Moving to a public cloud - the preliminary steps

Hetz Ben-Hamo
Cloud Migration
June 9, 2020

Imagine a simple situation: You have 20 (physical) servers in the company that runs on vSphere system. Everything is ticking and working well, until one day the person in charge of vSphere at the company, is fired for some reason. Would it be difficult to find a replacement for the same job? Not really, it all depends what your expectations are: If, for example, the person who was laid-off was writing scripts in Powershell or PERL for vSphere automation and most of the work would have been done in some automation without the use of a GUI - then yes, you would have trouble finding a replacement (and even if you will find, you'll have to pay him a lot more than you thought). If, on the other hand, you are looking for someone to manage only at the Web interface, you will find quite a few of these easily and you can even pay them a lower salary (depending on your negotiating skills and candidate confidence). On the other hand, if you have bugs that are characterised by a purple screen and Google does not really help - get ready to pay and a lot, whether it is for VMware or an expert.

Let's move on to another situation: Assume we have a number of physical servers, and the company wants them to be in the cloud. They've already chosen a cloud provider, and they're also, more or less, aware of the prices they'll pay for the cloud (or at least they seem to be) - will it be hard for them to find someone to move the servers to the cloud? Definitely not. At least a third of readers of this blog will be happy to offer such a service. You will come to an agreed price, sign here and there, and work begins at your convenience.

"Copy-Paste" method

‍What exactly is the job that the majority will offer and do? They will do what I call "Copy Paste". Suppose there are 10 VMs, they will simply upload them to the cloud as Instances, assign them external IPs per Instance (you will be surprised how unprofessional it gets), set up Security Group that could let an aircraft carrier through, but God forbid if there’s a new and normal VPC, or a little tougher routing. If the client insists on Firewall, then you will install something that exists in the market with very "slack" rules. I'm not trying to "diss", it’s all because I'm usually the one who comes afterwards to check out why things aren't working well, and that's what I find. Of course, I am not saying that everyone is like that, there are quite a few professional people in the field.

Compared to others, things are a bit different for me, and the first thing I emphasise to the customer is that a public cloud provider (not ‘toy clouds’) is not a hosting provider. Yes, it is technically possible to upload the VMs to the cloud and do what some integrators do, but that would be a mistake.

In moving the infrastructure to the cloud, we have 3 important goals:

• Lowering the price per machine

• Getting higher performance

• More adequate protection.

If we are going to upload VMs, it will be necessary to do these three things for every VM. We will need a serious "toolbox" and to start analysing or optimising the machine and see what it runs, versus the services that the chosen public cloud provider offers. We will cut down on the unnecessary hard disks, optimise if needed and only once we are satisfied with the size and performance and we conclude that it actually needs to be in the cloud – do we then upload it.

But wait a minute

‍It’s not certain that we will mount VM machines. Public cloud providers offer their customers a huge range of services that mitigate the need for VMs as well as all kinds of additional tools that are needed to meet high loads. For example, taking the container issue as a replacement for most VMs in the local infrastructure - the container infrastructure can grow much faster than the VM machine infrastructure, and the number of containers increases / decreases without the need for human intervention. We also won't need all kinds of file servers, because there is a service that offers this and does a much better job than any commercial store and is really inexpensive (again, in the case of AWS).

This way, you can reach the point that instead of "throwing" X number of VMs into the cloud, you can optimally plan everything from scratch and utilise current technologies to get higher performance as well as pay a lower price and of course - much more serious and modern security, and not just blocking ports in the Firewall.

There will of course be some who say it is a more expensive process and that would be true, but on the other hand, after the setup process, the monthly payment will be cheaper and the infrastructure will be more secure than the "throwing VM machines into the cloud" method.

To conclude

‍There are all kinds of cloud providers, all kinds of offers, and all kinds of suggestions on how to migrate to the cloud. It is important not to join the "herd" method and do things so that you get a secure infrastructure, high speed and a good price.

Hetz Ben-Hamo

Consultant and expert on cloud, virtualisation, Linux, storage and more

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