Has your investment in on-premise data centers or collocated facilities fully depreciated? Are you now ready to move to the Cloud? Lots of companies have made a significant investment in on-premise facilities for a variety of reasons: existing licensing agreements, contractual obligations, budget constraints and unforeseen technical dependencies, to name a few. It’s therefore understandable not wanting to move to the Cloud until it makes financial sense. Now that your organization has decided it’s time to make the move, you might be finding the thought of it to be overwhelming. You’re certainly not alone if you’re feeling a little intimidated. While each company has its own unique constraints, there’s actually an established maturity model with the Cloud and just about every organization can learn by starting from the same place. Here are five steps to get yourself Cloud ready.
1) Just Try it Out
Sign up for a free account with any of the Cloud providers (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, etc.) and start playing around with it. Once you complete the registration process, you’ll find that the amount of things to try can be overwhelming. Instead of trying to build the “next great app,” start small with some basic things like adding another user, spinning up an Ec2 instance or creating a DNS zone record in Route53. These are some of the most basic, yet important things people can do in the Cloud. So start small and try not to worry about making mistakes because you can always start over. While it may get a little confusing at this stage, take comfort in knowing that nothing you do right now will negatively affect anything vital to your organization.
2) Launch a Service
This is the stage where you’ll really start to get your feet wet. I recommend beginning with a service that you’re already familiar with, if you can. Whether you’re more familiar with Windows or Linux, try to launch and configure a web server and connect to it. Or, try setting up a WordPress installation which will allow you to try out Ec2 and RDS. You could also set up basic monitoring with CloudWatch. Remember, if you make a mistake you can always just start over. These activities can help solidify foundational knowledge for when you’re ready to take it up a notch with more advanced services like containers and Lambda functions.
3) Utilize a Non-Critical Application
Put a non-critical application into the Cloud, like a copy of your website or a VPN server and see what happens. How does it function? What things break? How do you go about fixing them? This will help you think through potential plans of action, so you can save yourself time when it really matters.
4) Complete a Proof of Concept
Now that you’ve practiced with a non-critical application, it’s time to put a more integral application that you rely on in the Cloud and make the commitment to launch it. Pick just one thing that would be a benefit to you or your organization. It could be simply setting up an ad-blocking server like PiHole or Adguard Home or setting up a wiki that requires a database for the backend. Something like that can help build experience and allow for experimentation. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these cool open source projects and see if one catches your eye. Uptime Kuma for monitoring, Kavita for e-book management and Check MK for metrics and availability monitoring are some interesting applications to check out.
5) Start Moving Over Components of Your Infrastructure
By moving components of your infrastructure, such as your authentication system and VPN, it makes the process less scary because, initially, you won’t have to jump through hoops with VPN set-up and connectivity. This will help you build some familiarity with core AWS services. If you’re versed in Active Directory, then setting up a Domain Controller in AWS would be an interesting exercise. By trying to do things you’re already familiar with outside of the Cloud, it’ll help you get more comfortable with the Cloud environment more quickly.
There’s no way around it; moving to the Cloud can be a complicated process and there can definitely be a learning curve, but by completing these five steps, you’ll be able to ease your way into the Cloud and avoid having to dive head first.
About the Author:
Jeff Pabian is a Principal Consultant and has worked in technology for more than 25 years. Since 2011, he has specialized in Cloud Services and has led many teams through their transformative Cloud journey. With strong infrastructure experience, he’s helped build and launch enterprise-ready applications that have served millions of customers. He loves tinkering with new technologies and has a passion for building things. When he’s not working, Jeff is an avid cyclist and enjoys collecting vintage audio equipment.
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