Gilligan, AANA’s senior director of IT, knew that the organization would be better served by moving the bulk of its IT infrastructure off-premises — a move that would drastically reduce the amount of time the association’s limited IT staff would have to spend on managing infrastructure. Through conversations with CDW, she narrowed the choice down to two options: either hyperconverged infrastructure housed in a colocation center, or a complete migration to the public cloud.
“When you looked at the total spend, the difference really wasn’t compelling enough to opt for hyperconvergence,” Gilligan says. “We said, ‘Let’s rip the Band-Aid off, let’s go to the public cloud.’ We didn’t want to be doing this again in five years.”
Optimizing the Environment with Public Cloud
Gilligan and CDW determined that AWS offered the best public cloud pricing for AANA’s environment, and the organization’s board dedicated a sizable budget for the migration effort.
Arun Daniel, principal consulting engineer for data center and cloud technologies at CDW, led the migration. For portions of the environment, CDW was able to do a simple lift-and-shift, essentially replicating the existing on-premises resources in the public cloud. However, much of the infrastructure required replatforming to avoid over-provisioning resources.
“Where there were multiple virtual machines for basically the same server or the same workload, we combined them in a way that reduced costs for both storage and licensing,” Daniel says. The replatforming cut storage needs by up to 80 percent in some cases, and drastically reduced the number of servers required to run AANA’s workloads. And, of course, the association no longer had to support the electrical and cooling requirements for a sprawling infrastructure environment.
After AANA made the decision to move to the cloud, Gilligan received a phone call at 10:30 p.m. on a Saturday. The fire department had contacted the organization about a problem, and when Gilligan logged in to AANA’s security cameras, she saw firefighters standing in her data center. An aging air conditioning unit had sparked and produced smoke, and the data center’s fire suppression system kicked in, spraying nearby equipment with chemicals. The organization lost several servers, but did not lose any data. Still, the incident validated Gilligan’s decision to move AANA’s infrastructure into the public cloud.
“That showed us how vulnerable we were,” Gilligan says. “Our data was at risk. That would have been my enabling event to say, ‘We’ve got to get out of here.’ But fortunately, the ball was already rolling.”