Closer to the Cloud: A Cloud Infrastructure Migration Planning project update

A lot has been happening with the CIMP project, so we wanted to give you an update on how the cloud migration planning is progressing. 

As a refresher, in this project, we are working on a plan for how we would approach, organize, and prepare for a migration of our data center infrastructure to the cloud, specifically AWS at Amazon. We are looking at all of the LITS infrastructure and all of the applications that we support across campus, determining how best to leverage some of the amazing new technologies that are offered in the cloud for innovation, scalability, agility, and regional redundancy. We will not be migrating anything during this project, but our work will position us to be able to start migrations within the next phase of our cloud transition. So that’s what this project is about at the highest level. 

You may know that we’ve been working with a vendor called Smartronix as a consulting partner. It has been extremely beneficial to have their knowledge and experience as they led and guided our project team. At the end of March, we were ready to take the lead on directing the project, and Smartronix assumed a consulting role. This was a positive change for the project, as it allowed us to more accurately plan for closing out this phase of the project. We also have expanded the project team to include more Emory LITS staff, to get more people exposed to the work that we’re doing. We are now heading into the final stretches with getting things ready to be able to migrate applications to AWS.

The final phase of our planning work focuses on the “Landing Zone” at AWS, making sure we have a production-ready environment to migrate to at AWS. We have ensured that every infrastructure area has been considered. Much of the Landing Zone work has focused on shared services and security hardening of the environment. We have made decisions regarding Firewalls, DNS, Remote Access, among others. Sometimes Amazon has a native cloud solution for these services, and we have to decide as a team and as an organization whether or not we should go with their offering or move our existing service into the cloud. As we get closer, our planning has been building, as we are actively preparing the Landing Zone. 

We are also focusing on Operational Readiness, or being able to support and maintain the environment. Being operationally ready means a seamless experience for users, which is one of our primary goals. This includes tools and processes around patching, monitoring and logs, as well as incident response, changes and upgrades, and the process of provisioning AWS resources from user requests. How do we respond to incidents and work those? How do we deploy changes or upgrades? Do we need to expand our Service Catalog for new types of requests? As we mature, we will use more automation in many of these areas. We’re looking at what kinds of automation we are ready to implement now versus higher levels of automation maturity that we will grow into over time.

What are the next steps? Basically, the CIMP project ends when the Landing Zone is complete and ready to receive application migrations. The next phase of our overall cloud journey will be a new project (CIM?) to migrate applications from our data centers into the cloud at AWS. Our experience so far gives us good insight into how we would best organize to actually migrate applications, working with application owners through a prioritized pipeline of application migrations. So stay tuned for information on that. We hope to provide you with a good understanding and visibility for the details of the migration project as it approaches.

Lastly, I wanted to just remind you that this is the time to make sure that you are comfortable with cloud concepts and what AWS can do for us. We plan to have more community engagement opportunities to get everyone involved and aware, as well as training opportunities. If you feel like you would benefit from an introductory session about AWS and the cloud, we do recommend the free, one-hour, online course offered by Cloud Guru. It provides a 10,000-foot view of what cloud in AWS is and how it works. Here’s the link:

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