From establishing a plan guided by key performance indicators, to reviewing data migration and choosing what type of cloud suits your needs, migrating to the cloud is a tricky endeavor. The goal of cloud migration is to establish infrastructure which fulfills the modern needs of the organization or business, whatever those may be. Losing sight of core objectives is actually a common mistake as you work through the tedious process. Therefore, we have established some primary considerations one should keep in mind when undertaking cloud migration.
The Value of Documentation
Make notes on everything. Things which even may seem unimportant now may be useful to reference in the future. For instance, keeping records of various developments, construction, maintenance, assets, costs, and plans, along with specific objectives and motivations at various points in time, will help formalize the process. Further down the road, in the future, if it is the case that another mass cloud migration is needed, then using one’s current understanding of the infrastructure and how that infrastructure came to be, one can figure out what should be prioritized and what should be avoided entirely.
Setting Goals And The Importance of Key Performance Indicators
In order to keep the goals of the company at the forefront of the new migration project, it is beneficial to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate progression. The process of migrating to the cloud can become convoluted and sometimes it’s the case that the primary focus of the whole endeavor can be disoriented. Using both qualitative and quantitative KPIs helps to keep the development of a cloud based system in line with what is initially desired. Like a checklist, throughout development and towards the finalization of the cloud based system, one can run through each KPI in order to understand how close to fruition the endeavor is. Included are some examples of KPIs throughout various facets of cloud migration:
Choose Between Cloud Types
Choosing to migrate to the cloud comes in a variety of forms. One has the option to either fully migrate to a single cloud provider, distribute their infrastructure among multiple cloud providers, or even take a hybrid approach and only partially migrate their infrastructure to the cloud. To begin, the benefit of choosing a single cloud provider is that the entire migration process is consolidated. Considering you are working with a single point of contact, it makes it more simple to optimize the cloud to the needs of your business. Of course, one may want to avoid choosing a single cloud provider as, if they fall short of your expectations, it may lead to a situation where you have to essentially restart the migration process because you want to switch to a different provider. This is coined “vendor lock-in” and, because your business is initially reliant on a single cloud provider, it makes it difficult to make a switch later on. Thus, one may want to choose multiple cloud providers simultaneously so that their team initially gains an understanding of what various providers have to offer and therefore it is easier to transition between them as you start to realize what suits your business or organization. A hybrid approach can also be taken when it is simply the case that the nature of the existing infrastructure doesn’t allow it to be migrated to the cloud.
Confirm Data Migration Strategies
There are a variety of ways that data migration can be undertaken, despite whether one wants to move the load throughout scheduled intervals or all at once. One is able to choose a migration strategy which varies from using an existing, pre-configured, cloud, to building a cloud from the ground up. The depth of cloud integration is dependent on a cost benefit analysis between how tailored one wants the cloud to be to their needs, and how much resources one is willing to invest in the process. A higher degree of remodeling and restructuring entails significantly more costs.
The Costs of Migrating to the Cloud And What You Need To Know
Here are some considerations one should have in mind when evaluating costs and deciding whether or not they should migrate their on-premise infrastructure to the cloud. To begin, it shouldn’t be a surprise when hidden costs present themselves throughout the migration process. The costs associated with a migration often aren’t solely those listed in the initial quote, as it is typical for problems to arise which require more time and resources to solve. This may be perceived as a deterrent, but keep in mind that these types of costly obstacles present themselves in all kinds of infrastructure systems. In fact, the legacy phone system your business likely uses right now is probably outdated, as it has started to become unsupported throughout recent years. With this, maintenance and updates become more costly because they are either insufficient or widely inaccessible. Therefore, it may be the case that the hidden costs your current system will present to you in coming years will outweigh the potential hidden costs of migrating to the cloud.
Of course, the idea of “hidden costs” is inherently unsettling because of its unpredictable nature. However, if one is able to choose a cloud based communications provider with particularly experienced specialists, they are more likely to be able to predict any of these potential costs, and outline their existence in the initial quote.
Considering the process can be financially demanding, make sure to properly allocate funding before engaging in cloud migration. Exhausting your financial resources midway through the process could put your business’ integrity in jeopardy. Accounting for these so-called “hidden costs” can prevent this risk, as you have a better idea of how appropriate the size of your budget is.
Keep in mind that the fixed, capital expenditures, are the primary cost associated with on-premise systems, and variable, operating expenditures, are what comprise the budget of cloud based infrastructure. This is because with cloud based computing, providers are able to scale the consumption to the requirements of the customer to tailor their desired usage. The provider can charge them based on what they use, and not what they could be using.
According to this assumption, one should consult their business’ financial model to find whether the variable and fixed costs for on-premise or cloud infrastructure will be optimal. For instance, in the short run, if a company was only considering a move to a specific cloud based solution for a small amount of time, it may make sense to pay the moderate variable costs each month, rather than pay a large fixed cost. On the other hand, in the long run, if a company is considering migrating to a cloud based solution for a lengthy amount of time, it would make sense to prioritize the plan with a high initial fixed cost, yet with a lower variable cost, because eventually it will become cheaper than the plan with a low fixed cost and moderate variable cost. To visualize this, refer to figure 1 below.
Ensure Your Data Is Secure
Moving your data into unfamiliar locations may result in exposure, and can result in vulnerabilities. Although you may have done a good job protecting your data from unauthorized intruders up until the migration to the cloud, don’t use that as an excuse to go the duration of the migration without maintaining data security. In fact, additional measures should be undertaken considering there is a good chance the risks have expanded. Ensure that when the data is sent to, and stored at, the desired destination, it remains encrypted and inaccessible to hackers. Furthermore, if there are any further levels of security such as active monitoring, then suspicious activity will be detected sooner rather than later, and hopefully before the damage can be done. Automatic failover and backup are also beneficial, as will be explained later on.
Establish a Disaster Recovery Plan
Unfortunately, it is always crucial to consider worst case scenarios. Evaluating the probability of these events, along with what to do if they occur, is essential. Neglecting to plan ahead will often be deemed a product of “ignorance”, and may result in a tarnished reputation of your business or organization. All in all, playing it safe, and verifying that your cloud provider has measures in place to handle such a scenario, is ideal.
In a worst case scenario, say, when a natural disaster results in the downing of a particular server, if a provider maintains a degree of redundancy between their data centers, then using a server border controller your data can be hosted on a separate data center in a different geographical location. This ensures a high quality of uptime, which is always beneficial. This is also excellent protection against denial of service attacks. If your provider only uses a single server and no server border controllers then an event like this would threaten the integrity of your entire business.
Besides ensuring redundancy, it is also important to establish backups of your business’ data to store in the cloud in the event where the original files become corrupt or are lost in a worst case scenario. Discussing the security details of such backups with the provider is an essential task to complete in the process of migrating to the cloud.
Training as a Requisite for Cloud Migration
With the transition over to the cloud, new software will be introduced. If users are unable to navigate this software to access various resources within your infrastructure then this undermines the entire process of switching over to the cloud in the first place. In order for migrating to the cloud to be worthwhile, it is paramount that users are educated on how to operate the system efficiently. Therefore, it is important to discuss with the cloud provider whether-or-not training will be provided for administrators on how to configure the system, managers, and for regular users. It is imperative not to assume that users already possess the knowledge of how to use the software or how to take full advantage of the cloud. Ideally, in addition to this, a user-friendly interface should be prioritized as less training is usually required. A software with an interface that hasn’t been designed to offer ease of use to the regular user can pose a serious obstacle in cloud migration. Thus, it is good to keep this in mind initially instead of running into this problem later on.