Many IBM Power on-premise customers make the move to the cloud for the opportunity to worry less about their hardware components and related infrastructure and focus more on their business capabilities. Working with a cloud partner with the necessary platform and infrastructure skills, can not only relieve Power customers of some complex technical responsibilities but can also enable them to re-allocate staff to other important activities that drive business value.
Although many customers are motivated to explore the cloud, ensuring a successful migration can involve many considerations:
1. Ensure Compatibility with the Cloud Operating System
Compatibility may not be an issue if you’re coming from an IBM Power platform already, because you’re staying on the same technology. However, not all clouds operate all supported releases of the operating system (OS). Generally, when you move to the cloud especially on IBM Power, the cloud provider in most cases is providing the OS, not just the application. Your application has to be compatible with the cloud OS (meaning the version and release level). As a result, it may force you to perform an upgrade to update your code before you migrate, or it may not, depending on your version and release level. A well-planned-out migration project is typically required. It can be a big undertaking for those who haven’t kept up to date, requiring a lot of time and money to modernize.
2. Re-Establish Essential Interfaces to Other Entities
IBM Power tends to have interfaces with a lot of other entities. It can have interfaces to other infrastructures or other applications either on-premise or in other clouds. Those relationships still need to be re-established in the cloud because they are still essential for your business. Moving everything from on-premise to the cloud is an involved project, and customers often don’t think about these other entities until the last minute.
3. Re-Examine Your Networking
When you move to the cloud, you need to re-examine your networking, since everything still needs to be able to see everything else. With many cloud providers, you need to adapt to their networking schema to some degree. You may have to either migrate through there or adhere to their characteristics, so it can become a big chunk of the migration project. For other cloud providers that are internet-enabled, it’s simple — you just need a connection and away you go. Sometimes customers want the ability to control their network right to the cloud.
At Mid-Range, we tend not to get involved in the networking. We leave that to the customer to own, as it may be just a drop off of their network versus having to go through a major network redesign. We have a phrase that we use often, “No matter what you do, it’s all about the network.” The more complicated the cloud providers’ network interfaces are (and that will vary by provider), the riskier the migration could be. The network should be at the top of your agenda. Do your network due diligence. Don’t underestimate it.
4. Define Your Strategy
In any migration from one site to another, you need to consider your strategy. What is your business outage window? Some customers can take the whole weekend to migrate. In that amount of time, you can take their whole environment, restore it, rebuild it, and test it. Other customers are 7/24, 365, and wonder how they’ll ever be able to manage a migration. The bigger the window you have to perform the migration, the less expensive it probably is. The shorter the window you have, the more expensive the process. You need to find the strategy that best fits your business.
5. Verify the Licensing Requirements for Your Applications
Applications that run on these Power platforms are likely licensed to that machine and may have specific licensing requirements. In this situation, when customers then move to a cloud offering, there could be implications in terms of fees for the ability to run it on different hardware. These licensing fees would be ongoing, on an annual basis. You should verify that all of the vendors’ products that you run on the cloud will be supported and also find out if there are any fees applied to moving.
6. Research Potential Additional Costs
Our experience is that the cloud is not necessarily less expensive. There are several factors that can come into play besides your initial infrastructure costs. Consumption-based pricing is a common cloud pricing methodology, and you may end up paying for things that you never considered in your budget such as data going into the cloud or extracting data out. With month-to-month or on-demand consumption, you will pay more, but you can reach more economical models if you are prepared to make a fixed-term commitment.
When you’re evaluating a potential move from on-premise to the cloud, it’s important to include your future cost savings (i.e. technical staff that can be re-allocated) in addition to the direct cost of the solution. Also, consider your company size. Small and medium-sized customers may get more benefits from working with a cloud provider because they can’t get to the necessary economies of scale on their own.
There may also be some hidden costs. Don’t underestimate the lift to get there. It can go beyond the monthly commitment and can sometimes depend on the environment. If you’re fairly current and you have a moderately big window, everything may align and the lift to actually get there can be relatively painless. In some cases, the lift can be fairly big; it can be tight and take a lot of resources and multiple integrations. Make sure you’ve done your research.
At Mid-Range, we become the consultant and we ask customers those questions. Sometimes it makes them uncomfortable because they don’t know the answer, but not knowing doesn’t make it go away. If no one’s asking you those questions, then it’s not due diligence.
7. Investigate Your Backup and Recovery Solution
Another important point, especially in the IBM Power platform because it’s unique, is to confirm your backup and recovery solution. How easy is the restoration process? Are there a few options available? As a normal business function, a vendor’s recovery solution can be a differentiator in some cases. Although there could be some similarities in the process, the technologies deployed on-premise vs. the cloud will be different.
8. Understand Partial Licensing
One difference that is specific to the IBM Power platform in on-premise versus in a cloud, is the necessity of having to license by a full processor. When you migrate to a cloud, however, you can potentially take advantage of partial licensing because the cloud vendor may only charge you a portion. With on-premise, you can’t buy a part of a license. A cloud provider can give you a portion of a unit and that might be all you need. As a result, you have a little more granularity than you would have in an on-premise deployment. Sometimes that has an impact. The granularity of the sizing is one of the benefits of the cloud; the ability to take you up incrementally instead of only via big steps.
9. Verify Security Requirements
Generally, when you migrate to the IBM Power environment, your application security and all those things migrate with your environment. Whatever security you have within the system tends to stay with you when you restore the environment. However, it’s your external security, the next level outside the network security, that may need to be addressed because there could be cost implications. Your cloud provider may tell you that you need particular firewalls, which they will provide, and this is what it costs; you have no options. Other cloud providers may have more flexibility, where you can drop in your own firewall, which is probably what you’re used to doing and you can bring those rules with you.
The majority of the big cloud providers have a virtual software firewall. Mid-Range is a bit different. Because of our size, we have the flexibility to allow customers to take the same model and drop it in our data center if they’re used to using firewalls. It would look the same as they have always configured, whatever the hardware rules. We try to take the complexity out of that. We don’t force you to fit into our network model. Larger cloud providers tend not to offer that flexibility because they don’t want anybody else’s equipment in their data center.
While there are many benefits to migrating to the cloud, it pays to do your research and to prepare a well-thought-out plan. Interested in learning more? Visit our IT Services page to find the resources to help you with your next IT project.
Jeff is currently Vice President and General Manager, Mid-Range Computer Group Inc. Jeff has been working in the IT industry and related field for over 30 years. His role at Mid-Range oversees the development, sales, and operations of all the offerings and Service delivery within Mid-Range’s breadth of Services offerings including Datacenter, Hosting, Cloud, Managed Services, Professional Services, and Product sales.
Prior to this role, Jeff was a Senior Solutions Architect for Mid-Range for a 6 year period, preceded by a business development/recruitment role with an international IT distributor, and 10 years as a Solutions Architect and Team Lead at IBM.
Jeff holds the degrees of Bachelor of Engineering, and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA).
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