A new view on migrations

by Larry Spangler (Red Hat)

The funny thing about people is that as much as we complain about how bad things are, there’s a natural resistance to actual change. More often than not, the changes we long for come with a good deal of anxiety and a great deal of process pain.

This week, we moved into our new space in the “Red Hat Tower” in downtown Raleigh. There was a lot of excitement leading up to this move – new offices, new space, new neighbors, new opportunities – a fresh start all around. But that was countered by an equal amount of uncertainty and anxiety – would we like the new space, would we be giving up amenities, would the new commutes be a hassle, how long would it take to be productive again?

So last Friday, we packed our stuff, left workstations and phones in place, and walked out wondering what was going to go wrong. Monday morning we reported to Red Hat Tower. We were checked in with smiles and shown to our desks where, miraculously, everything was ready – phones and computers online, bins with our personal stuff waiting to unpack, wireless fully functional, and more. Our new environment is bright and energetic, and we’re downtown with new views and opportunities at hand. The move was deceptively successful. To borrow a phrase, “That was easy!”

What we didn’t’ realize was that behind the screen a serious amount of design, planning, and coordination was going on. The team was orchestrating everything including facilities, infrastructure, ergonomics, safety, parking, security, employee training, physical move, systems configuration, and so much more. To most of us on the consumer side, it would seem like an impossible array of concerns to manage at all let alone on schedule and without hiccups.

The parallels between our move downtown and what we see with our typical customers migrating to Linux today are surprising – frustrations with current environments, trepidation about change, cautious optimism, doubts and uncertainty in flight, the initial shock of something new, and the wave of relief and excitement over new possibilities. But, migrating from UNIX to Linux has become easier and easier as technology progresses and practice evolves. The technical bits are foundational, but your when you boil it down, there are three major tenets that make the difference between failure and success – Process, Preparation, and Commitment.

From a Process standpoint, the tools and procedures we develop and deploy allow us to easily define cost savings, assess risk factors, map migration strategies, define training paths, and execute with precision. How a given migration compares or varies to what we’ve done before; what experience we can leverage for specific applications or technologies; where we can apply new solutions to reduce risk or add benefit – it all matters. Repeatability is key both within and across clients, so we drive that constantly with a focus on improvement and expansion. This means the client gets to focus creative juices on the outcome not on reinventing a migration process.

With this as our starting point, we push Preparation for everything the client needs to consider. We start by working together on what workloads can and should be migrated considering risks, opportunities, and ROI. We assess technical ability to manage the new environment and recommend targeted training for their staff to span the gap. We underscore general and specific concerns around Strategy and Governance then provide recommendations and consulting to avoid potential pitfalls. In addition, we take time to show them how to take advantage of new opportunities like on-demand development environments and fast, flexible workload deployment.

Finally, we demonstrate Commitment to success on every aspect of the migration. The guidance we provide lets our clients take advantage of immediate ROI, but also positions them for long-term benefits with flexible, scalable architectures. The accessibility and depth of our solution-based product support integrates answers across vendors, not just within our stack. The knowledge sharing we provide and our openness for integrating even seemingly competitive technologies is unparalleled. In short, we worry through a lot to ensure our client’s won’t have to.

So when we get called on to move workloads from legacy hardware, inflexible architectures, or onerous cost structures, our customers are surprised by the ease we bring to the process, but more importantly, they’re elated with the flexibility and freedom they get to innovate again and attack new opportunities. We see it all the time and frankly, it’s fun to watch the outcome.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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