Clouds as an escape from earthly woes
Simple steps to migrate to the cloud
In the face of global change, many of our customers are wondering about business continuity. In this article, we will try to explain the role of cloud technologies in this process and share our own experiences of using them.
The key element of a modern enterprise’s business continuity is the quantity and quality of mobile capabilities it has — the more and the better they are, the easier and cheaper it is to adapt to change. “Mobile” capability is not in the sense of “portable”, but in the sense of “not tied to a physical location”.
For example, a war or another disaster may require the ability to move IT infrastructure to a new location. The cloud allows to expand the range of options available to an enterprise, as it provides a set of ready-made solutions for a wide variety of use cases.
Companies that only use their own or leased equipment from hosting providers are generally limited by the capabilities and physical location of that equipment. Increasing these capabilities requires planning and significant expense. However, the reverse process is usually not possible. Such companies sooner or later resort to migrating their infrastructure to the cloud.
Cloud migration (cloud virtualization) is the process of moving data, applications or other business elements from your own or leased on-premises physical infrastructure to the cloud, i.e. to a global provider of distributed computing resources.
Successful migration: where do you start?
Because every company is unique in its own way, there is no one-size-fits-all migration process. The sequence and number of steps required depend largely on migration objectives, types of systems and data, regulatory requirements, and other factors.
However, there are common elements of a migration strategy:
- an assessment of performance and security requirements;
- competencies and other factors that influence the choice of cloud service provider;
- ensuring compliance with laws, regulations and standards;
- taking inventory of assets;
- calculating your return on investment.
Key benefits of cloud migration
The trend to move to the cloud is driven by innovation, cost savings, scalability, digital transformation, and ease of management.
Let’s take a closer look at the key benefits of virtualization:
Innovation. In the fast-paced IT world, migrating to the cloud allows you to keep up with the times. What’s more, moving to the cloud gives you an additional competitive edge in the marketplace and allows you to adapt quickly to current changes. Moreover, it makes it easier than ever to launch and test the viability of start-ups and other innovative projects for today’s business needs.
Cost-effectiveness. One of the most common reasons to migrate to the cloud is to reduce IT infrastructure costs. The cost of services in the cloud is usually calculated based on the workload (e.g. $1 per day or per hour for a server of a given capacity). So you only pay for the computing resources you use for your business needs. Moreover, with many cloud providers, you do not pay while your server is stopped, and you can start it when you need it in half a minute.
Flexibility. Another benefit of migrating to the cloud is flexibility. This translates into ease of scaling and configuring resources. Through a web interface, you can easily change the amount of RAM and CPU capacity of your servers. This saves you time, and you don’t have to plan the workload all the time.
Reliability. With advanced technologies and controls, cloud computing mitigates a lot of information security risks. In addition, virtual data centres perform regular data backups, provide easy and quick disaster recovery, and promote business continuity.
There are other benefits of moving your infrastructure to the cloud, and they vary from company to company. Overall, the above arguments for migrating to the cloud can provide the impetus to take the first steps towards your organisation’s digital transformation.
As a geographically distributed team, we allocated our infrastructure in the cloud from the start. This allowed us to avoid worrying about hardware purchases, network configurations and other issues related to the use of our equipment.
The Hetzner cloud was our initial choice as one of the most popular, simple, and low-cost solutions. Our links with German industry and the traditional German quality also played a role in this decision. For a long time we were happy with the range of possibilities offered by this provider, but as our company grew we encountered some limitations.
Firstly, Hetzner only supports Linux servers. This limitation wasn’t insurmountable for us. When we needed to set up a temporary Windows server in this cloud, we developed our custom solution, but we don’t recommend such methods if you want to keep the top quality and reliability.
Secondly, the server backup service offered in the Hetzner cloud does not allow you to set up your own system backup schedule and is quite expensive (20% of the server’s cost). As a result, we resorted to internal scripts of our own design to back up the information.
Apart from these reasons, we experienced a number of other constraints, which increased as we grew . Therefore, at a certain point we decided to migrate to Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud, which offers a much wider range of services.
The first thing we did was to migrate our test environment, which was a Linux-based server, a server management system, and a test version of our website.
We could have used AWS Server Migration Service to migrate the server to AWS automatically, but we needed to replace the server management system with a more modern alternative, so we decided to install all components from scratch and migrate the current configuration step by step. At the same time, we wanted to improve the internal automation mechanisms based on Ansible.
We considered Amazon Lightsail as a way to build the right infrastructure, but quickly realized that the typical architecture offered by the service was not suitable for us. The reason for this was that we were using a separate server management system, which would not have been available in this case. As a result, we deployed the EC2 and RDS instances directly, then used Ansible to install and configure the required components. Thanks to the Infrastructure As Code approach, we ensured that the newly-created server was almost exactly the same as its ancestor, and significantly reduced deployment time.
We particularly enjoyed combining the capabilities of different clouds, developing hybrid integrations and solutions, and adapting clouds to everyday traditionally non-cloud tasks. Including the case of weak communication channels. We manage to combine different cloud resources and derive the best from Google, AWS, Microsoft, Hetzner and DigitalOcean services. In a future article, we will talk about our experience with Google Workspace in combination with AWS S3, Windows and Linux.
Leave the task to us
Migrating to the cloud is a fairly complex and time-consuming process that requires certain resources in the form of knowledge and skills. Only an experienced professional can successfully and completely implement the process of moving your business to the cloud.
Our professionals will be happy to help you migrate your services and data to the cloud. We’ll take into account your storage architecture and the cloud solutions you’re interested in.
Maintaining cloud systems is far easier than migrating to the cloud. But even here, our customers often come to us for help, and we’re happy to help.
Considering a migration to the cloud? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help.