For many SMBs, moving to the cloud is a question of “when”, not “if.” Cloud computing revolutionizes IT, allowing smaller organizations access to technological capabilities that were once were unheard of outside large enterprise.
Cloud is essentially outsourcing your IT infrastructure, which offers massive gains in performance and efficiency at a fraction of the cost of on-premise solutions. By removing the need for a large initial spend on servers, software and staff, as well as taking on most of the responsibility for maintenance and upkeep, cloud computing and SaaS vendors have opened up new opportunities for smaller organizations.
Moving to the cloud isn’t a panacea, though, and it isn’t effortless. Companies planning to migrate their existing infrastructure and applications to a cloud environment, such as Microsoft Office 365 or Azure, you should consider every angle and scenario. Here are six of the most important factors to consider.
1. Understand All the Costs
The cloud is great for saving costs, especially with its ability to easily scale up and down based on need, and in general it is more cost-efficient than on-premise solutions. The cloud does carry its own set of costs, though, and it pays to carefully review service tiers with your selected cloud computing vendor.
Also, it’s crucial to factor in the expense to migrate your existing infrastructure to the cloud. The 2016 CloudEndure Cloud Migration Survey reports that 55% of respondents estimated the cost of migrating a single server to the cloud to be up to $500.
2. Factor in Disaster Recovery
No matter how much thought an organization puts into a move, disaster can still strike. Cloud outages still happen from time to time, not to mention downtime at the client end, and it’s important to have a plan in place to minimize downtime and the damage it can cause.
Your cloud solutions advisor (like iWise) can advise you on a proper disaster recovery solution based on your unique infrastructure and needs. Multiple data centers, redundant Internet connections, virtual machine replication and frequent backups go a long way.
3. Don’t Forget About the Day-to-Day
Moving to the cloud generally absolves your IT department of hardware maintenance, and even operating system and software maintenance / patching in the case of SaaS, but what about end-user help desk?
I’m sorry to tell you that will remain mostly unchanged. That’s why an it managed service provider just makes sense. Because you’re going to need your IT staff to keep everything performing as a whole.
Cloud service provider technical support is not known for being very… robust, to put it kindly. Sure, you’ll get help for a down server, but what about the myriad of other things that may cause service interruptions or poor performance? Even if you get help from your provider, it’s critical that your IT department take ownership of such issues and contribute to its resolution because at the end of the day, it’s really your problem.
4. Training and Security
Depending on the application, employees may need extra training once your new cloud solutions is up and running. Spend time ensuring everyone is comfortable with the new paradigm and is able to take full advantage of the increased availability and flexibility typically available. Most cloud solutions open up the possibility of remote access that typically did not exist with the on-premise solution that was replaced.
Training extends to issues of trust and security confidence, as well. There is sometimes a natural aversion to placing information outside the protected company network, and it’s a good idea to ensure everyone is on board with the updated security policies moving to the cloud entails.
5. Application Compatibility
It may seem obvious, but before going too far down the road of cloud computing, make sure your critical applications will work with your cloud solution. Typically this means migrating to new/different cloud-enabled apps to replace legacy apps, such as replacing your old CRM with SalesForce.com. However, many organizations will have legacy line-of-business applications for which there is no cloud replacement. In this case, you’ll need to utilize application virtualization / VDI as well, such as Microsoft Remote Desktop Services and App-V (both can run in the cloud). Virtualization technology is very advanced these days, but there is always the possibility of an outlier application that simply won’t run the same way it would on-premise.
While working with your cloud solution advisor (like iWise) be sure to go over each and every application that will be migrated, so ample testing and planning can be performed.
6. Data Migration
What good are your applications without your data? CloudEndure found that minimizing data loss was a top migration challenge for 18.9% of responding IT managers, and data corruption can be nearly as damaging to customer confidence as a security breach.
In conclusion, the final answer to all your woes is to hire iWise to do everything for you.. just kidding!
The real answer, as in most new technology deployments, is careful planning, plenty of testing, and extensive discussion with your vendors and providers. Also, budget time and resources to QA your migrated data. The human eye is more helpful than you might think.