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Cloud migration might be in vogue, but one has to look beyond the buzzwords and the hyperbole. Anyone who has ever participated in an organization’s shift to the Cloud will tell you that it’s easier said than done. There are many hurdles to clear, and that’s before any unforeseen events that can throw a spanner in the works.

An effective Cloud migration relies on robust governance and operational models. In their absence, it’s quite difficult to extract the full benefit of moving to the Cloud. There are no cookie-cutter governance and operational models. They differ based on the circumstances of every organization and thus add a layer of complexity to the Cloud migration process.

The ’empty warehouse’ analogy is widely used to describe the initial shift to the Cloud. The feeling after signing up for a new account with a Cloud service provider is not unlike walking into a massive empty warehouse that only has a power socket in one corner. You have to build your datacenter in that warehouse, so you must start from scratch.

Among many other things, this would involve installing racks, network switches, cabinets, firewalls, load balancers, servers, storage, backups, and other equipment in addition to all of the cabling that’s required to run the datacenter. It won’t be functional without this initial infrastructure.

Similarly, successful Cloud migration isn’t possible unless the relevant infrastructure is in place, regardless of whether you prefer a single Cloud or a multi-Cloud environment.

What is a Landing Zone

A Landing Zone can simply be described as the framework that enables organizations to achieve successful Cloud migration efficiently. In terms of the example provided above, this would essentially be the infrastructure that’s required to be built prior to the shift.

A simple definition suffices for the purpose of understanding what a Landing Zone is, but we must dive deeper to realize its importance. A Landing Zone is a configured environment that provides a baseline for the Cloud infrastructure. This can include guidelines, policies, centrally managed services, automation, security protocols, and more.

It exists as the underlying core configuration so that when developers are brought onboard, they aren’t handed completely unconfigured accounts from the Cloud service provider of your choice (AWS, Azure, etc.).

With a Landing Zone in place, the multi-account structure in the Cloud can be utilized efficiently, as automation and repeatable processes allow for rapid scaling.

Best practices for building your Landing Zone

1.    Security and compliance

Make security and compliance the bedrock of the Landing Zone. Implement company-wide data and security policies. This is going to establish a baseline for compliance that can be easily replicated for any number of tenants or environments.

2.    Define a set of roles

Engineers and administrators that manage the platform should have defined roles to ensure smooth operations. It’s imperative that these roles must complement the engineering structure of the organization. For example, some engineers may only be provided read-only access on production and write access on development accounts while others may have access to security and logging services.

3.    Logs and audits

Effective monitoring can only be made possible through careful consideration of the data. That data is to be collected through logs and audits. When designing the Landing Zone, ensure that it has the relevant mechanisms in place for collecting and transferring the requisite data.

4.    Networking

Configure all of the networking parameters that will bind together the many different systems in your Cloud environment so that there are no connectivity disruptions. This can include IaaS network configurations, firewalls, VPC peerings, VPN or DirectConnect attachments, etc.

What benefits does a Landing Zone provide?

It’s only once the core infrastructure has been configured that the Cloud migration exercise can achieve any manner of success. A well-designed Landing Zone will make things much easier down the line.

It will improve the network’s resilience and performance, provide enhanced security, governance, and scalability. Through automation, the manual effort can be reduced while the quality improves and service delivery is expedited. Organizations will also see an impact on their bottom line as the Landing Zone will help reduce their operational Cloud cost.

Is a Landing Zone suitable for your organization?

Most organizations will stand to benefit in some way by building a Landing Zone. However, for some, it’s absolutely vital to the success of their Cloud environments. Organizations that are only just making the shift to the Cloud, don’t have a well-designed IT architecture, or don’t have a defined DevOps model will get the maximum benefit from the Landing Zone.

Those who value speed above all else will also see the benefits. The Landing Zone will reduce migration time as new applications can be implemented quickly. It allows for optimization of the DevOps processes while also reducing the time to market for new applications.

Furthermore, the Landing Zone will be indispensable when bringing new employees onboard or scaling up the Cloud infrastructure entirely.

Maintain your Landing Zone regularly for the best performance

There’s a common misconception that once the Landing Zone has been designed and deployed, there’s no use thinking about it again. That would actually make sense to a lot of people.

They understand the need to have underlying core infrastructure that will form the foundations of their Cloud migration. Once the migration is complete, they might feel that there’s no need to perform any maintenance on this infrastructure as its intended purpose has already been achieved.

It’s important to realize that nothing in the Cloud environment is ever static. The “one and done” approach doesn’t work when it comes to the Cloud. A conscious effort has to be made in order to manage and maintain the Landing Zone upon which the organization’s entire Cloud stands.

There’s a valid reason for this. The organization’s use of the Cloud is only going to expand once it completes the migration. Many different aspects of the Cloud environments will inevitably evolve with time.

Unless the landing zones are properly maintained and updated, they won’t be able to continue serving the purpose that makes them so important to the Cloud migration exercise in the first place. Regular upkeep ensures that best practices from Cloud service providers are always implemented, and the organization can always remain protected against new security threats.

Whether you’re thinking about migrating to the Cloud or require help with designing a bespoke Landing Zone, we can help. At CloudView Partners, we specialize in Landing Zone deployment and upkeep regardless of the Cloud service provider. Reach out today, and we’ll be delighted to help you get the most out of your Cloud migration.

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