Winter is coming, and while we don’t like to borrow cheesy puns from Game of Thrones, the ominous warning from the fiction world that George R.R. Martin created does have some relevance in this reality.
For our purposes, we’re going to take spread that warning for businesses who have not yet made the decision to migrate their company data to a cloud network. Because while fiction writers can create threats on paper, hackers and cyber criminals pose a very real threat for business owners.
It’s hard to imagine anyone predicting the size and scope of cybercrime ten years ago. But for all the ways that modern technology has been leveraged to improve our lives and our businesses it has also made it easier for criminals to steal data, install malware and hold entire networks hostage.
Executives sometimes have a hard time grasping the concept that “less-is-more”, but when it comes to the topic of migrating to a cloud network the phrase is completely true. A proper cloud network saves time, saves money and can increase business productivity.
While not every business needs a comprehensive cloud network, it would be a real challenge to find someone who doesn’t enjoy the benefits of using a cloud network in some form today. With that in mind, let’s go over a few of the points worth considering before you make the jump to a cloud network.
DISCLAIMER: Every business will have different needs when it comes to a cloud network, while this should not be seen as a “one-size-fits-all” post, it certainly covers some essential points to consider.
The SWOT Team
SWOT is a popular acronym for creating a decision-making matrix for businesses. It stands for Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats and it is essentially the document that presents why a migration should occur, the kinds of benefits it would present for the organization and any potential threats to doing so.
A cloud migration is a huge undertaking, and it can be quite disruptive to operations if not done correctly (hint: this is a good item for the threat column).
We know – nobody likes meetings, but this is an important round-table discussion to have with executives and the in-house IT team if one exists. If not, this can be a great time to discuss potential vendor options for a technology partner and what the businesses needs will be from the partner.
The existing IT infrastructure, including applications used most frequently, need to be considered here. Identifying essential applications will help your team (or an outsourced partner) make smarter decisions about the migration.
While most migrations projects are application and data-centric, there can also be migrations that involve services and systems. Some key points to consider during this process are:
- The type of migration which will vary depending on the businesses current usage of cloud systems or on-site servers. Narrowing down if the migration will be cloud-to-cloud, cloud-to-local, cloud and on-premise environments, or a hybrid will be important
- Which applications are mission-critical, which need to be migrated and which can remain on the current servers. Also, what infrastructure do they use, what kind of storage will be needed for them based on the data they generate
It’s important to keep in mind that cloud integration won’t change data or applications (in most cases), and it will synchronize data and applications across the full network. Being able to streamline this data helps workflow because while it improves the ease of access, it can also eliminate redundant data.
The challenges of migration and integration are well stated by an article in TechTarget. This is not a task that should be undertaken by someone with a hobby of IT – when the stakes are high you need professionals handling the task.
However, cloud integration poses some challenges, most of which stem from a lack of standardization. There is no universal or standard approach to integrate cloud resources. Different applications, resources and services sometimes use different communications schemes, which makes it difficult to create and maintain the necessary connectors to interact with various elements of the cloud and local environments. Updates and patches to applications might alter the way those applications communicate and may require time-consuming connector updates.
There are additional issues that can disrupt a cloud integration project. As integrations can be complex, they demand technical expertise and, in some cases, dedicated staff to manage.
A quick note on compliance should be addressed here for businesses operating in spaces that tend to collect and store sensitive client or patient information. Typically, in the areas of finance, healthcare and government administration there are additional laws and regulations for organizations to follow for the safe handling of data.
If the business is obligated to obey Gramm-Leach-Bliley, Sarbanes-Oxley, or HIPAA you may also be required to provide a certification that company stakeholders are aware of who has control over the access of types of data.
In certain cloud environments, like a public cloud, this can be a problem. Public cloud environments operate in a similar way as shared web hosting, the provider won’t be able to tell you specifically where the data is stored on their cloud. While most providers will have a SAS 70 certificate which proves a level of security and control, ultimately it is the business owner who is responsible in the event of that data being compromised.
Specialty certifications and compliance requirements are something you can discuss with your vendor during the SWOT process to help ensure the proper path is taken for the migration.
After the flavor of cloud (pure cloud, hybrid, point solution, etc.) has been selected don’t forget about keeping the data stored securely!
While in many cases, migrating data to a cloud environment can make data access and storage MORE secure but you may have to provide some training with staff to help brush up on cybersecurity best practices.
Most security breaches are the result of human error, and one benefit of managed cloud network hosting is that networks are constantly monitored and maintained. This means that the responsibility to manage security updates, software patches and antivirus updates no longer must fall on the shoulders of the in-house IT team.
We hope you’re able to walk away with an outline about how a cloud migration might look at your company. Bringing on a third-party to help with the planning and execution can help ensure a smooth transition, even if there are dedicated IT resources in-house.
It’s important to make smart decisions about cloud migration, and that could start with making a smart decision about an outsourced vendor. This space isn’t immune to incompetent and unethical people who are looking to make a quick buck at the expense of your IT infrastructure.
On our FREE ‘Cloud Readiness Report’ we phrase it like this:
Automotive repair shops, electricians, plumbers, lawyers, realtors, dentists, doctors, accountants, etc., are heavily regulated to protect the consumer from receiving substandard work or getting ripped off. However, the computer industry is still highly unregulated and there are few laws in existence to protect the consumer – which is why it’s so important for you to really research the company or person you are considering, to make sure they have the experience to set up, migrate and support your network to the cloud.
Continuous is here to answer questions you have about cloud migration, IT support, and long-term technology planning.
You can visit our resource guide for plenty of free information and schedule a consultation with our team directly right here on our website!