The Stack Archive

The Enterprise Cloud Q&A

Tue 24 Feb 2015 | Lee Field

lee-field-verizon[1]Lee Field, Head of IT consulting and complex solutions (APAC) at Verizon, discusses cloud migration and best practice for adopting disruptive solutions to drive efficiency and resilience.

What do you witness as the main motivator for cloud migration? And from within which industries do you see the strongest demand?

Many Enterprise organizations and Governments are adopting a ‘cloud first’ approach to the deployment of new IT-delivered services and applications, but few have a clean slate when it comes to these workloads. Unlike start-ups who, for the most part have become ‘cloud-native’ in their approach from development to delivery, legacy application estates affect Enterprise Organizations in different ways. Migration strategies are now maturing beyond their nascent Physical-to-Virtual or Virtual-to-Virtual server migrations into a much more application-centric approach more relevant to cloud delivery models.

The increasing maturity of these migration strategies combined with the desire to capitalize on the benefits from delivering cloud is motivating IT leaders to consider how existing applications could be made ‘cloud ready’ rather than embarking on an often costly and timely redevelopment.

The 2014 Verizon State of the Enterprise Cloud Market report showed that 65% of Enterprise’s are using Cloud, with 71% of Verizon Cloud users running production applications. The verticals that are leading in cloud usage are finance, retail & hospitality and manufacturing.

What are some of the specific steps an IT leader must take in order to migrate mission critical applications to the cloud?

It is critical that the service catalogue is up to date and accurate; if it is not already included, the business criticality of each application needs to be understood, classified and added to the catalogue. Then risk profiling based upon the criticality of the application can be applied. Verizon have spent a lot of time working with customers to classify criticality and risk then mapping these to services. Cloud isn’t always the answer and sometimes the best solution to meet the requirements is colocation and/or managed hosting.

Once the mapping of delivery models and services is complete, migration strategies should then be developed. These often vary, depending on the circumstances, from lift and drop migrations to software-assisted application virtualization methods. Detailed test plans – particularly for integration, user acceptance and performance testing – need to be completed. Projects are frequently delayed at this stage due to resource and labor requirements for documenting and completing the testing.

Never forget it is about moving the application or workload – NOT the server(s)!

What are the challenges faced by legacy IT companies migrating to cloud-based solutions?

Few legacies IT companies have had a consistent approach to cloud over the last five years. With many companies acquiring cloud organizations to ultimately deliver their services. It does look like the majority of legacy IT companies struggled to deliver innovation without resorting to acquisition to speed up time to revenue. Others have looked to enhance the functionality and improve enterprise integration of open source software to deliver their solutions using cloud delivery.

What are the challenges faced by Enterprise’s migrating legacy IT application to cloud based solutions?

Understanding application dependencies, or even usage patterns of an application, is normally the first challenge. Some examples of migration methodologies and their challenges are:

– Server migrations – Effectively a lift and drop from an existing physical or virtual server, the server is either imaged, an image exported from a virtualized environment or an existing snapshot loaded into a cloud service provider. Challenges here can include:

– Ability of the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) to support/monitor/manage the image
– Un-supported or un-optimized images can lead to performance or stability issues
– Links to dependent services or hard coded parameters frequently affect ease of migration
– Application/Data Migrations – Can include many different actual methods but all essentially allow for the migration of an application and/or data. This could include application/data restores from backup, use of migration tooling, application re-installs. Challenges include:

– Re-installs can be costly and take time. It’s important that the actual configuration is taken from the existing production estate, as it’s not unknown for undocumented changes to have crept into systems at some point.
– Data migrations are point-in-time; replicating data whilst testing occurs or performing the same migration to cut over can be complex.
– Migration tooling is often viewed as the simplest method, but can get costly, and is not necessarily required for all workloads.

Some fear that they are losing operational control around continuity and disaster recovery – so why should businesses have faith in cloud solutions?

The IT community has a long and successful track record regarding continuity and disaster recovery. My first senior role in IT was the implementation and operation design of a large ATM network for an Insurance organization at considerable expense. Not many years later it was replaced with a service provider-delivered managed MPLS solution. For the same organization I had input into the build and delivery of data centers that were on-premise, in-house owned and operated. They are not there now, and have been replaced with colocation environments from dedicated data center provider environments. The IT industry continues to evolve and cloud delivery models have had the possibly the fastest adoption rates in the industries history.

It is important to understand that the operate models do change, and how this impacts service and support delivery. Not adapting process, policies and procedures was the cause of cloud implementation friction in the early days, but it’s getting less so now.

How can a provider appease the security concerns of those considering cloud migration?

Security certainly is top of mind for those looking at migrating services to the cloud. The 2014 State of the Enterprise Cloud Report states that 40% of CxO’s in large enterprises indicate that ‘end-to-end’ security is their most important criteria when selecting a Cloud Service Provider. When selecting a Cloud Service Provider organizations should consider:

– Visibility – it’s important to have complete and current management information. Does the service provider offer operational dashboards? If not, can you integrate into existing operational management frameworks? If so, can it be automated?
– Vendor risk and Stability – Performing a complex cloud migration can be undone if there is any question of the vendor’s financial stability and appetite to be a long term option.
– Privacy and Compliance – this is particularly important if there are regulatory requirements; does the service provider meet all the required standards?

How have you seen attitudes change towards cloud?

At Verizon, we’ve seen some pretty big changes over the last four years, Cloud started out as one of the most hyped technologies in the industry. The technology is now living up to the hype, – delivering benefits back to the enterprise, helping companies innovate and changing the face of IT delivery. Cloud has lowered the barriers to market entry for startups and innovators at a rate unseen since adoption of the Internet itself. We are starting to see a bimodal approach to IT, split between delivery and agility. Agile IT is helping organizations focus on innovation, accelerating speed to market and delivering value and even revenue back to the business.

Based in Hong Kong, what trends are you seeing emerge in APAC cloud migration?

It’s really hard to generalize trends as being ‘APAC’ as there are so many markets at different levels of maturity and growth, what I am seeing across key markets include:

– Japan – One of the largest cloud markets in the region, with advanced levels of cloud adoption and serviced by regional, local and global cloud service providers. One key motivator for cloud adoption is primarily the simplification of delivery models to reduce unnecessary complexity, along with expanding service delivery to suit international and global growth plans outside of Japan.
– ANZ – Another large cloud market with regional, local and global cloud service providers. Trends emerging here include scaling IT delivery outside of the local market, increasing availability of services, addressing skills shortages and reducing operational cost.
– South East Asia – Huge growth markets with a consumer base that uses mobile as their primary internet access mechanism. This is leading to cloud delivery models that scale to address the mobile customer base. Singapore stands out as a leader, with the IDA providing clear guidance and the MAS issuing comprehensive policies.
– North Asia – Consolidation of regional delivery centers into Hong Kong has been a very typical use case that has emerged over the last few years and continues to increase in scale.

Experts featured:

Lee Field

Associate Director, Solution Architecture


Cloud feature Verizon
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