Moving a database to the cloud is risky without proper planning and due diligence
As the cloud welcomes more and more organisations, shifting their enterprise computing out of on-premises models for the promise of a faster, more scalable, and less expensive environment, the need for database migration only becomes more urgent.
While moving a database to the cloud can bring a plethora of benefits, there are also obstacles and risks that occur if a business makes this move without the proper planning and due diligence. Indeed, the risks of database cloud migration are far greater than moving one within a data centre or from one on-premises data centre to another and can easily outweigh its many benefits if an organisation is unprepared for the move.
So, how can businesses ensure a smooth database cloud migration? Let's run through some of the key challenges of database cloud migration, and how IT professionals can overcome these to empower their businesses to experience the full potential of the cloud.
Challenges of database cloud migration
There are several obstacles that typically occur when migrating a database to the cloud. It's vital IT pros are prepared to leap over these hurdles to ensure the results are achieved.
The good news is with sufficient planning these obstacles are surmountable. The even better news is the benefits of cloud migration are well worth the hours of preparation it takes to overcome them. But first, let's look at the key challenges of database cloud migration.
- Time and money are both casualties of database cloud migration, with the process often requiring more of these resources than on-premises migrations
- No assumptions can be made by your database application when it comes to cloud migration, especially with regards to low-latency networks
- Nullifying cloud benefits is a real risk of a poorly planned migration, while failing to adequately prepare for the process could mean the project is doomed to fail, and its potential remains unfulfilled
- Bridging the skills gap is a necessity during a cloud migration, with organisations likely needing to develop or acquire new skills in cloud technologies, security, and enterprise architecture to ensure the benefits of the migration are realised
Tips for database cloud migration
A thorough migration plan can be key to ensuring an effective shift to the cloud, and by carrying out in-depth research and the right preparation, organisations can enjoy greater success.
Here are some best practice tips and cloud database migrations steps to help IT professionals better plan and achieve a smoother move to the cloud.
- Define goals. Every business is different and will want different things from their database cloud migration. With this in mind, we recommend setting a list of high-level business goals, enabling the establishment of important ground rules, helping IT pros to choose the appropriate technology for the migration, and to gather the right team members for the job.
- Establish priorities. Once goals are set, it's important to prioritize each step of your migration. For example, your first port of call may be to establish what level of performance and business continuity requirements are needed for your database once it's in the cloud. Regardless of the way you tackle your migration, you should draw up a short overview and prioritisation of your goals, including an assessment of the costs and benefits of each, before coming to a decision on whether your organisation should proceed.
- Assess your migration. Once you've made the decision to migrate, it's important to evaluate your plan for any risk factors or flaws. To do this, you'll need to fully understand your on-premises database environment, data dictionary, and data assets, and collect performance benchmarks so you have quantitative evidence of what good performance looks like post-migration. Then, it's vital to plan your cloud "landing zone," so you can properly reproduce or even exceed the functionality of your current database estate. This will help identify and address any issues before you execute the migration.
- Execute and monitor. With the foundations you've laid down in previous steps, it's unlikely execution will throw up any nasty surprises, and there are various point tools available to move data and databases for both turnkey migrations and phased migrations. Of course, you'll need to keep a close eye on the execution process and ensure everything is running as expected. Once the migration has taken place, it's important to monitor database performance closely to ensure customer expectations are met, or even better, exceeded.
- Cut to production. At this final stage before going live, an organisation's line-of-business subject-matter experts should have performed detailed verifications of the database and application. It's again unlikely issues will arise given the preparation already carried out but evaluate whether any last-minute changes do need to be made, and then decommission your previous system.
By following these steps, IT pros and their businesses can overcome the challenges threatening a smooth database cloud migration and reap the rewards the process promises.
Sascha Giese is Head Geek™ at SolarWinds