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By John Hamel, Principal, TurningPoint Systems

So you’re considering a move from an on-premises IBM Power System to the cloud through a Platform as a Service (PAAS).

Your initial research tells you your business will only benefit from such a move. With PaaS, you’ll innovate faster, focus your resources, save money, scale easily, access the best technology and maximize uptime.

The truth is, you’ll want to do more than a little initial research. To grow more comfortable with the idea, you should carefully consider three primary questions every business should ask themselves before they make the move to a PAAS.

  • How do companies like mine make the move to PaaS, anyway?
  • What do I need to know about the cloud and cloud providers?
  • How do we make such a move as painless as possible?

Drawing Up Your PaaS Technology Roadmap

Your business’s information architecture consists mostly of various data assets and applications used to manage those assets in a number of ways. Try to imagine that you have to move all of those data assets and applications from your entire data center to another data center.

But how do you get from Point A to Point B? You may hear IT experts refer to this process as developing a technology roadmap between your current state and your desired future state. Without a roadmap, you’re in for a far more adventurous trip – not in a good way – and a far more expensive one.

That’s what a migration to platform as a service is. Migrating data and applications from your on-premises computing infrastructure to an offsite data center. As you take inventory of what needs to be moved and how, you’ll create a long list of considerations about application dependencies, networking, security, privacy, and compliance and performance. And every consideration will affect your information architecture in this new arrangement.

What You Need to Know About the Cloud and Cloud Providers

Here’s where IBM Power System users have an advantage. Why? It just makes sense to go with an outsourced or hosted cloud solution built on a Power Systems platform.

Staying with a POWER processor-based platform require provide the same security, performance and availability you’ve enjoyed in your in-house Power Systems environments.

While public, private and hybrid clouds all have benefits, determining which model best meets your needs is crucial. Public clouds provide a highly scalable environment with a pay-per-usage model. But they have their limits for highly regulated industries, such as healthcare and financial services. Private clouds, housed on premises, offer more control but your business is responsible for security, performance monitoring and more. And although a hybrid cloud offers the best of both cloud worlds, it can introduce performance issues, such as lag times.

A move to a PAAS calls for a fresh look at your application and security arrangements and agreements. Security, and application governance methods that worked for traditional on-premises systems probably won’t work for the cloud.

Making the Move to PaaS as Smooth as Possible

Unfortunately, there’s no magical switch to throw. In fact, a migration game plan is one of your most important tool of all.

The last thing you want to do is try to move everything all at once. You need to determine migration timeframes for your data and applications. It’s often more effective to break the migration down by workload, starting with less critical applications and moving progressively toward the business-critical ones. Test your applications and make all necessary configurations for virtual machines, networks, operating systems and more.

And keep in mind cloud migrations aren’t just a transition from on-premises technology to the cloud. They can also migrate data from one cloud to another. These cloud-to-cloud migrations include moves from one provider to another, as well as migrations between private and hybrid clouds. Migration from private clouds to hybrid clouds can be difficult. And they can involve a lot of planning and testing.

When creating timetables, pad the plan for troubleshooting, delays and miscommunication. Problems are simply part of the process. Better to have built in that extra time to handle them than to be caught scrambling.

Consider disaster recovery as a service as a first step in migrating to platform as a service.

Turn to a Trusted Partner

It’s hard to overstate the benefits most businesses enjoy by moving to Platform as a Service. But it’s really easy to understate the level of detail involved with making the move. You can develop a detailed technology road map and migration game plan, set aside a considerable block of time and staff up in a big way for go-time. You’ll more than likely still encounter moments of panic. You’ll get through it, of course, but if you keep the transition in-house, you’ll start to wonder if that’s the case.

Before you do anything else, find a partner you can trust. That partner should have a proven track record in helping companies like yours move onto a PaaS – as smoothly and as economically as possible.

Having an experienced partner on board won’t eliminate every snag and ward off every potential hiccup along the way. But chances are they’ll draw from their experience in these matters. And that will help smooth out those snags and sooth those hiccups well before they build into something that you really wished you could have avoided.