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As organizations go all in on the migration of apps from on-premises to hybrid and multi-cloud, IT continues to struggle with issues with the public cloud, including latency, waste, high cost, and complexity. The truth is, although enterprise IT professionals expected cloud to be quicker, easier, and cheaper they find themselves overpaying, overprovisioning, and having to manage and deploy through extreme complexity.

But there is some good news. 

First, with many years of experience, the experts have identified best practices across industries, business models and use cases–which can be put to good use as organizations continue their cloud journeys. 

Additionally, new technologies and approaches continue to emerge and evolve that can help organizations simply and effectively migrate and run their apps on hybrid and multi-clouds, while solving or mitigating some of the issues. 

For example, NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help you progress to the cloud without the need to redevelop or refactor your application: lifting and shifting your apps–the same format and same data you have running OnPrem–and easily move them anywhere in the cloud with any access protocols but provide you with one experience, simplifying your data and cutting your storage by up to 90%.

9 steps to hybrid cloud success

Here are 9 steps to securely and effectively move your applications from on-premises to the cloud so that you quickly achieve bottom-line impact and simplify management.

1. Recognize that this is the beginning of a long, interconnected process. 

Moving to the cloud, while prevalent, is not easy. It presents significant technical and business challenges, requiring new paradigms and tools, and lots of time, planning, effort and adoption. You must deal with legacy apps, data sovereignty, latency and different regulatory requirements, just for a start.

Most companies choose to adopt a hybrid, multi-cloud approach, merging the best of traditional and cloud solutions. The hybrid cloud journey has many stages and facets, all of which can be informed by the wisdom of enterprise IT experts and driven by multi-industry best practices covering cloud, DevOps and agile software development.

2. It all starts with strategy.

For many years, organizations generally pursued a "cloud-first" strategy (after abandoning the original, cybersecurity-motivated "never-cloud" sentiment). More recently, and perhaps more reasonably, the "purpose-fit-for-cloud" approach has gained traction. Decisions on which apps to move where will be based on a more strategic thought process, which would ideally be part of a comprehensive, holistic cloud strategy based on business needs, and coexist with a related plan to continuously mature their cloud capabilities to ensure increasing agility as the world, industries, markets and consumer demands keep shifting with the times.

The team or teams responsible for moving apps from on-premises to hybrid cloud should make sure they are attuned to and working closely with the network and security teams from this point forward. It is crucially important to make sure you can connect and move the apps you want to address before you start, and that you understand the security and compliance implications of the move to cloud. 

Learn more about WWT's Cloud Maturity Model.

3. Engage an experienced partner to help you from strategy to execution. 

Many organizations struggle to develop a strong cloud strategy–which is hardly surprising, given the complexity of the hybrid cloud journey and the large number of associated tools and services. Besides, organizations typically are newly learning on their cloud journey, while third-party vendors may have worked on thousands of cloud migrations across industries and with clients of all sizes and business models. Especially with the ever-increasing skills gap, you may want to consider engaging a partner.

If you do, make sure that they will play a consultative role in helping you develop your hybrid cloud strategy. Include them from the beginning, so you can be sure that they have all the information needed to help you get from vision to execution as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Also, validate that they have the experience and knowledge to help your organization advance quickly, as well as proven approaches and established programs that build on the best practices in repeatable, proven ways to get you the results you need.

WWT's Cloud Quick Start program, as an example, has helped numerous customers jumpstart their hybrid cloud journey so they reap the benefits far more quickly than they could have on their own. Quick Start is based on all the wisdom that WWT and the major cloud providers have gained throughout a multitude of migrations in all industries and situations over many years. It ensures rapid deployment with secure, best practices-driven and tested baselines, with built-in mechanisms for future expansion and customization. 

This type of program or approach can save you time, money and countless headaches as you go through the process.

4. Assess your situation and identify your cloud needs. 

As with many large initiatives, moving apps from on-premises into hybrid cloud should begin with a comprehensive assessment of where you are, where your business needs you to be, where your data resides, and a whole lot of other relevant topics. Out of all of this discussion, you will be able to determine the right process model for your organization.

For example, the first step within WWT's Cloud Quick Start framework is "Discovery". The discovery phase of any data movement is arguably the most important step of the journey. In this phase, you assess your existing on-premises environment from top to bottom, highlight applications or workloads that are "cloud-ready", and finally define a set of objectives and criteria that must be met prior to any data movement. Without this phase in the process, you would not know where to start with cloud.

5. Pick a technology path. 

Determine the tech that is right to meet your needs. You determine your criteria through a requirements assessment, analyzing issues like:

  • What kind of data retention do you need?
  • What governance and compliance policies do you need to enforce internally?
  • What's your DR plan?
  • What RTO's and RPO's do you need to achieve?
  • What timeframe is required for your recovery?

You will need to prioritize your criteria to determine which boxes you need to check, and which have the most relative importance. Identify two or three different technology paths that could meet your needs, and then compare them in terms of cost, cultural fit and other issues. Of course, you will want to test it out, which leads to the next step.

6. Do a POC and/or technology comparison. 

Once you've identified your options, you'll want to check it out, i.e., do custom proof-of-concept / proof-of-value deployments for testing, ideally in a way that recreates your actual environment and lets you fully experience the technology before you commit to buying it. This can happen in two ways: for hardware, you could test it at a technology lab, and for anything in the cloud, you could try it out in your own environment. If you choose to deploy in your own environment, you could give your engineers real, hands-on experience for 30 or 60 days, for example, so they develop a real feel for the experience.

When it comes to hardware, one of the values WWT brings to our customers, as an example, is our ATC (Advanced Technology Center), which has over 400 cabinets of equipment spread over 4 separate data centers on the WWT Tech Campus where our customers can get hands-on experience with the latest technologies. This helps them cut their POC time from months to weeks, develop confidence in their choice, and accelerate technology adoption. For cloud, our experts can help set up the POC in customers' own environments and walk them through it.

As you complete your POC, exploring features, function and performance sets, you can begin to develop your roadmap. You'll get a sense of how much you have and how long it will take to move it. At this point, you will also begin to get a better sense of cost. Many manufacturers and cloud providers offer basic pricing tools, even on their websites; a third-party partner can also help you determine cost and will often be able to bring discounted costs based on their relationships with the manufacturers.

7. Become confident in your cloud migration strategy. 

The previous steps will enable you to develop a well-rationalized roadmap, with established control and full understanding of organization needs for cloud success. At this point, you will begin to migrate data. 

Once you have completed your first app, you will find the subsequent apps getting easier. The process becomes "rinse and repeat." 

8. Transfer knowledge.

Typically, at least one or two engineers are involved with hybrid cloud projects from the beginning, working closely with the third-party partner, manufacturers and / cloud providers. By this time, they have experience and comprehension of how the new approach and technology works. Now, the bigger team will need to be trained, and knowledge transferred from third-party partners or others who usually step back at this point. Make sure you have completed a full knowledge transfer before letting the cloud experts step back.

9. Continuously improve to build more agility.

Now that you have done the big lift, you may want to consider two important actions for continuous improvement and increased agility.

  • Consider refactoring the apps you've moved. If you've done it right, you've already enjoyed some cost savings and simplification, but you can still do more. If you haven't done it already, now is the time to refactor for better outcomes.
  • Assess your cost optimization in the cloud and take actions to avoid sticker shock down the road. 

At this point, many organizations receive their first bill and experience sticker shock. Even if you've cut costs including storage, you may find other costs begin to spiral if you don't manage them closely. Make sure you prepare for the most common surprises and prepare to address them. Consider a cost optimization assessment–our clients see great results from the WWT assessment which helps clients manage cloud costs and avoid any nasty cost surprises.

Even the most successful move to hybrid cloud does not mean the work is over once the apps change their residence. Hybrid cloud is a fantastic way to prepare for your organization's future growth and success, yet it is a journey, not a destination.

Learn more about how NetApp and WWT create more flexibility across clouds.