Cloud migration best practices: Preparing for change

When the moment comes that you decide it’s time to move your business to the cloud: rejoice! As my favorite Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi once said, “You’ve just taken your first step into a larger world.”

Your deciding factor to make the move might have been any number of things:

  • Cost
  • Need for growth
  • Flexibility
  • Keeping up the competition
  • Security
  • Productivity

But adapting your business for success in the cloud isn’t the easiest nut to crack. Some might think of it the way they would about moving from an old house to a new one: cram everything into a box, make the move, unload in your new digs, and enjoy.

While that last part will likely come true once you’ve made a successful transition to hosting your business in the cloud computing environment, the pre-move decisions are the ones that can really make it a pleasant transition or an unmitigated disaster. Here are five strategies to employ to get your business ready for the big day when you go digital for good.

Do your homework

My father researches automobiles for a minimum of one year before buying a new one. He’ll read every safety report and review out there, start compiling a shortlist, compare prices throughout the year at various dealerships and ones in other cities and pick the brain of 50 different people before he even sets foot on a showroom floor. By the time he’s in the sales office, he’s the one telling them exactly how much money he’s willing to pay and what features he wants for that price.

You need that same level of commitment when you’re seeking out a new home for your business infrastructure, data and website. The really sobering thought here is that picking the wrong vendor here isn’t like making a bad choice on who to have supply your bottled water. If you mess up, it’ll take a whole lot of extra work to undo your mistakes and move on to the next provider.

Have a strategy

Yes, your plan is to move your business into a cloud computing environment, but this is no less complex a procedure than physically moving your office from one brick-and-mortar location to another. What is the most important thing you want to get out of moving to the cloud? You have to define that singularity to know how to go forward.

If you’re getting ready for an expansion, get your staff up and running on your new infrastructure as a service (IaaS) seems like the priority so the transition is seamless when your company grows. If you’ve run out of room to store data, get the next servers set up in the cloud first so you can automatically load new data there, then begin the migration process for everything else. Realize that this is not just a lateral move, but a chance to rapidly improve on your existing business model. That doesn’t just mean finally deleting your family vacation photos off the server, but giving you a real chance to enhance your company’s workflow by organizing everything to maximize productivity.

Changing IT providers

Breaking up is hard to do, and that is doubly true when the relationship you’re going to be ending is with your IT provider – assuming it’s not an in-house position. Unless you’re a tech junkie yourself, there’s something a little unnerving about telling the only men and women who know your company’s servers and networks inside and out that their services are no longer required. This is a particularly prickly subject if you have questions or need guidance about how to access certain parts of your network or are struggling to make the transition.

More likely than not, your new IT team in the cloud is going to only be available remotely to assist you, and while they are usually terrific professionals, you will be without your trusty IT sidekick for a while. A smart way around this dilemma is to be open and honest with your IT provider about what is transpiring. You’re paying them anyway, so consider making that final invoice include the IT provider giving you a complete map of everything on your server as well as remaining “on call” during your transition to help with any bottlenecks you may encounter along the way.

Legacy systems to cloud applications

How many of us have had a love/hate relationship with a particular software application? I once worked at a chemical news website that had a system for reporters to file their stories that must have dated back to the Stone Age. One French reporter had misspelled her own name about 20 times in the ‘Author’ listing, but every single instance came up when you tried to attach her byline to the web version of the article. This might be the most bitter pill for a lot of older companies and employees to accept: some of your comfortable long-term programs are not going to be able to make the move with you; particularly those that are systems of record, as the older ones rely greatly on physical documents. The government is to blame (aren’t they always?) for a lot of this. Legacy systems installed by the government never even had a web environment in mind, to say nothing of the cloud. The solution for a lot of companies is a hybrid cloud environment that combines the traditional aspects of a public cloud – IaaS, software as a service (SaaS) and desktop as a service (DaaS) – with aspects of a private cloud built specifically for your company.

Say you have oodles of data that can’t be converted to a new software but can be stored as image files. This could lead to a private cloud setup where the images files are stored until such time as they can be converted to the new cloud application. There are often lots of man-hours involved in a conversion like this, but the end result is the data secured and saved in perpetuity in a format that is easily accessible from anywhere on any device.

Have a little faith

Even those of us who have known the Internet our entire professional lives can get a bit antsy at the idea of pulling the plug on our databases, server rooms and so on in favor of trusting the all-encompassing cloud to be the new backbone of our organization. I think the primal fear exists for many of us that we’ll turn on the computer, log onto our spot in the cloud and be faced with a white screen; all of our information vanished forever.

Thankfully, cloud computing doesn’t work that way. Apprehension is always a factor to overcome when dealing with new technology in the workplace, but when you’ve crossed that barrier, you’ll absolutely love the result. Being able to do your work faster with unlimited collaboration and the ability to log on to your company server from anywhere in the world is a remarkable benefit for your small leap of faith.

Source: By Marty Puranik /

The top five in-demand cloud skills for 2018


As businesses of every size push forward with cloud projects in 2018, the demand for cloud skills is accelerating. Public cloud adoption is expected to climb significantly and the IDC predict spending will reach £۱۹۷ billion in just three years.

But as cutting-edge technologies, like machine learning, continue to reshape the job market the skills gap looms large across the industry. With over 350,000 specialists needed to help fill cloud roles there’s clearly a massive opportunity for professionals that can prove their skills.

Whether you’re taking your first steps into cloud or are aiming to increase your marketability, this is your opportunity to expand your cloud skill set in 2018.

Cloud security

Businesses are comfortable storing their data with public cloud providers. The idea that a company’s data is not secure in the cloud just isn’t true anymore.

Most companies simply cannot provide the same level of security expertise as the leading cloud providers. Microsoft, for example, plan to invest over $1 billion dollars annually on cyber security.

But businesses must still pay close attention to their cloud security. Cloud providers operate under the shared responsibility model, outlining the security responsibilities between vendor and business. In short, businesses cannot rely on their vendor to ensure the security of their data and services; their staff must also understand and work towards security.

That means it’s still crucial for IT professionals to possess an understanding of cloud security – even if the heavy lifting is performed by the cloud providers. To ensure their organisations are protected, professionals must learn how to utilise the security tools offered by the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

And for professionals aiming to specialise their cloud security skills, there are a number of industry-standard qualifications available. Perhaps the most well-known is (ISC)2’s CCSP (Certified Cloud Security Professional) which builds on the knowledge taught through the popular CISSP certification.

Machine learning and AI

While machine learning, AI and big data may have just been seen as buzzwords for many businesses in the past, they’re now at the heart of an increasing number of IT projects.

Analyst firm IDC predicts explosive growth for machine learning and AI, with spend with increasing by 50% over the next three years. As a result, every major cloud vendor is now developing or expanding services that allow organisations to leverage these technologies in their applications.

The two largest cloud platforms, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, both provide Machine Learning tools.

“These tools are easy to set up and there are plenty of tutorials available online. But to get valuable information out of them you’ll need strong data science skills,” says Mike Brown, Lead Cloud Instructor at Firebrand Training.

Microsoft is pushing ahead of the competition in data science training for professionals, creating the Professional Program for Data Science alongside a new certification – the MCSA Machine Learning that aligns to the expert-level MCSE: Data Management & Analytics certification.

Serverless architecture

Serverless architecture removes the need for developers to manage underlying infrastructure when they want to run or build an application.

“It’s the way that all new services should be designed,” says Brown. “The idea that applications should be deployed to a server or two is an old way of thinking.”

By adopting serverless architecture, developers can build services that are scalable and easier to patch or upgrade. This is often cheaper than designs that are based on servers.

Businesses were previously concerned about vendor lock-in when adopting serverless architecture. For example, if you’re using one cloud provider to host your serverless components, and they raise their prices, you could be “locked” into their service and forced to pay the higher fee.

Today, major cloud platforms use industry standard technologies and programming languages which means moving serverless applications from one vendor to another is no longer an obstacle.

Professionals can dive into learning serverless application development online but you’ll need to choose a platform first. If you favour AWS, consider following their Lambda tutorials and webinars to get started.

Cloud migration and multi-cloud deployment

As IDC’s report revealed, public cloud migration is accelerating and businesses need professionals knowledgeable in cloud to shift their apps and services.

Businesses that are struggling to scale resources to meet demand or are aiming to save time on menial tasks like database backup or maintenance will benefit from moving to the cloud.

But cloud migration isn’t a fast process and it’s by no means risk-free. Without skilled professionals, businesses risk downtime on critical applications and incorrect implementation could open them up to security vulnerabilities.

In the enterprise, multi-cloud deployments are increasingly common. Enterprises want the flexibility to choose different environments based on performance and cost. Because of this, professionals will want to consider expanding their skills across multiple platforms – particularly Azure, AWS and Google Cloud Platform.


“For me, automation is key to providing a cloud service for business. Auto-scaling, Infrastructure as code, automated monitoring and reporting all play a part in good cloud design,” says Brown.

“There’s currently a move to 3rd party services that allow us to automate across multiple platforms using the same tool set.”

Jenkins, Terraform and Chef are all popular tools that allow automation across multiple platforms and professionals aiming to increase their marketability should consider adding these skills to their learning path as soon as possible.

The key to marketability in cloud

The key to employability in today’s cloud jobs market is to gain cross-platform skills. If you’ve already achieved your MCSE Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification, consider widening your skills to include certifications from AWS and Google Cloud Platform.

By transferring your knowledge between cloud platforms, you’ll diversify your skillset and boost your employability in 2018.

Source: By Alex Bennett /

How digital business skill demand is driving IT investment

Strategic investment in business technology is led by CIOs and CTOs that launch new digital transformation initiatives. Those digital growth plans result in the modernization of IT infrastructure. However, an internal IT staff skills shortfall will continue to fuel demand for more savvy and experienced digital business talent.

Worldwide revenues for IT Services and Business Services totaled $502 billion in the second half of 2017 (2H17) — that’s an increase of 3.6 percent year-over-year (in constant currency), according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).

Digital business services market development

“As customers look to digital transformation initiatives to stay relevant in the new economy, vendors face both opportunities and challenges,” said Xiao-Fei Zhang, program director at IDC. “While automation and new cloud delivery models reduce overall price, new digital services will require clients to spend more time and resources to modernize their existing IT environment,”

For the full year 2017, worldwide services revenues came to just shy of the $1 trillion mark. Year-over-year growth was around 4 percent, which slightly outpaced the worldwide GDP growth rate. The growth in professional services reflects stronger business confidence that’s fueled by a brighter economic outlook and a shared sense of urgency for large-scale digital transformation projects. Looking at different services markets, project-oriented revenues continued to outpace outsourcing and support & training, mainly due to organizations freeing up pent-up discretionary spending from earlier years and feeling the need to digitize their organizations via large scale projects.

Specifically, project-oriented markets grew 4.6 percent year-over-year to $186 billion in 2H17 and 5 percent to $366 billion for the entire year. Most of the above-the-market growth came from business consulting: its revenue grew by almost 7.8 percent in 2H17 and 8.2 percent for the entire year to $115 billion.

In large digital transformation projects, high-touch business consultants continue to extract more value than mere IT resources do. Most major management consulting firms posted strong earnings in 2017. IT-related project services, namely custom application development (CAD), IT consulting (ITC), and systems integration (SI), still make up the bulk — more than two thirds — of the overall project-oriented market. While growing slower than business consulting, these three markets showed significant improvement over the previous year: CAD, ITC, and SI combined grew by 3.7 percent year-over-year to $251 billion for the full year 2017.

IDC believes that some 2015 and 2016 projects were pushed out to 2017, which helped to drive up spending during 2H17. This coincides with the strong rebound on the software side, as IT project-related services are largely application driven. Because large digital business projects not only drive up new services but also pull in traditional services, IDC believes that the actual volume of IT project services grew even faster in 2017 but was offset somewhat by lower pricing.

In outsourcing, revenues grew by 3.3 percent year-over-year to $238 million in 2H17. Application-related managed services revenues (hosted and on-premise application management) outpaced the general market – growing more than 6 percent in 2H17 and 5.8 percent for the entire year. Enterprise buyers have leveraged automation and cloud delivery to reduce the cost of operating IT applications. For example, infusing artificial intelligence (AI) into application life-cycle activities to drive better predictive maintenance and application portfolio management. However, in their continuing drive for digital transformation, organizations are increasingly relying on external professional services providers to navigate complex technical environments and supply talent with new skills (hybrid cloud, big data analytics, machine learning, blockchain). Digital transformation also requires organizations to standardize and modernize their existing IT application assets. Therefore, IDC forecasts application outsourcing markets to continue outpacing other outsourcing markets in the coming years.

Outlook for IT outsourcing service growth

On the infrastructure side, while hosting infrastructure services revenue grew by 4.9 percent in 2H17, positively impacted by cloud adoption, IT Outsourcing (ITO), a larger market, declined by 2 percent. Combined, the two markets were essentially flat. IDC believes that while overall infrastructure demand remains robust, the ITO market is negatively impacted the most by cloud cannibalization across all regions: cloud, particularly public cloud, reduces price far greater than new demand grows. For example, IDC estimates that, by 2021, almost one third of ITO services revenue will be cloud-related.

Source: By David H Deans /

Business Agility via Cloud

Business Agility via Cloud

Yes – cloud has gone mainstream. It’s just too hard to ignore all its benefits: agility; closer collaboration between IT departments and business units; faster feedback loops; easier design of products and services. Cloud allows you to investigate machine learning, chatbots, the Internet of Things, and other disruptive technologies. Are you on board too? Let us acquaint you with the voices of IT leaders who have gone down this road and have some wisdom to impart.


۶ key data strategy considerations for your cloud-native transformation

Many organizations are making the move to cloud-native platforms as their strategy for digital transformation. cloud-native allows companies to deliver fast-responding, user-friendly applications with greater agility. However, the architecture of the data in support of cloud-native transformation is often ignored in the hope that it will take care of itself. With data becoming the information currency of every organization, how do you avoid the data mistakes commonly made during this cloud transformation journey? What data questions should you ask when building cloud-native applications? How can you gain valuable insight from your data?

The ensuing presentation includes six key considerations companies must have when they make this transition to cloud-native.

۱- Farewell, service-oriented architecture (SOA). Welcome, microservices!

۲- ۱۲-factor app and cloud-native microservices

۳- Continuous integration/continuous delivery

۴- The importance of a multicloud deployment model

۵- Monoliths vs. nonmonoliths

۶- Fundamental requirements of a cloud-native database

Active-active data replication

Data replication in batch mode used to be a popular approach. But for real-time applications, replication with event store and event sourcing are getting a lot more traction. In microservices apps, that are loosely coupled and need to share data, there is a need for active/active data replication with tunable consistency. Many customers employ active/active deployment models for many reasons, such as:

  • Shared data sets among microservices that are being continually updated.
  • Seamless migration of data across datacenters so user experience is not impacted.
  • Mitigating failures scenarios and failover to a second datacenter to minimize downtime.
  • Handling high volume of incoming traffic and distributing load across multiple servers with seamless syncs.
  • Geographically distributed applications (like a multiplayer game or a real-time bidding/polling application) where data needs to be in sync across geos


Supermicro Announces New Cloud-Scale

Supermicro Announces New Cloud-Scale Enterprise Systems at OpenStack Summit 2018

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 21, 2018 /CNW/ — Super Micro Computer, Inc. (NASDAQ: SMCI), a global leader in enterprise computing, storage, networking solutions and green computing technology, today announced that it is offering proven cloud-scale, enterprise system configurations including the multi-node BigTwin and SuperBlade along with a 1U Cloud Storage system at the OpenStack Summit 2018, booth B9.

These proven Supermicro cloud system configurations have already been deployed across the entire range of datacenter environments including cloud service providers (CSPs), media streaming, e-commerce, social, telecommunications, semiconductor, OpenStack, artificial intelligence (AI), content delivery networks (CDN), and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). These systems are cloud optimized for scale-out, high performance at maximum density and software defined storage.

“Supermicro is helping enterprises accelerate their time to deployment by offering proven cloud system configurations that have already been deployed at scale in large cloud datacenters,” said Charles Liang, President and CEO of Supermicro. “For rack-level optimization, Supermicro Rack Scale Design 2.1 (RSD 2.1) manages racks of disaggregated servers, storage, and networking and is tightly integrated with other datacenter management software layers such as OpenStack using the Restful Pod Manager APIs that enable end-to-end cloud infrastructure deployment.  When enabled with Supermicro RSD 2.1, our 1U all-flash NVMe storage system with 32 hot-swap NVMe SSDs can share up to a half petabyte of high-performance storage with up to 12 hosts simultaneously. These 32-drive systems have already been deployed at many datacenters including one of the world’s most successful automobile companies.”