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Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Database Migration: Key Success Factors

Steven Kaplan
Steven Kaplan
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January 20, 2024
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Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Database Migration: Key Success Factors

During the recent earnings call on October 24, 2023, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella underscored the significance of Oracle’s partnership in propelling Oracle customers who are yet to transition their databases to the cloud. Historically, impediments such as complexity, compliance, cost, and criticality have deterred the shift of databases to the cloud. Nevertheless, with technological advancements and strategic collaborations like Oracle Database@Azure, the migration of even the most demanding and mission-critical of databases from on-premises to the cloud has become increasingly enticing.

To guarantee a smooth and successful migration, meticulous planning and implementation is crucial. Here are ten expert-recommended strategies to help you navigate the intricacies and hurdles associated with migrating legacy databases to the cloud:

Evaluate your Database Environment

Prior to initiating the migration, conduct a thorough assessment of your existing database environment. This should include considerations like the type of database system, its size, and dependencies. Assess performance and security needs to select an appropriate cloud database service and devise an effective migration plan.

Monitor Performance Closely

Public cloud providers frequently depend on traditional compute and storage infrastructures for databases, which can adversely affect performance. If your databases require substantial IOPS, seek out cloud solutions equipped with specific hardware or technologies that effectively utilize compute shapes with local NVMe. 

Conduct a Comprehensive Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Analysis

Undertake a detailed TCO analysis to understand both short-term and long-term costs related to different options, including retaining on-premises operations. A TCO analysis aids in comparing cloud-to-cloud scenarios and self-managed versus Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) alternatives, empowering you to make informed decisions that resonate with your strategic objectives. Always uses precise figures when possible, and ensure transparent calculations to boost credibility among stakeholders and senior management. 

Your TCO analysis should encompass all relevant costs influencing each scenario. These include elements such as licenses for database, backup, and data masking, along with compute, storage, egress, administration, and the impact on user productivity. The insights gained from a thorough TCO analysis invariably aid in ensuring a more successful migration.

Assess Self-Managed vs. DBaaS Options

Weigh the benefits of a DBaaS provider managing your cloud-hosted databases against an in-house, self-managed setup. An effective DBaaS can alleviate the burden of routine tasks, allowing your database administrators (DBAs) to concentrate on driving business success rather than maintaining operational consistency. On the other hand, an on-premise setup enables more direct control over security protocols and may even be required for compliance purposes in some industries.

Ensure High Availability 

For mission-critical databases, opt for a platform that offers real-time high availability across multiple availability zones. This setup guarantees continuous operation, barring region-wide outages, even if a data center fails.

Formulate Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Plans

Take advantage of the cloud’s capabilities to build a straightforward yet robust disaster recovery solution. Regularly test your failover and failback procedures and ensure your disaster recovery solution spans regions, thus reducing the risks associated with regional failures. 

Institute Backup and Restore Mechanisms

Go beyond storage snapshots and implement comprehensive native database backups. Native backups provide the flexibility to transfer databases between clouds or back on-premises, making them a crucial component of a multi-cloud strategy. Also, empower users with the capability to restore or clone databases from any point in time.

Enhance Security Measures

Database breaches frequently occur in secondary environments, underscoring the importance of a sensitive data masking strategy.. This approach ensures data is scrambled once it departs the production server. Enforce automatic data encryption, both at rest and during transit. If adopting a provider’s cloud tenancy is required, consider the cost and effort associated with complying with new security policies.

Devise Your Migration Strategy

A well-articulated migration strategy is key to a successful transition. Choose between a lift-and-shift approach, moving the entire database as is, or a more intricate migration that involves refactoring your applications for cloud-native databases. No matter the strategy, comprehensive testing is essential, including data validation, performance testing, and failover scenarios. Testing your applications and workloads in the cloud environment helps preemptively identify and resolve any issues.

Monitor and Refine Post-Migration Operations

Once your database has been migrated to the cloud, continuous monitoring and optimization are critical. While cloud databases offer scalability, they can also cause cost fluctuations. Leverage cloud monitoring, FinOps, and analytics tools to closely track performance, security, and costs, making adjustments to ensure your database consistently meets your business objectives.

Conclusion

In summary, migrating your databases to the cloud can be a strategic decision that brings numerous benefits, including scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness that aid in a successful digital transformation initiative. However, it requires meticulous planning and execution. A well-managed migration can lead to increased scalability, cost reduction, and improved data management, positioning your organization for success in the era of cloud computing.

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