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The Pros And Cons Of Rebuilding Your Environment During Migration

So you’ve made up your mind that you’re going to move workloads onto a service provider’s infrastructure. Now you’re faced with a big question: should I rebuild my environment while migrating to avoid more disruption later? Here are eight pros and a few cons to consider when making your decision.

Pros: The Case for Rebuilding Your Environment

You’re already going through the migration process. Migrating workloads requires an assessment, planning, and implementation process – as does rebuilding your environment. Doing both tasks at once is a two birds, one stone situation.

It’s the better approach for the longer term. While it may be tempting to simply migrate over your workload, you aren’t solving the existing performance and administration issues. Rebuilding gives you a much better foundation for the future and provides you with better long-term flexibility. Interestingly, Forrester Research conducted a study and found that 83 percent of organizations feel their existing infrastructure is constraining their ability to modernize their applications.

Performance, performance, performance. Rebuilding means you can use newer high performance hardware and upgraded OS capabilities. For instance, migrating from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 R2 allows you to take advantage of enhanced security, configuration options, and website performance capabilities of IIS 8.0.

You get a new configuration. Over time, your workload gets bogged down with bloated configurations and work-arounds, which can hinder performance, flexibility, and security. Wiping your configuration clean and starting over makes your post-migration life much easier. In addition, a recent study from an information security organization found that 70 percent of web applications suffer security vulnerabilities due to incorrect configurations.

Allows you to address configuration issues. Your old environment may be preventing additional needed configurations due to difficulty or high risks of making them in your legacy environment.

Fix stability and reliability issues. Legacy software and operating systems are notorious for stability and reliability issues. IT studies indicate organizations devote around 70 percent of their average budget to legacy software maintenance. Why migrate old problems?

It’s the best path to software modernization. To reduce organizational risks, most modernization projects are done incrementally over a period of time. Rebuilding your environment during your initial migration provides a solid foundation for a modernization project.

You only need to focus on the application server image. The migration will only need to focus on the specific application data image, not the entire server, so the new footprint will most likely be considerably smaller.

Cons: The Case Against Rebuilding Your Environment

It simply takes more time. A straight migration will always be faster than adding in a rebuild. Resources available or organizational time constraints are sometimes realities that you can’t overcome.

It’s difficult to automate. Migrations and rebuilds run the gamut – many available automation tools won’t work. In addition, many migrations/rebuilds are moving the workload into a virtualized environment that requires a pristine image so it can be easily replicated for scalability and implementing disaster recovery. You’ll need to have a more hands-on approach, and that will mean more time.

There can be serious configuration challenges. This depends on the quality of the available documentation for the legacy configuration. If the documentation is limited, then rebuilding the configuration will be a cumbersome process, with the potential to miss important aspects of the configuration.

There can be skill or knowledge gaps. As a system administrator, you try to keep abreast of new technologies, but migration and rebuilding will inevitably get into areas you won’t be intimately familiar with. You can get stuck or do it wrong. This is actually quite common and a reality in today’s complex IT world.

The new environment might require extensive testing. New hardware, OS, and configurations mean you’ll most likely need to conduct more thorough testing to ensure everything works at deployment. The organization risk is higher, and requires more resources and longer timelines.

We Believe the Pros Outweigh the Cons

Taking everything into consideration, we typically advise a rebuild of the environment in conjunction with a migration as the benefits usually outweigh the challenges. And the good news is Rackspace provides tools and resources to help mitigate the challenges of a migration and rebuild.

How Rackspace Can Help

Rackspace provides both DIY and supported resources for migrations and rebuilds.

  • Reference Architecture Tool - Plug in your Windows requirements and this tool will provide you with a customized infrastructure reference architecture. Go to the tool.
  • Download the Rackspace Cloud Assessment Tool - For Windows migrations, use the Rackspace  Cloud Assessment to help you determine your requirements
  • Rackspace Migration Services - Rackspace provides complimentary migrations for like-to-like migrations and comprehensive support for complex migrations. Go to the Rackspace Migration for more information.
  • Rackspace Partner Ecosystem - Rackspace has an extensive network of system integrators and partners who can work with you on the entire migration and rebuild process.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Cole Humphreys.

Cole Humphreys joined Rackspace in February 2012 in the area of Cloud Servers. Cole came to Rackspace from Hewlett Packard where he worked in the Personal Systems Group from 2000 to 2012. Before HP, he was in the defense industry with Halliburton and served as an officer in the United States Air Force. He holds a masters in public administration from Valdosta State University and a bachelors of science in Psychology from Texas A&M University.


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