My CompTIA Cloud+ Favorites: Cloud Migrations

Cloud migrations are a critical and timely topic for cloud administrators and one that CompTIA Cloud+ covers extensively.

Damon Garn My CompTIA Cloud+ FavoritesThe new CompTIA Cloud+ (CV0-003) has some fantastic topics. The scope of the objectives is pretty broad, but that’s to be expected with the constantly evolving nature of cloud services.

I’ve selected three of my favorite CompTIA Cloud+ topics to cover in a series of articles. This article is the second in that series and it examines cloud migration. Part 1 in the series covered managing compute resources, and part 3 will cover managing cloud security.

Be sure to read the entire series for a comprehensive look at some of the most relevant topics from CompTIA Cloud+.

Cloud Migrations

Cloud migrations are particularly important to cloud services discussions because most organizations are still in the midst of adapting application development, CapEx and OpEx spending, server management and network designs to cloud environments.

Gartner has predicted a 23% growth in end-user cloud spending, for a total of $332 billion. Total spending in 2020 was approximately $270 billion, so this represents continued significant growth.

To help illustrate why cloud migrations are one of my favorite Cloud+ topics, let’s dig a little deeper into three different aspects:

  • Transitioning from traditional deployments to cloud services
  • Application development
  • Migrations to private, hybrid and multicloud environments

Transitioning from Traditional Deployments to Cloud Services

One of the most obvious aspects of cloud migration is moving services from an on-premises network operations center (NOC) to a remote service provider’s data center. This type of migration is common and can be accomplished via methods like network transfer or the delivery of physical hard disk drives.

However, there is another type of transition that organizations must go through as part of their cloud migration: Single-server deployments versus virtual servers.

Single-server Deployments

The older approach to server deployments involved the purchase of dedicated hardware, the installation of one server operating system (usually Windows Server or a Linux distribution) and the configuration of a limited number of network services or applications (MySQL, Apache, Active Directory Domain Services, etc.). The server had a 3 to 5-year life cycle and it was hoped that the hardware was sufficient for the anticipated requirements.

This approach was not particularly agile or flexible, hence the importance of virtualization.

Virtual Server Deployments

Virtualization has existed for a very long time in the IT industry, but it has become an essential tool in the sysadmin’s toolbox just in the last 10 or so years. Virtualization allows a great deal more agility and flexibility by permitting the partitioning of a single physical server’s resources among one or more virtual servers, each with its own operating system, applications and data storage options.

The migration of server services to virtual machines is a critical part of a cloud migration, especially when the organization is taking the exceptional step of moving from on-premises physical servers to public cloud virtual servers.

CompTIA Cloud+ does an excellent job of introducing the concepts and options cloud administrators may encounter as part of this migration.

For example, administrators may be responsible for one or more of the following approaches:

  • Physical to virtual (P2V) where the physical servers are on-premises, and the virtual servers are hosted in a public cloud.
  • Physical to virtual (P2V) where the physical servers and the virtual servers are hosted on-premises in a private cloud.
  • Virtual to virtual (V2V) where virtual servers are migrated from one virtualization platform to another, such as between a VMware solution and a Windows Hyper-V solution.

There are other variations, but these deployment techniques are common for cloud administrators and an important part of CompTIA Cloud+.

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Application Development

I won’t pretend to be a developer in this article, but I am certainly aware of some of the challenges related to application development and cloud migrations. Many organizations now require that applications be cloud-ready, whether developed in-house or acquired from a vendor.

Cloud-ready applications function on virtualized platforms, adapt to latency issues that may be experienced with remote access and support more than one user at a time. Such applications should be relatively straightforward for cloud administrators to migrate.

It may be quite a bit more difficult to migrate legacy applications that were never designed for virtualized environments, do not tolerate remote connectivity issues and are designed for a single user.

There are a variety of terms given to these types of application migrations. Here are a few examples:

  • Rehost: No modification, the application is cloud-ready. Also known as lift and shift.
  • Replatform: Application requires a reasonable amount of modification to operate in the cloud. Also known as lift, tinker and shift.
  • Refactor: Application must be rearchitected to function in the cloud. Also known as rip and replace.
  • Repurchase: Application cannot reasonably be modified to operate in the cloud and is replaced by a different cloud-ready application. Also known as drop and shop.
  • Retire: Application is removed from service and not replaced.

Cloud administrators have a lot of responsibility when it comes to application migration and will need to work closely with developer teams to ensure a smooth transition.

Migrations to Private, Hybrid and Multicloud Environments

Cloud administrators must recognize that the migration strategies of many organizations are changing. In the earlier days of cloud computing, the migration path was usually pretty standard: Move from an on-premises environment to a single public cloud provider, such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform. Today, however, there are many more options to consider.

Private Cloud

Some organizations, especially those that have a compelling need to retain direct control of their data, will build a private data center that provides cloud services but is wholly owned and managed by the organization. This is referred to as a private cloud and administrators may not be moving data or services off of the company’s network, but rather moving functionality from an older single-server architecture to a new private cloud design.

Hybrid Cloud

Another approach is a mix of on-premises solutions (whether traditional or private cloud) with public cloud services. This hybrid approach is particularly useful when some data control must be retained by the company, but other content is better served by a public cloud deployment.

Multicloud

Finally, modern cloud administrators may be asked to integrate the services of multiple public cloud service providers. In this multicloud environment, some services are hosted in an AWS cloud while others exist in an Azure cloud. Users need to access functionality from both providers, and it is very likely services in the two provider clouds will need to access each other. These are usually the most challenging designs.

Cloud Migrations Are Essential and Relevant

I must admit that it was difficult to narrow the CompTIA Cloud+ content to just a few favorite topics. The subject of cloud migrations was an easy one for me to identify, however. Cloud migrations are very common tasks at this point in history, so any coverage of the subject is critical. Furthermore, there are so many different migration options available that it can be easy to get overwhelmed.

One secret to success with cloud migrations is ensuring that the entire migration team—which may include non-administrators—understands the relevant topics. CompTIA Cloud Essentials+ is an excellent place for non-technical team members to learn more about cloud terminology, business impacts, and how migration types affect the success of cloud projects.

Keep an eye out for the third and final installment of this series. Part 3 will cover my third favorite CompTIA Cloud+ topic: Layers of cloud security.

Ready to get started with CompTIA Cloud+? Download the exam objectives to see what’s covered on the exam or sign up for a free trial of CompTIA CertMaster Learn and Labs for Cloud+.

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