More and more organizations are looking to move their most important data to the cloud and off of on premise data centers. But the process of doing so won’t always run smoothly. There will be multiple challenges along the way that your team will need to overcome. But the prize of successfully migrating to the cloud will be well worth it.
In this post, we’ll look at the top five challenges of migrating databases away from the data center and also show some best practices to help you overcome these challenges for a smooth transition to the cloud.
#1: Avoid Business Interruption and Downtime
Similar to migrating applications to the cloud, when you’re moving data from an on premise data center to the cloud, you can’t just shut the database down and then bring it back up when the migration is complete. Your end users still need access to the data during the migration process. Any downtime and interruptions to “business as usual” can have a significant impact – from loss of revenue to loss of customer loyalty.
There are a number of things you can do to minimize downtime during the cloud migration process as much as possible. First, in the discovery phase, do a complete analysis of all data so you know which ones are the most critical for the business and, therefore, absolutely cannot fail. During this analysis, it’s important to identify if there are any dependencies between different databases and workloads. If one is moved to the cloud but the other isn’t, will this disrupt the day-to-day for users? If so, it’s important to make a plan that dependent and linked workloads will be moved to the cloud at the same time to avoid service interruptions.
You should always communicate your migration timeline ahead of time to business leaders and managers across the organization. Getting their buy-in is very important as they have a better idea of their business processes and what their teams might need specific databases and workloads for (what days or times might need to be “blacked out” for cloud migration in order to avoid disruption during critical periods). For example: if the IT team for a retailer looks to migrate databases that contain customer information to the cloud, their business leaders might tell them to avoid the busy holiday shopping season and wait until January after the New Year to do the upgrade.
In order to minimize business interruptions as much as possible, plan to migrate databases and other workloads in phases rather than all at once. This way, if a system does need to be “down” for a period of time, at least it isn’t all systems that are down at once.
#2: Loss of Data
When migrating from the data center to the cloud, there is always the chance that something can go wrong. Files could be corrupted, incomplete, or go missing. You absolutely cannot afford to lose data when moving to the cloud – especially if you are migrating your most mission-critical data such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, or other important databases. In order to protect against this happening, it is essential to back up all data before the migration process begins. With a backup, you can easily restore data or rollback data if an error occurs.
#3: Stay Within Your Timeline
Staying within your time limits for the completion of the migration project is probably one of the biggest challenges you will encounter on your cloud migration journey. While you can’t plan for every roadblock that will come your way, you can do a number of things to minimize tasks that will suck up your time and ensure a smooth transition to your new environment.
For example, you should take careful stock early on in the process (discovery phase) of how much resources you are currently using in the data center and what other data requirements you might need to adhere to when you migrate to the cloud. By knowing how much you typically use at any given time, you can better right size any future data center investment you make (if you choose to keep some workloads on premise) as well as more accurately invest in cloud environment resources with limited overprovisioning.
This is another time when communicating with the team is very important. By identifying blackout dates when migrating a particular database would be a no go, you can ensure you’re staying on schedule as you won’t need to unexpectedly halt migrating a database because something came up and the team can’t afford any downtime on a particular database right now.
#4: Stay Within Budget
Along with your migration project getting behind schedule, going over budget is a common roadblock that new cloud users run up against. Staying within budget can be tricky, especially once you’ve begun living life in a new cloud environment. Since the cloud vendors charge you based on the number of cloud resources you leverage, you need to continuously be monitoring and optimizing your data usage to ensure that you are staying within budget. Capacity usage can quickly get out of control, especially if you are making copies of data. Whether you are using the copies for Dev / Test purposes, disaster recovery (DR), or for any other reason, clones and snapshots of data eat away at your cloud budget. And since the cloud doesn’t offer enterprise data services – such as zero footprint snapshots and clones, deduplication, data reduction, and data replication – it is up to the cloud customer to monitor that they aren’t going over their limits.
#5: Slowed Performance
The last obstacle you need to keep an eye out for when you migrate out of the data center is the level of performance you get. Because the cloud is a shared environment amongst all of the cloud vendor’s customers, the amount of IO you are able to push is limited. And that limitation might be lower than what your most important workloads need – far lower than what you previously were able to achieve on premise.
You can pay the cloud vendor more in order to push your performance limits higher. But with the limitation in place, you still might not be able to achieve the level of performance your databases need, and there is a chance that you’ll blow through your cloud budget in order to get a higher level of performance. Luckily there are ways that you can push your cloud performance higher that doesn’t blow through your cloud budget. We’ll cover them in the next section.
Solutions to Overcome Data Center Migration Challenges
Overcoming the roadblocks to a successful cloud migration for your most mission critical workloads is easy when you have Silk. Silk supercharges your performance in the cloud, offering up to 10 times faster performance for even the largest, most complex workloads in the cloud – such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and electronic health record (EHR) workloads for the healthcare industry – as well as sub millisecond latency.
The Silk Platform sits between your workloads and the underlying cloud environment. From this location in the software stack, Silk makes it easy to quickly lift and shift from on premise to the cloud. If you have a corporate mandate to get onto the cloud by a certain deadline, this is a great way to start taking advantage of the cloud while continuing to refactor to be cloud native behind the scenes.
The Silk Platform comes with enterprise data services – such as zero footprint snapshots and clones, deduplication, and data reduction. These data services allow users to take as many copies of data as needed without the risk of going over your allotted number of cloud services – in turn, going over your cloud budget.
Silk helps reduce costs even further with its flexible scalability. The Silk Platform was architected for the average, making it possible to scale your cloud resources on demand to meet peak workloads, and then quickly scale back down to avoid unnecessary costs.
A number of organizations in various industries have already begun to see the power of Silk. Sentara Healthcare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization based in the Virginia and North Carolina area. Its team decided that it made sense to move its electronic health record (EHR) workloads onto Microsoft Azure. However, since these type of workloads tend to be large and complex, it can be really difficult to get the super-fast performance needed to leverage them on the cloud – all while staying within Sentara’s cloud budget.
With Silk, Sentara was able to achieve three times faster performance than what they had seen through native cloud alone. And with Silk’s 2:1 data compression capabilities, Sentara’s advanced EHR and Cloud teams were able to reduce the number of Azure cloud environments it used, helping to cut their cloud costs by up to 20%.
According to Sentara Chief Architect, Matt Douglas: “The performance with Silk on Azure could not be met by any other cloud solution for our most intense workloads, including our EHR. Silk and Azure are a powerful combination for complex workloads on the cloud.”
Another company that leveraged Silk for migrating to the cloud was eToro. eToro is a global multi-asset investment platform. With over 20 million customers and continued rapid growth, eToro realized its on premise data centers weren’t keeping up. According to Vice President of Engineering, Israel Kalush: “Migrating to the cloud was a strategic decision. We’ve decided to reduce our on-prem footprint as much as possible in order to improve our ability and global footprint.”
Finding the best method to migrate to Microsoft Azure presented a problem for eToro. A Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution would require refactoring (or redesigning) of their databases which would take too long and had too much risk. However, Azure’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution didn’t offer the high level of performance eToro needed for its Microsoft SQL Server workloads. According to Israel: “While some applications can be migrated easily into the cloud, others – especially ones that require high throughput IO with very low latency – are more complicated and require significant redesign. And significant redesign is expensive and, therefore, less likely to take place.”
By leveraging Silk on Azure, eToro was able to decrease the time it took to adopt Azure by 50%. With Silk’s game-changing performance, eToro is able to complete hundreds of thousands of transactions per second. Says Israel: “We have some extremely IO-intensive databases. Silk was the only provider that actually promised and delivered on sub millisecond latency for those databases… Silk allowed eToro to accelerate its Azure adoption while ensuring that we have sufficient scalability to support our growing community of customers with the highest performance.”
Are you looking to migrate some of your largest and most complex workloads, such as your databases, to the public cloud? Does the thought of refactoring make you nervous about the migration process but you also are considered with the speed of performance the cloud offers you natively? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, Silk might be right for you! Discover how Silk can help you achieve a successful data center migration by visiting www.silk.us to learn more and to get a demo of the platform.