Determining your ‘migration mission statement’…and why it’s important

by Thomas Crowe (Red Hat)

A key component to a successful migration is a “migration mission statement.” The migration mission statement’s purpose is to summarize the key parts of a migration into a succinct, simply-communicated format that results in a clearly defined migration goal that is easily measurable for success. A sample migration mission statement could be:

Migrate the Acme Order Processing java application from the current proprietary IBM hardware running AIX and WebSphere into a cloud infrastructure running Red Hat Enterprise Linux and JBoss Application Server; in order to provide better TCO and ROI, as well as provide increased scalability and reliability. The migration should be performed during non-peak hours, have minimal downtime requirements, and provide for rollback if necessary.

Generally speaking, there are several factors that go into planning and executing a successful migration project. But by answering the following questions, a significant amount of the information necessary for a successful migration can be gathered.

The most basic question to initially ask is simply, “What is being migrated?” This simple question sets the stage for gathering the additional information that is required. Is the migration moving all services from one server to another? Maybe it is migrating an application from one application server to another, or migrating storage from one array to another. Each of these scenarios are going to have unique data-gathering requirements that need to be understood in order to successfully plan and ultimately execute a successful migration.

Another question that is essential to properly answer is, “Why is it being migrated?” It is not sufficient to simply understand what is being migrated. The impetus behind the migration is usually critical to the success of the over migration effort. Take, for example, an application migration from one container* to another. If the primary goal is to save money for the organization then the migration costs can not out weigh the cost benefits of migrating to the new container. On the other hand, if the primary goal for an application migration is to achieve increased performance, the cost of migration will likely be a secondary consideration. However the performance of the target container will be paramount, which coincidently ties into our next question.

Understanding the target of a migration is just as important as fully understanding the source of a migration. Often times it has been observed when personnel do not have a sound understanding of the migration destination, the migration was fraught with performance and reliability issues. Migration onto a standardized environment should always be preferred over migrating to a “one-off” environment. Standardization within an environment is key to reducing management efforts and costs. Migrations are increasingly being performed into virtual and cloud environments. Migrating into a virtual or cloud environment requires special considerations that must be taken into account during the migration planning.

Knowing when to perform a migration is critical to a successful migration. Applications and servers have specific usage patterns that must be understood so that appropriate outage windows can be determined. An order-entry application could not be migrated in the middle of a busy work day, nor could an ETL application likely be migrated during overnight hours as this is when they are generally performing their work.

Finally, after answering all of the above questions, the most complex question, “How do I migrate,” can be answered. To properly answer the “how,” a solid understanding of the What, Why, Where, and When must exist. By fully understanding the requisite information before attempting to answer the “How,” an honest examination of the organization’s capabilities can be performed. Questions that should be examined include:

• Does the organization have the expertise and bandwidth “in-house” to properly plan and execute this migration? For example, activities such as:

– Planning and validating data migration scenarios ahead of the actual migration
– Planning and validating overall migration scenarios ahead of the actual migration
– Developing testing criteria for the application to evaluate that the migration was successful
– Development and testing of contingency and rollback plans for issues that may arise

By answering these questions the need for outside assistance can be realistically examined.

Red Hat Consulting is a resource that is available to customers to help with the migration process. Our consultants have decades of experience working with leading companies in the financial services, healthcare, telecommunication, government, and numerous other vertical markets. By engaging Red Hat Consulting early in the migration planning stages an organization gains invaluable insight into migration best practices, leaving customers better quipped to migrate opportunistically. This results in numerous benefits including; maximizing cost savings and efficiencies as the transition progresses, speeds time to production, and drives significant return on investment (ROI).

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