By now we’re all aware of the potential benefits of Hybrid IT. But knowing how to achieve an effective Hybrid IT environment is another thing altogether.

In this post I’m going to cover three potential routes to workload migration in a Hybrid IT environment – what they are, how they differ, and the pros and cons of each.

Which route you take depends on your specific end goals, of course. But hopefully once you’re done reading this you’ll at least be armed with enough knowledge to make an informed decision about how to approach the task.

Before you start…

I cannot stress enough the importance of carrying out a full audit of your existing datacentre before taking on any significant migration project.

Workload migration isn’t just a case of picking up a tool and going in blind. You have to do a certain amount of work up-front.

The audit is essentially a journey of discovery across your datacentre and all the services running within it – what they are and how they’re interacting with each other.

Through the audit you can determine which services you want to migrate, which ones you require and which you can decommission altogether.

And all these decisions need to be made with commercial and cost factors in mind.

The audit phase can take weeks, or even months. But ultimately it will ensure you get the best out of your Hybrid environment in the long run.

Once you’ve carried out your audit, the three potential routes to migration are:

  1. Lift and shift
  2. Revise and refactor
  3. DevOps transformation

Let’s take a look at each of those in more detail…

1. Lift and shift

This is by far the simplest approach. As the name suggests you are simply moving services from one environment to another.

Its simplicity means the lift and shift method is the easiest to understand and carry out.

It also means this approach is often cheaper in the short-term, so you can start to see its appeal.

But it does lack some of the deeper benefits that other migration approaches can provide. By simply moving something from one place to another you’re not really gaining a full understanding of the services within it.

You also won’t get some of the long-term benefits that something like revise and refactor can deliver, such as the ability to update workloads over time, or the increased agility that comes with a DevOps transformation.

  • Advantages: a simple, fast, low-cost approach
  • Challenges: only provides a limited view of services, lacks long-term benefits

2. Revise and refactor

This approach takes things one step further, enabling you to take advantage of specific services offered by the cloud and providing the ability to incorporate new technologies such as containers.

Revise and refactor is about taking your existing workload and effectively refactoring it or updating it to provide benefits such as increased performance, governance or manageability in the cloud.

You could also architect it into smaller components using a microservices architecture approach.

Say you have lots of services running in the same machine, for example – you could separate them out and then manage and monitor those services individually. This makes it much easier to scale in the long run.

  • Advantages: reduced long-term costs as you can run refactor applications for greater efficiency in the cloud. Transparency over the services that make up your workload. Easier to scale out services. Greater agility from the cloud.
  • Challenges: More costly and time-consuming. Not all workloads can be rearchitected easily without a complete rewrite of the code.

3. DevOps transformation

An extension of number two above, this is the most thorough migration approach of all, entailing a new philosophy for your applications environment. And it’s therefore the most complex.

But it ultimately enables you to increase agility by accelerating application release cycles from development to test to production.

DevOps transformation doesn’t just look at how you migrate your services – it’s about creating an autonomous environment in which you can easily build, test, release and maintain application workloads.

How do you model your stacks? How to you manage and monitor updates coming in from software, whether it’s third-party or in-house? How are you developing and pushing that software to the production environment you’ve just migrated?

It’s another level of sophistication, but in my view it does the best job of meeting the overall goal of any migration project: taking traditional (robust) IT and changing it into Fast IT.

  • Advantages: has the ability to bring the agile culture and processes of cloud-native companies like Netflix into your enterprise
  • Challenges: can be most expensive in the short-term and requires the biggest cultural change. Ultimately a much longer and more complex journey

Once you’ve migrated…

When you’ve carried out the audit phase and you’ve migrated your workloads using one of the above approaches (or perhaps a combination of all three), there’s only one thing left to do:

Test, test, and test again.

Want to know what IT leaders think about Hybrid? Check out our latest global research for lots more insight and analysis

James Weir

Words by

James Weir is CTO and co-founder of UShareSoft, recently acquired by the Fujitsu Group. He has over 15 years experience in operating systems and middleware, specializing in SaaS platforms, cloud computing and virtualization.

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