To The Cloud - The Allure Of The "Lift And Shift"
I've been helping a number of customers migrate to the cloud and the allure of the "lift and shift" is so stubbornly enticing...
All of them have long since moved from individual physical servers to a consolidated datacenter model using VMWare or Hyper-V, but data center consolidation, driven mostly by efficiency, hasn't spurred a fundamental paradigm shift as migrating to the cloud has.
With that, I don't discount the amazing wins of on premise data center consolidation, from lower power consumption, high availability features, more flexibility, and many more; however, an inflection point has arrived with the advent of shared cloud services.
As you move through the curve of On Premise / Infrastructure As A Service (IaaS) / Platform As A Service (PaaS)/ Software As A Service (SaaS) (see below) it's tempting to simply decide to take current on premise infrastructure and VMs and simply "lift and shift" them to Amazon Web Services or Azure as a pure Infrastructure as a Service play. While this solves certain problems long associated with the headache of managing on-premise data centers including hardware maintenance, power issues, cooling issues, connectivity issues, among others; it takes leadership to pause, take stock, and decipher your application portfolio and conduct a Cloud Readiness Assessment to determine which apps should convey in their legacy form and which should be re-engineered to take full advantage of the new shared services paradigm.
Don't forget, the journey to the cloud is one that's full of choices. Ultimately, various types of cloud services will certainly occupy your portfolio with IaaS (Infrastructure As A Service) continuing to maintain a spot for legacy apps that are feature rich or costly to re-engineer. Start by "lifting and shifting" your on premise infrastructure and take immediate advantage of fully managed virtualization, servers, storage, and networking. But don't stop there. Don't fall for the allure of the simple "lift and shift"... there's more!
Other apps should be re-engineered to benefit from the efficiency, scalability, and decreased headache that PaaS has to offer. Offload everything except management of your data and applications and focus on what really matters. Free yourself from the grind of OS maintenance.
Also, it's likely that 95% of your business isn't particularly unusual or special with 5% of what you do responsible for your uniqueness (competitive advantage). Do you maintain customer data? Do you maintain inventory? Do you forecast sales? Do you manage and allocate budgets? Guess what, you aren't alone and this fuels a burgeoning SaaS community where you can focus exclusively on configuring and using software designed for common business needs and tailored based upon hundreds or thousands of similar customers all feeding into the feature request pipeline.
Don't fall for the allure of the "lift and shift"! It's easy to simply offload VMs to the cloud and requires little to no re-training of technology staff. It's often an easy sell to management who tend to be averse to change. It does realize some great immediate returns BUT the long term potential of re-engineering your most important apps to take advantage of PaaS or considering adopting some SaaS products will pay dividends in efficiency, scalability, and agility for your company.