Enterprise public cloud computing has been a staple service south of the border for a number of years, but privacy and security regulations in Canada have prevented many Canadian enterprise organizations from launching into the public cloud – until now.
Powered by Openstack, AURO is Canada’s first 100% enterprise public cloud that is SSAE 16 compliant, with full API controls. Their service is a welcome one for some enterprise organizations that have been restricted up to this point from leveraging the benefits of the public cloud. For others, the cloud is still an uncertain environment, fraught with unanswered questions, especially about exactly how complex a migration truly is and where they should start.
What are the benefits of launching into the cloud?
Two of the top reasons organizations move to the cloud are cost reduction and avoidance of long-term investment. Traditional IT infrastructures represent a three- to five-year commitment to a lot of hardware, facilities to store it and people to operate it, which can be capital intensive. With the cloud, however, the hardware, facilities and resources essentially disappear.
Add to that the fact that organizations can shift the cost from a capital expense to an operating expense, freeing up cash to spend on other things, and the financial gains become even more apparent.
Other key benefits? Agility and increased speed to market. Many organizations today are adopting DevOps to help keep their apps online 24 hours a day, automating regular updates and upgrades, which reduces operating costs by eliminating the resources required to do the work, and also ensures the applications can be deployed immediately and continuously.
Using a traditional IT infrastructure built on a vertical framework doesn’t give companies the agility to grow and expand whenever and wherever they need to. Enter the cloud. It eliminates the set-in-stone nature of the vertical stack with a flexible, agile, horizontal framework. Suddenly, organizations can deploy limitless packets of information, expanding and modifying their applications at will, with the potential to provide strategic advantage with every release.
Public, private or hybrid?
Some enterprise organizations prefer the comfort level and sense of control they have from a private cloud solution, which gives them access to the cloud, but also to all the hardware. Others are motivated by changes in the market, customer needs, or process reorganizations to launch completely into the public cloud, which requires a rethinking of their IT infrastructure.
Still others start in the private cloud and move applications on a case-by-case basis into the public cloud – or, because they are reluctant to or prevented by industry regulations from moving all their applications into the public cloud – creating a hybrid solution.
Many hybrid users, however, quickly come to see the benefits of being able to build out in scale and spin up virtual machines in the cloud, when usage increases, for example, and come to view the downside costs of managing and maintaining the hardware as a key reason to move more and more into the public cloud environment.
How do I make the move?
There are four main stages for onboarding applications to a cloud environment:
- Business planning: Why is your company making the move to the cloud now? What is driving the change? Like any significant business initiative, you need to have a full understanding of your motivation, along with leadership and key stakeholder engagement, or the project can stall and go nowhere.
- IT preparation: Which applications/containers/workloads do you want to move to the cloud and what are all the parts associated with each, for example the application itself, monitoring, networking, compute, storage, support, SLAs, and uptime requirements? This step entails a full analysis of each application/container/workload to determine how “cloudy” or cloud-worthy it is, i.e., what do you need to do to get it ready to move over to the new cloud environment, how long will it take, how much will it cost, and do the benefits outweigh the investment of time and resources?
- Implementation: Now that the hard work of planning and preparation is done, you need to make each application/container/workload cloud-ready. This includes ensuring it is written in a programming language that can easily be transferred and that its structure lends itself well to the horizontal framework of the cloud. It also includes determining when you will discontinue your old environment, and turn on the new cloud environment.
- Testing/validation: In this stage, you need to do careful due diligence to ensure the migration of each application/container/workload to the cloud occurred accurately and meets your goals. You will need to test and validate to make sure everything works and that there is no missing data, because no one knows your application/container/workload better than you.
What do I need to keep in mind?
Moving to the cloud requires switching to a different mindset. The cloud is designed to fail (allowing you to fail safely), so there is no need for backup or disaster recovery strategies. If one server fails, there are multiple layers of redundancy built in so there is always another server online to take its place. This represents a radical shift in perspective. Traditional hardware exists as vertical stacks with limited horizontal capability. The cloud, on the other hand, is limitless, which can be a challenging perspective for some companies or IT managers to wrap their heads around.
No solution is 100 percent – and the cloud is no exception. It’s close, in fact AURO guarantees 99.95 percent uptime, but the cloud is not perfect.
Today, any application/container/workload can be migrated to the cloud. Some may take longer, however, depending on the size, complexity, how much of the code needs to be changed, or how long the business planning stage takes. A single application/container/workload can take anywhere from one week to several months to migrate to the cloud.
Canadian enterprise organizations have waited years for the opportunity to leverage the cloud for greater agility, performance and financial benefit. They now have the chance to use the public cloud to make strategic changes to benefit their customers, key stakeholders and bottom lines.
Matt McKinney is Chief Strategy Officer at AURO, Canada’s first true enterprise public cloud built on Openstack. AURO is committed to privacy and data protection for its customers in Canada and around the world, giving them the ability to meet the most stringent ongoing compliance needs and integrate legacy IT environments, with the best support available.