7 Reasons Why Moving Apps from the Public to the Private Cloud Shouldn’t be Hard

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By Mike Frycz, Cloud Operations and Services Lead, NetApp IT


As the cloud becomes an integral part of our IT operations, I have read a lot of articles about leveraging the public cloud as part of a data center strategy. What’s just as interesting, but less discussed, is the move from the public cloud into a private cloud in a data center.  


In our case, moving apps between clouds is an integral part of our strategy to retain control of our data and make it available where it makes the most sense, both from a cost/efficiency and usage perspective.  It’s a component in our broader Data Fabric journey that gives NetApp IT the flexibility it needs to excel at service delivery.


7 Lessons Learned in Cloud Migrations

As a cloud business analyst, I am responsible for moving applications from the public cloud, managed by a service provider, to the NetApp private cloud using our NetApp Private Storage for Cloud (NPS) solution. In the past 18 months, I have moved or decommissioned more than 100 applications, both small and large. We are migrating the apps from service-provider leased space to our private data center to both reduce overhead costs and utilize available data center space.


Here are a few things I learned during this process that are worth sharing with anyone facing any type of cloud migration:

  • Automated provisioning. Cloud adoption is really a story of automation. Most cloud benefits lie in the ability to eliminate manual tasks. We automated three major tasks so that provisioning went from days/weeks to minutes and required much fewer resources.
    1. Added a self-service portal that was integrated to our service management software;
    2. Automated decommissioning of cloud servers; and
    3. Created a DMZ for basic approved security firewall rules.
  • Start small. Any IT project manager knows that every application has its own unique migration path; some apps are more complex to migrate than others. We started with small apps to test the process and determine what automation was needed. We learned a few lessons along the way: develop a template to follow (and don’t deviate from it), clearly outline requirements prior to deploying the infrastructure, and open communications with end users as early as possible. Our first few migrations taught us what we needed to know to avoid future issues.
  • Avoid customization. You will be tempted to adopt manual exceptions in the interest of time. In our case, it is the highly customized apps that cause issues with firewall security. In addition, one-time customizations cause long-term problems. In this case, our technical support team didn’t have a process that support these exceptions. Non-automated (i.e. manual) rules require more time and resources to mitigate problems.
  • Internal support. Moving applications into a private cloud also means moving from cloud vendor support to internal support. This has both benefits and drawbacks. IT gains a more knowledgeable support staff and more control over its operations. Issues can be resolved more quickly. On the minus side, internal tools are not as mature as cloud providers. For example, users can’t scale or resize their compute/storage as quickly. However, these shortcomings should not outweigh the long-term benefits.
  • Hidden cost savings. Moving to a private cloud reduces many expenses. Excess capacity is being utilized and public cloud vendor costs are eliminated. IT can piggyback on the existing IT infrastructure—tools and staff in the data center and command center/support. Expenses may start high, but the more apps that are moved, the more expenses will decline. In addition, any investments can be managed more closely.
  • Get the right backers. Why change things if they are working? Human behavior resists change especially if the current situation isn’t broken. That’s why it’s important for executive leadership to endorse a cloud migration so the business understands that long-term business benefits outweigh the short-term hassles.
  • Automate decommissioning. Via our self-service portal, we can automatically decommission the compute, storage, and monitoring in one push of a button. This results in time savings, accurate recordkeeping, and the elimination of manual intervention. 


The Data Fabric in Action

My project to move apps from the public to private cloud migration is part of a journey that is not possible without a Data Fabric that ensures we keep control of our data. We leverage NetApp Private Storage for Cloud to retain data control, avoid vendor lock-in, and dodge costly data migrations. NPS enables us to connect to and switch cloud providers at any time, whether it’s to move from a public cloud to a private cloud or vice versa. NPS also provides the high-throughput, direct connections to the cloud, the ability to rapidly scale our computer or run-time resources for peak workloads, and a common set of capabilities for managing data. 


Operationalizing the cloud is a major challenge for any enterprise, including NetApp. But the secret to success lies in patience, flexibility, and processes that enable IT to use the cloud on its terms.


The NetApp-on-NetApp blog series features advice from subject matter experts from NetApp IT who share their real-world experiences using NetApp’s industry-leading storage solutions to support business goals. Want to view learn more about the program? Visit www.NetAppIT.com.