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Considerations when Migrating Data to the AWS Cloud

As companies consider moving applications to the cloud, one of the most challenging steps is planning a data migration strategy, and that process involves a number of factors. As one of the biggest cloud players, AWS is a big proponent of putting its users in a position to succeed. Their white paper – An Overview of AWS Cloud Data Migration Services – is a terrific blueprint for getting started in the cloud and setting your business up to achieve its goals. Let’s take a look at a few of the highlights from the white paper.

One of the more common cloud data migration challenges is transporting data, as well as the best way to make sure your data remains secure during migration. Data transport is a real issue, and it’s important to move from your current location to the cloud without it taking too much time, money, or disrupting your company’s workflow. The bandwidth that is used for data migration will not be available for the company’s normal internet traffic. How much data is being moved and how long the data transfer will take will vary. AWS suggests a formula to help in determining how much data can be moved and how fast:

Number of Days = (Total Bytes)/(Megabits per second * 125 * 1000 * Network Utilization * 60 seconds * 60 minutes * 24 hours)

For example, if you have a T1 connection (1.544Mbps) and 1TB (1024 * 1024 * 1024 * 1024 bytes) to move in or out of AWS the theoretical minimum time it would take to load over your network connection at 80% network utilization is 82 days.

Relax. We’ve done this before. We’ve found that customers approach this in two ways: they use very basic unmanaged migration tools to move their data or they select one of Amazon’s suite of services. 

For some customers migrating large amounts of data, this formula may result in an impractical amount of days to complete and lead to considering alternatives. One such alternative would be to use AWS Direct Connect – which allows companies to transfer data to AWS without ever having the data routed over the internet. This frees up their Internet connectivity for other uses.

Customers moving data to the cloud are concerned about the security of their sensitive business information while in transit. AWS also has several security features they’ve built into their data migration services and outlined them as follows:

  • AWS Direct Connect uses AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) for users to control access to the AWS Direct Connect Management Console, and provides a dedicated physical connection with no data transfer over the Internet.
  • AWS Import/Export Snowball also uses IAM, and integrates with the AWS Key Management Service to encrypt data-at-rest stored on AWS Snowball. It can also detect if there are any unauthorized modifications to the hardware, firmware, or software.
  • AWS Storage Gateway encrypts all data in transit to and from AWS by using SSL/TLS, and all data is encrypted at rest using AES-256.
  • Amazon S3 Transfer Acceleration also encrypts data both at rest of in transit, as well as client-side encryption, and has access restrictions that can be written via an access policy
  • AWS Kinesis Firehose secures data in transit, and also uses IAM to control access to AWS Kinesis Firehose, adding an additional layer of security.

That’s a benefit of having a professional on your side, such as a managed service provider. Having someone to help you make these determinations and trade-offs between size, security risks, costs, and other options for moving data to AWS is crucial. After all, there’s plenty to focus on within a company; the security of your data shouldn’t be a distraction.

Each cloud migration is going to be different, but there are ways to ensure yours is a success. It’s important to be proactive, having a strategy and plan in place, even if it changes while you migrate. It’s much better to prepare for something than to react to it. Understand all of the components of your migration bubble – including planning and assessment, duplicate environments, staff training, migration consulting, 3rd party tooling, and lease penalties – and the costs associated with it. That way you can determine the best migration path for each workload in order to optimize cost and outcome in the migration process.

Finally, as AWS likes to say: “Go fast!” The cloud is constantly changing, and being quick and flexible in adapting is key. Fortunately, with the help of an MSP and other tools at your disposal, you don’t have to do it alone. You can leverage all of the benefits of the cloud while mitigating any concerns. It’s comforting to know you can still act quickly without worrying about security.

About David Lucky

David Lucky
As Datapipe’s Director of Product Management, David has unique insight into the latest product developments for private, public, and hybrid cloud platforms and a keen understanding of industry trends and their impact on business development. David writes about a wide variety of topics including security and compliance, AWS, Microsoft, and business strategy.

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