right data may not be in the right place at the right time; or silos of replicated data may be created that are costly and difficult to manage.

There is yet another cloud scenario that requires massive shifting of data: exiting the cloud. Although not discussed anywhere near as much as transitioning to the cloud, it is not unusual for an enterprise to decide that a cloud migration did not achieve its business objectives and workloads with their data should now be transitioned out. In US government contracts with public cloud providers and third-party vendors whose solutions rely on cloud technology, for example, it is considered a best practice, and sometimes even mandated contractually, to have a clear plan for exiting from a cloud. An example of such contractual language can be seen in the example below:

The Contractor shall provide the User with options for automating a migration from the cloud service provider to a different provider and/or physical data repository (“Transition-Out Plan”).

The Transition-Out Plan: A Reverse Cloud Migration Strategy

Good Cloud Transition-Out PlanIt is useful for any company transitioning to cloud computing to develop a cloud exit strategy beforehand. In many ways, a good cloud transition-out plan is the reverse of a transition-in plan. For example, changes that you made to applications so that they would run on the cloud now need to be reversed. If those changes were minimal and if the original environment is still intact (i.e., if the company took a “lift and shift” approach to migration, which has minimal migration risks), it’s fairly straightforward to bring the apps back to their pre-cloud state and lift and shift out of the cloud with minimal disruption to workflows. However, if the legacy environment is no longer available or if the app was significantly refactored for the cloud, you should stay in the public cloud until you have prepared and tested a suitable app and in-house infrastructure.

Other factors to consider:

  • How are you going to handle demand peaks? Will virtualization of your infrastructure be able to meet demand spikes?
  • Is your network ready? The transitioning out requires robust network connectivity to handle the massive data shift.
  • The migration itself: How will you avoid downtime? How will you move data safely and efficiently? How can you test that it’s production-ready in its new environment?
  • Post-migration, how will you continue to monitor that the transition-out objectives are being met and performance optimized?

It might be noticed that the above challenges are very similar to the set of challenges involved with initial cloud migration planning.

Transitioning with NetApp Cloud Migration Tools

NetApp’s data migration tools address the data challenges of cloud transitions discussed above by facilitating seamless and secure shifting of data from the cloud back to on-premises, as well as among public cloud providers. These tools and data services provide consistent data migration capabilities and full data visibility across numerous and diverse endpoints in both on-premises and cloud environments.

A Use Case for Transitioning Out with NetApp

Consider this customer case study: A retail analytics company was in a period of unprecedented growth of data. Based on the company’s experience in the cloud, it was soon going to become prohibitively expensive for it to continue operating in the cloud.

Using NetApp data migration tools, this company was able to migrate its deployment to Cloud Volume ONTAP and an on-prem NetApp All Flash FAS (AFF) as a storage solution, remaining with a public cloud provider for compute resources. Taking advantage of data deduplication and other NetApp storage efficiencies led to reducing storage requirements and costs by 67%.

NetApp users can use Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s SnapMirror® to migrate, replicate, sync, or “lift & shift” ONTAP data sets across hybrid environments, between on-prem and the cloud, or between clouds. SnapMirror gives you functionality and integrability within the rest of Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s rich feature set, which will sync and update the data incrementally, and include storage efficiencies that cut your transfer costs when transitioning out.

The Cloud Manager provides single-pane visibility and control across your entire cloud and on-premises infrastructure, and will allow the user to orchestrate and monitor the replication and migration processes.

With the Cloud Sync service, you can migrate data over a variety of protocols to and from disparate data sources, across hybrid and multicloud environments, whether NFS, SMB/CIFS, Amazon S3 or EFS, Azure Blob storage and more. When using SnapMirror or Cloud Sync, you can continue to work with both the source and target data sets while the synchronization is taking place.

A Final Note

Complex infrastructures require high levels of automation and orchestration in order to achieve secure and optimal data mobility, that supports secure, cost effective data migration, replication and synchronization across environments. NetApp provides these capabilities with Cloud Volumes ONTAP.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager