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Migrating to The Cloud

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Course Description 

This module looks at the relationship between the cloud, DevOps and Agile ways of working, reflecting on the importance of the right application mindset and practices, before identifying the key considerations for migrating services to the cloud. 


Learning Objectives 

The objectives of this course are to provide you with and understanding of: 

  • What DevOps is and the importance of the right development mindset. 
  • The role DevOps and cloud computing play in business transformation and their link to agile ways of working. 
  • The primary technical security implications and controls for cloud computing. 
  • The key stages to migrate services in the cloud. 
  • The primary considerations for keeping cloud services up to date. 


Intended Audience 

The course is aimed at anybody who needs a basic understanding of what the cloud is, how it works and the important considerations for using it. 



Although not essential, before you complete this course it would be helpful if you have a basic understanding of server hardware components and what a data center is.  



We welcome all feedback and suggestions - please contact us at qa.elearningadmin@qa.com to let us know what you think. 


Cloud Centre of Excellence 

For most organizations, the speed of change is the most difficult part of the cloud journey, and this is often accelerated by an agile mindset and DevOps culture. 


So, while technology plays a leading role, perhaps the hardest part of that transition is helping the people change their mindset and approach, and this is what a Cloud Centre of Excellence supports.  


According to the Cloud Management Report, A Cloud Centre of Excellence is: 


‘A cross-functional team of people responsible for developing and managing the cloud strategy, governance, and best practices that the rest of the organization can leverage to transform the business using the cloud. The Cloud Centre of Excellence leads the organization as a whole in cloud adoption, migration, and operations. 


Organizations that set up a Cloud Centre of Excellence tend to have more successful migrations than those who don't. It might not be called a Cloud Centre of Excellence – it might actually be a third-party consultancy that’s been brought in to help with the migration – but there should be a team or unit in the organization that’s responsible for defining the ways things should work and be governed, and generally provide prescriptive guidance to teams who are performing migrations.  


As you can see here, the Cloud Centre of Excellence has a key role to play in defining the structure and operations, evaluating the technologies being used, defining the governance processes and continually ensuring the services are meeting the business objectives.  


But, just as important, is its role in ensuring that members of the team, and the wider organization, are acting differently, innovating, collaborating and feel like they’re empowered to work in an agile way. 


The Cloud Centre of Excellence should maintain a knowledgebase of lessons learnt and new best practices as workloads are migrated. As the organization achieves greater maturity within the cloud, the Cloud Centre of Excellence's role develops into more of a consultancy one. 


Migrating to the cloud 

You’ll need to follow a robust process for migrating to the cloud and this will be driven by the Cloud Centre of Excellence. Here are a few pointers on how you can take the first steps: 


Start somewhere 

The first thing is to work out what to start on – the proof of concept. Organizations will take different approaches to the first project; some might choose to tackle something relatively simple like a static marketing website just to gain familiarity, whereas others might choose a more complex implementation to encounter and resolve a wider set of challenges. 


Start training 

Individuals involved in the initial migration will need training before they start, and this will include members of the IT Team and end users. This is often where migrations fail – the technology is good but the users don’t understand it or how to deal with the change. It's critical to complete the training early in the migration process. 


Start migrating 

Different projects will need different approaches to migration. Amazon have defined the ‘6 Rs’ to reflect the range of approaches: 

  • Re-host or ‘lift and shift’. This means reproducing the current in-house set-up in the cloud. It’s likely to be the simplest and quickest approach but will see the fewest benefits. If an organizations needs to urgently migrate lots of servers in one go, this might be a good initial approach, but the operation should be optimized after the migration; 

  • Re-platform means ‘lift and re-shape. It’s similar to re-hosting but might involve migrating from an application or operating system version that isn't supported in the cloud, like Unix for example. This approach will need more effort than a re-host; 

  • Repurchase or ‘drop and shop’ which is replacing the application with a commercial, off the shelf one or a SaaS application. For example, replacing a customer relationship management system developed in-house with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This approach requires effort to get the data across to the new application, possibly customizing the application to meet the organization’s needs more closely and training the end-users how to use it; 

  • Refactor is known as ‘code and load’. It means rewriting the application so it can use the features and services of the cloud platform that it’s being moved to. This will clearly take more time than the other approaches but should lead to the obtaining more benefit from the cloud; 

  • Retain or ‘keep and weep’ is where an application can’t be migrated because it uses proprietary hardware, the data is deemed too sensitive or perhaps the application will stop being used in six months’ time. In any case, it’s not worth the effort of migrating; and 

  • Retire or ‘drop and stop. During the discovery process, the organization might find out that no-one’s actually using this application so it can simply be shut down. 


It's worth noting that any given project might use several of these approaches in one migration; perhaps the backend database is re-hosted, the application server running on Unix is re-platformed and the frontend servers are refactored. 


You’re in the cloud – what now? 

So, you’ve migrated to the cloud, what do you need to think about now? Let’s briefly look at three areas; staying current, maintaining operations and optimization. 


Stay current 

The cloud changes – all the time. Whatever platform or platforms an organization ends up using, services and features are constantly being added, improved and updated.  


Individuals responsible for cloud operations need to keep up to date by maintaining an industry knowledge and close contact with the cloud provider. All cloud providers publish regular updates about their platforms, so it's worth subscribing or at least regularly checking out the news. 


Maintaining operations 

And what about maintaining operations? 


In the cloud, data center and hardware maintenance is a thing of the past, but systems still need to be maintained – things like configuring and patching operating systems, configuring backups, database administration, and managing network and user security.  


All systems and resources need to be monitored of course but because the cloud is programmable, many of these tasks can be automated. Think about a monitoring system which detects that a server is misbehaving; the server can be automatically quarantined for a root cause analysis and replaced.  


An organization will be responsible for more or less maintenance depending on the type of service they use. For example, an organization with only a Software as a Service model will need to do less maintenance than one using an Infrastructure as a Service model – if they don’t manage any servers, they can’t be responsible for patching them. 



Operating in the cloud doesn’t necessarily mean being optimized for the cloud.  


After migration, opportunities to optimize the hardware and services is an ongoing task as the way the organization uses the services and their business evolves. This might mean swapping out virtual machines for managed services or determining what can be automated and how this should be done.  


Knowing the relative costs and price models for different services is important, as well as understanding how services can be used in different ways to make them more cost-effective. A good approach is to go back to the ‘6Rs’ to see if any of the approaches will help optimize the services – perhaps through re-platforming or refactoring. 



There’s more information about how to approach a cloud migration in the ’10 steps to a successful cloud migration’ guide, and an interesting case study on Capital One’s cloud migration journey. You’ll find links in the Cloud Literacy Resources. 

About the Author
Daniel Ives
Head of Learning - Cloud and Principal Technologist – Amazon Web Services
Learning Paths

Daniel Ives has worked in the IT industry since leaving university in 1992, holding roles including support, analysis, development, project management and training.  He has worked predominantly with Windows and uses a variety of programming languages and databases.

Daniel has been training full-time since 2001 and with QA since the beginning of 2006.

Daniel has been involved in the creation of numerous courses, the tailoring of courses and the design and delivery of graduate training programs for companies in the logistics, finance and public sectors.

Previous major projects with QA include Visual Studio pre-release events around Europe on behalf of Microsoft, providing input and advice to Microsoft at the beta stage of development of several of their .NET courses.

In industry, Daniel was involved in the manufacturing and logistics areas. He built a computer simulation of a £20million manufacturing plant during construction to assist in equipment purchasing decisions and chaired a performance measurement and enhancement project which resulted in a 2% improvement in delivery performance (on time and in full).