Monday, April 6, 2015

Migrating My Enterprise App to the [anywhere but here] (Part 3 of the "The Cure for What Ails Your Remedy" series)

Part 1 of this Series
Part 2 of this Series

I cannot recall a DoD or Fortune 500 customer in the last five years that has told me they are not actively pursuing moving to the cloud or a new datacenter. Many even have a strategy and perhaps even an architecture. But, when I ask them "How do you plan to get there?", the response is often "I don't know yet." Why? The reason is that while acquiring and leveraging cloud-based resources have never been easier than before, the path to get to the cloud is still fraught with roadblocks that insert great risk, elongate project schedules, and overrun budgets; putting your mission, or business. This means the cloud migration that was supposed to deliver great advantages, is now an expensive ticking time bomb of risk. Will you make it before the timer expires? Which do you cut first, the green or the red wire? I firmly believe that Delphix eliminates the obstacles in your path keeping you from achieving your cloud goals. I invite you to read this blog post about an application migration project where I use Delphix to move a prevalent enterprise application, BMC Remedy, to the cloud. At the conclusion of the article, you will have a better understanding of how Delphix enables greater mission and business success by enabling you to securely get your applications to the cloud ahead of schedule and under budget, all while mitigating the risk of failure. 

If you are just jumping into this series, you can get caught up by reading the two links at the top of the page.

Let's start with a recap. in the first installment, I discussed the common and costly constraints of complex enterprise application projects, namely ITSM,  and how we could apply Delphix to eliminate those constraints. The second installment was more technical in nature and chronicled my experience in virtualizing a new application (BMC Remedy) for the first time. At the end of the second blog I realized the environment in my lab was not sufficient to run multiple instances of Remedy and I needed to migrate my work to the cloud. I decided to turn this to my advantage as a teaching moment. In this blog post, I am going to discuss some of the common constraints with application migration projects; how Delphix eliminates those constraints; and include a link to a video of my cloud migration of Remedy, where I use Delphix to move my Remedy installation from my lab to Amazon Web Services.

When I reflect back on what kept my customers from successfully migrating their applications, I see three main constraints.

Upside Down Plans
 Your application migration plan likely resembles something like this: Backup all application environments (AE), copy all AE's to new facility, get non-prod application environments operational (guinea pigs), stage new production, rehearse new production, validate new production, backup old production, stage new production for final cutover, cutover new production. That simple, right? Anyone who has been a part of application modernization or migration projects knows that each step, even the first one, can take months to complete; and some steps in there will have multiple iterations (rehearsal and validation).

You are spending, or planning on spending, a lot of time and resources to migrate your applications to the cloud in order for your mission or business to reap the agility, speed, and/or cost benefits that the cloud offers. Ironically, your migration plan is likely to take you a huge step backwards. But, you realize this and are willing to take the step, because you are hoping for two steps forward afterward. Hope is not a strategy. Why not just move forward the whole time?

With Delphix, you can turn your application migration project right-side up. Place a Delphix engine in your new location; Delphix is cloud-ready, so you can even put it in AWS or AWS Gov Cloud. Delphix will make a non-disruptive copy, compressed and filtered, of your production application and database in the new location.  Delphix will even work across a slow WAN link. Going forward, Delphix will stay in near real-time sync with your production applications and databases,  building a sort of time flow, providing you with a copy of your production application in your new datacenter from virtually every point in time after Delphix made that initial copy.

With your production application data in Delphix, located in the new datacenter, Delphix can now share the underlying data blocks across your non-prod environments  to create as many virtual copies as you need. Instead of stopping work and backing up, then moving, all of your non-prod environments,  you can hydrate all of your non-production environments with fresh virtual copies of production in minutes. These copies are fully autonomous, read/write, and consume a fraction of the storage (around 90% reduction). The virtual applications feel and behave the exact same way, so there is no need for your developers to have to change the way the application interacts with the database or how they currently perform their development.

But, the real power of how Delphix changes the process and economics of these projects is with the self-services tools. Delphix gives your DBA's and developers the ability, with a few clicks of a mouse, to perform fast refresh, rewind, restore, archive, bookmark, and branching of their applications; and for it to be completed in minutes.

Rational FUD

But nothing slows down, or completely paralyzes, a project like fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). With all of the migration horror stories about business outages, cost runaway, and vendor lock-in; a healthy dose of FUD is warranted when using traditional migration methods. After all, it's called paranoia only if there isn't a reason to be worried. 

Delphix allows you to increase your rehearsal and validation by 1000%, and allows you to use fresh production data each time. No longer are you conducting rehearsal and validation activities that run on weeks/months old data and takes minutes to run and days/weeks to reset for another attempt. Provision a copy of your production application to the rehearsal environment with a few clicks and in minutes it's ready. Perform your validation activity. Something didn't go right, or you want to tweak a setting and try again? Restore that application to the pre-test state with a few clicks and it is ready for testing again in a a few minutes. If validation was successful, or if you had some interesting rehearsal results that you want to share with others/revisit at a later time, just click "bookmark" and you have a complete copy of your application environment that you can call on at any time in the future (and produce within minutes).

Do you need your non-production data to be masked? Delphix Agile masking can replace all of the PII, PCI, or any other sensitive information in your production data with realistic data (think randomized SSN's, etc) so that your developers can test to ensure that their new query works to pull the details of the entire fleet's personnel records, but without it being anyone's actual information. And since Delphix can handle all of this automatically, developers no longer wait for someone to scrub the new copy of production so they can have it, and you no longer have to hope masking has actually been done. And all of this is setup with a web browser without requiring specialized programming skill sets.

Once you have successfully completed all validation activities and are ready for cutover, you can have Delphix unvirtualize the AE. Delphix will create a full copy of that AE on in your new production environment so you can complete any final steps needed to complete cutover. Once new production is up and running, you can have Delphix link to that environment and leverage the data from new production for all of your downstream copies.

Would your anxiety level go down and stakeholder confidence go up if you were able to conduct 1000% more high-quality tests with fresh production data, without adding a day to the schedule?

Dragging a Sled

But if the migration project has already begun, even with the customer desiring all these benefits, I commonly hear a variation of this irrational FUD statement: "I can't introduce a new product into my migration because we have already budgeted our funds nor can we allow the project to slip to the right any further."  Every time I hear this, it reminds me of a response to that statement that  I once heard an executive tell a now-customer. It was something like this:
I understand where you are coming from, I do. You and your entire team are heads-down and working your hardest to drag this project across the finish line. You have accepted that you won't get it there in time, but you are working your hardest to ensure "the application  sled" delivers your application as soon as possible. But, I am offering you wheels and an engine, not a fancier sled. Wheels and an engine turn your sled into a automobile. And, you will  actually deliver your application on time and under budget, with no losses along the way. You have to take time to now to make the changes needed in order to speed up your projects. Putting on wheels after you cross the finish line is pointless.

It usually only takes a few days to get Delphix installed and operational in your environment. Most of my  customers begin reaping the benefits of Delphix inside of a week. That means that in as few as five days, your team can be resetting the rehearsal environments in minutes and performing so many more tests, while considerably increasing the quality of those tests. In five days you can be driving your application project, not dragging it.

Real-Life Example
The perfect example of Delphix addressing these three areas are exemplified in this customer example. A fortune 500 consumer products company had undergone an application modernization and migration project. In addition to changing to Oracle Exadata hardware, the customer was also changing MSP's. That, in itself, is a double-whammy. Not only are you migrating data centers, you are also changing contracts and operations personnel. As you can imagine, this became a political nightmare. Very quickly, milestones were being missed and costs were escalating. It got so bad, that the company had come to the conclusion that the only way to get the migration done was to plan for a weeklong outage and rent forklifts to load their equipment into semi-trucks and drive them across country to the new location! At about this time, Delphix entered into discussions with the company. The customer purchased and implemented Delphix into their migration project. The end results were astounding. The customer eliminated the "Lift and Shift" of moving four out-of-five of their non-production environments, and reduced their overall migration and ongoing operational costs by 80% for their non-production environments. The customer finished their migration project ahead of schedule, under budget, and had experienced zero downtime all the way through cutover.

Below is a link to my video where I actually move my BMC Remedy Installation into Amazon cloud using the features I spelled out in this blog. The video is for the more BMC Remedy-knowledgeable viewer, but it's basic concepts can be applied to your enterprise applications.