With so much talk about cloud technology and its benefits to business, many business owners have begun venturing into this burgeoning area of technology, in the hope of greater efficiencies, integration and functionality. But whilst the benefits are widely published, it’s easy to be seduced into migration without a clear roadmap.
The result? For many, it’s “hang on and hope for the best”.
If you’re reading this, a fair assumption might be that you’ve considered the big picture and identified your organisation’s objectives in migrating your on-premise servers to the cloud. The reasons for migration are many and varied: such as improving your company website’s capacity to manage growing traffic, reducing IT infrastructure costs or simply making your business more agile. However, once you’ve identified a clear purpose for the migration, it’s time to plan out the process. Here are some important steps for you and your IT team to consider:
- Your Migration Window – Essentially, when you do you want the migration to take full effect? Like any significant change in business operation, it takes time to ensure all contingencies are accounted for. Seeking professional guidance from a migration specialist at this point can help you set realistic timelines.
- Communication and training – It’s also vital to communicate the change early to staff and provide any necessary training ahead of the migration. Consider how the training needs of each area of your business may differ depending on how they interact with your IT systems – are they heavy users? Do they have remote access? Do they handle sensitive data?
- Human resources – Also consider: do you have enough of the right staff with the right skillsets to best manage the migration? Consider not only your internal resources but the need for and associated cost of external support during the transition.
- Workloads currently in the cloud – Depending on the size of your organisation, there are likely many applications, as well as physical and virtual servers working behind the scenes to keep you operational. One of the first critical steps in your migration is to clearly delineate which of these are on-premise and which are already in the cloud, and of these, which are independent, and which interact or are interdependent?
- Security – Depending on your organisation’s operational and security requirements, you may need to consider either a temporary or ongoing hybrid set up. The option you choose will depend on many factors including the volume of overall data being migrated, and the level or levels of security required of each key dataset.
Tools such as Microsoft Azure Migrate can help you structure this process.
- Infrastructure resources – It’s also important to consider if you have enough of the right kind of infrastructure resources such as storage and network connectivity to ensure a smooth transition. If not, do they need to be purchased outright, leased or subscribed?
- What if… the backup plan – Migration often brings with it some challenges. But as in any area of business, the best you can do is anticipate the contingencies and be prepared with a backup plan.
- Time and corruption – Consider what you’ll do if the migration takes longer than expected, corrupts or suffers an outage: what will be the impact on resources and productivity? Will it impact your customers? In situations like this, tools such as Azure Site Recovery (ASR) can provide a live replication facility to maintain data integrity and operational continuity during migration, safeguarding against time blowouts, corruptions and outages, and ultimately, protecting your reputation and your bottom line.
In conjunction with recovery tools such as ASR, it’s also highly recommended that you establish a rollback plan: that is, a way to revert to the original on-premise system should the migration go awry. To this end, it’s vital to keep your data continuously backed up, according to the optimal replication frequency needed for your organisation. Tools such as Azure Backup and Azure Traffic Manager can help you maintain seamless recovery systems.
- Legacy servers – If your current servers are running Windows 2008 or earlier, you will need to make specific provisions to ensure a smooth migration.
It’s easy to be dazzled by the benefits of cloud migration, for they are many. But like any significant change in the operation of your business, it requires planning, expert advice and most of all, a willingness to be focused on the outcome but flexible in your approach. Give it the attention it deserves, and your business will be rewarded with a system that offers great agility and flexibility. You’ll make cost savings on physical infrastructure and upgrades and enjoy the peace of mind of a server that’s as secure, if not more, than your current on-premises set up.
If change and meeting your customers’ needs is a constant, doing nothing isn’t an option. Be sure you are partnering with a company with the depth and breadth of expertise you require. Particularly one who can help you navigate end-to-end managed services, cloud, mobile and paperless office technology. GPK consultant, Ben Holian, is available for a no obligation discussion on how GPK can help you reduce operational costs, manage your IT footprint more effectively and create an exceptional experience for your customers. Contact: Phone 1300 000 475 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.