Six ways to future-proof your cloud migration

By: Dmitry Kazak

Published: February 2022

Cloud migration continues to be at the top of agendas as organizations prioritize business agility, decreasing costs, and increasing operational efficiencies. Based on the complexity of an organization’s tech stack and the scope of their migration, it may look like a quick and straightforward exercise to lift and shift existing servers into the cloud. However, while it may be tempting to prioritize speed, a lift and shift migration will only deliver a fraction of the value promised by the cloud. This is why we always advocate for a carefully considered migration.

A well-planned migration can be a perfect opportunity for your organization to build a foundation for future cloud needs, which naturally increase with time. In fact, by 2025, Gartner estimates that over 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms, up from 30% in 2021.

So, how do you take the right approach for your organization? 

In this article, we use a customer scenario to discuss six often overlooked, key pieces of cloud architecture that are critical to realizing immediate value, maximizing ROI, and cementing the long-term success of your cloud-native organization.

Example scenario: As we go through these considerations, let’s imagine you are a technology leader of a medium sized company. You have a large suite of web applications and services, hosted in a data center, with multiple teams supporting them, including infrastructure, network, security, and IT. Your complex network infrastructure includes firewalls, VPNs and load balancers, and you have internal processes and procedures to control changes and ensure the security of your environment.

1. Organizing your cloud resources and services

Resource organization is one of the key design areas that should be considered to ensure separation of concerns, security isolation and scalability, which would allow you to get to market faster with your future cloud engagements as well as better track operational costs.

A cloud providers’ recommended best practices can help you decide on the best approach. For example, one of the options within Microsoft Azure is defining a hierarchy of management groups and subscriptions, which can be used to isolate your common supporting infrastructure and cloud services, as well as the landing zones for your workloads based on whether they are internal or customer facing.

2. Defining your cloud operating model

Migrating to the cloud also means the management and maintenance of the environment shifts from having to support the physical infrastructure, to managing the digital cloud assets so they meet business demands. As such, cloud migration provides an opportunity to revisit your operating model, optimize it and adapt it to the cloud. 

In our example scenario, one approach would be to implement centralized management of specific concerns to keep each team focused on what they do best, allowing easy access control while adhering to the principle of least privilege. This also increases scalability by following a consistent security baseline, which in turn allows you to get to market faster with your future cloud workloads.

3. Aligning cloud management and monitoring design with your operating model

A cloud platform provides many out-of-the-box tools and services to help maintain control and visibility of your environment as well as provide insights into your cloud resources. Achieve peak performance from your teams and reduce operational costs by carefully considering your approach to how and where these tools and services should be deployed. 

In our example scenario, a suitable option would be to centralize operations, where these tools and services are deployed to a central location (e.g. a separate subscription in Microsoft Azure). This would align well with centralized IT teams, increasing their efficiency, as well as introduce economies at scale and reduce both operational complexity and costs by utilizing shared services and standard controls across all workloads.

4. Establishing your cloud security perimeters and connectivity

Enterprise-level cloud environment often requires secure connectivity to on-premises or office environments, as well as host customer-facing applications and services. If that is the case, as part of your network topology and connectivity design, consider implementing perimeter networks to address the connectivity requirements different workloads may have while keeping them secure. Based on the complexity of your enterprise environment, one of the common approaches is isolating your perimeter networks from the rest of your cloud environment by following a hub and spoke pattern where a “hub” is the only network that communicates with the outside world and provides the connectivity back to the “spoke” networks. This would help further strengthen the security of your cloud environment and reduce operational costs.

 5. Establishing your cloud security and governance baseline

Having the proper governance in place will help you stay on top of your compliance requirements and keep your environment in control and protected from security threats. Whether you need to keep granular and flexible access control to your cloud environment, meet business compliance and security requirements, or ensure resource consistency and control costs, consider defining the standards and policies to be enforced and monitored in your cloud environment. 

6. Aligning to an established reference architecture 

Most cloud vendors and cloud consulting services provide guidance, best practices and reference architectures that can be used as a starting point for design decisions. Aligning to a reference architecture allows you to accelerate your cloud adoption, ensure you are using proven design best practices and have initial governance guardrails. For example, Microsoft Azure provides a complete enterprise-scale reference architecture as part of their Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF). As a Microsoft Gold partner we at Assembly have a deep understanding of CAF and can use our knowledge and experience to help you with your cloud migration.

Getting started is simple.

Take a moment to think about your long-term goals. Do you see your organization increasing its cloud presence? Do you need to be ready for future cloud initiatives? Are you able to increase your initial investment to maximize long-term ROI? 

If so, then consider allowing yourself time to address these six critical pieces of cloud architecture. They will help you get the most out of your cloud migration and set your organization up for the future - which undoubtedly lies in the cloud. 

At Assembly, we have a proven track record of planning and executing cloud migrations, so we know exactly how to make yours a success. Ready to get started? Read more about our Cloud Migration services, or get in touch.