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Journey To The Cloud

by Raji Pillay
October 29th, 2018

Do you need any governance?

What is the governance process in your organization, if any?  This is determined if your business and data needs to meet specific compliance and audit requirements. Eg: finance institutions need compliance approvals.

Production workload and the compliance around it can be determined by:

  • How you classify the data: public, private, confidential, highly-confidential
  • What is the criticality of the service (Cat a b c d)

Assessment needs to be completed in collaboration with compliance, risk and security architecture.

This is to get the ball rolling.

Now the ball is in your court – sort of.

Every cloud migration project is different. I have witnessed projects that do 30 migration in 30 days and projects that have taken months.

There are lessons I have learnt on the way. There are parameters that need to be considered on every project.

Lift and shift?

Determine if it is a lift and shift.  Which depends on a variety of parameters: budget, stability and most important – to answer the question: why are you doing this?

From a platform point of view, are you facing platform stability issues, licensing issues? Would your platform benefit from infrastructure upgrade?

It is an opportunity to consider the design. Yes, time and budget and your why will play a major role in answering these questions. But these questions need to be answered.

What’s new?

If you are introducing something new into your existing architecture, of course POC is important to see if it will help you with your functionality. At the same time performance, licensing, security and support model also needs to be considered.

Security a blocker?

I have heard AWS people say, “Security is Day 0”. It is.

Although if you ask anyone what is your biggest blocker? Security is right there at the top.

I choose to disagree.

The magic words: early engagement.

Have a security consultant involved with your team from the start. Run a security workshop wherein the entire team is educated on what you should start thinking about from a security point of view.

As a Business Analyst, I have ensured security is present at every grooming session and decisions are run past them.  As a result we were able to uncover differences early on.

Example: how are you managing certificates? How are you managing passwords? What about customer data in non-prod? What data needs to be masked? If some data cannot be masked – what exceptions or risks do you need to raise and get approved.

Take my word: these take time. And these issues are better uncovered at the start. This gives you time to analyse it and mitigate it.

Security is your friend. We need a mindset change when it comes to securing our applications and platform. Your application should not be in the news for the wrong reasons. You do not want to break your customers trust.

Security has become a golden word, whereas I believe it is time it becomes just another word like performance.

Aren’t you doing early performance testing?

Get your baselines ready. This will provide you a framework to compare against your new solution in the cloud. Start early performance testing.  Keep comparing against your baselines. You will be able to uncover performance, resilience and stability issues. Better performance or at the least comparable performance to your on-prem solution is what you should be striving for.

Utilize what cloud can offer. Make use of multiple zones and geographical redundancy. Make use of auto-scaling – horizontal and vertical. Embed monitoring into your applications.

Cloud provides you with tools to make this easier.

Isn’t it automated yet?

There is a reason you decided to move to the cloud. Operational ease should definitely be one of them.

Automate creation of your infrastructure in non-prod and prod environments – configuration management, user data, certificate management, encryption. Consider all of this.

Automate deployment of your code.

Integrate automated testing as part of your build pipeline.

Reduce manual intervention where you can.

Are you moving your database?

What gets more interesting is the work with database. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered.

What are you using for your database today?

Are you migrating to RDS?

If you are using oracle, you will not be able to make read replicas. Is your database read heavy?

Where do your reports run out of? If it is the same database or the secondary database – how are you going to implement that in production.

What is your migration strategy for database? How much downtime is acceptable for your application? This strategy will be defined by the size of your database, the downtime, the criticality.

Where are you hosting your infrastructure? Does it work with the same latency as today? If you are hosting in a zone which is farther from your on-prem datacentre, it can impact your performance. You will need to work out solutions to work around any latency.

Operational ease

Automation plays a major role in operational ease. Operation and maintenance should not be an afterthought.

Think about:

  • Monitoring and Alerting
  • Operational readiness
  • Do you need upskilling?
  • Disaster Recovery.
  • Chaos engineering – if you can.

Migrating to cloud is an exciting journey. If you are doing it for the first time, you will learn a lot. The challenges are proportionate to the complexity of your architecture.

But if you have decided to migrate, then architect it well. Make use of all the tools that cloud provides. It is an opportunity to make your platform more efficient and resilient. It is an opportunity to help your customers experience better performance. It will make life easier if done as right as possible.

I am passionate about technology and even as a young adult, wanted to be part of the information technology domain. I believe technology is like “Muggle” magic, and I take pride in playing a part. I love how technology helps solve business problems.

I have worn many hats in the technology domain for the past 12 years. Currently I am working as a Senior Tech BA within the DevOps world.

Raji Pillay

Senior Tech BA

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