Everyone’s heard of the cloud. But do you know what it is?
It’s likely you already use it in your personal life, perhaps to store digital photos and documents, or even for backing up your phone. When you access something in the cloud it means you are accessing information or using an application that’s on someone else’s servers. Typically, these are in huge buildings placed around the world. It means you can access anything from anywhere on any device. It’s fast, easy, and secure. When it comes to using the cloud for your business, what exactly does that mean? Cloud computing is about moving all of your computing services – like your databases, your systems, and applications – to be stored in the cloud, rather than in-house on your own servers.
It can be a smart business decision. It’s a great way to:
- Reduce costs
- Make your IT infrastructure more reliable
- Scale your IT as your business grows
- Protect your data and keep it secure
But moving to the cloud can be complex. The biggest issue is the process of migration – of physically moving all your data from your in-house servers to a remote storage facility, without breaking something or losing data along the way. It’s not a decision you should take lightly, and definitely not a move you should make without expert help. With good planning and the right strategy in place, migrating to the cloud could be one of the best business decisions you make. It’s a look at exactly how you start planning and strategizing for your business to move its IT infrastructure to the cloud. And because we really enjoy helping with this, we’ve also included a helpful checklist to keep you on track through your planning process.
What is a Cloud Migration Strategy?
A cloud migration strategy is the plan your business should make to enable you to move your data and some applications from your on-site infrastructure to the cloud. It will help you to prioritize and migrate the right data in the right order for the smoothest transfer, and the least disruption.
Benefits in Cloud Migration
Decreased Hosting Costs -You’ll no longer need to keep your in-house servers running and maintained. And there’s also no capital expenditure to consider, as cloud services are usually subscription based – no hardware to buy.
Better Scalability – Cloud-based services give you the freedom to automatically scale your capacity as and when you need to. That means if your business grows rapidly, you won’t need to change your entire infrastructure to meet your new needs. It also means that maintenance and updating can be carried out remotely, making it much faster to fix problems, which of course means less downtime.
Increased Security – This is a huge priority for cloud service providers. Keeping your data safe is as crucial to their reputation as it is to yours. They offer greater security than you get from in-house servers, and they have additional measures in place to offer maximum security.
Environmentally Conscious – While you’ll still have a carbon footprint, it’ll be reduced. That’s because you are only using the energy and resource that you need at the point you need it, unlike running your own servers 24/7.
Improved Disaster Recovery – This is vital for any business. While you should already have a solid disaster recovery plan in place, when you move to the cloud, the back-up and recovery solutions you benefit from are more cost effective and less time consuming.
Challenges in Cloud Migration
Downtime – Migration may take your servers down for a time. As well as the obvious implications, this has the potential to affect your applications’ performance if they’re not correctly backed-up.
Data loss – Your data is most vulnerable during the migration process. Extreme care and adequate measures must be taken to avoid lost data, or a breach.
Communication – Some of your older existing applications may struggle to communicate with newer cloud services. This means you may have to adapt some of your processes to fit in with your new cloud provider.
Making big decisions – Next, you’ll need to decide what level of cloud integration your business will need. This might sound complicated, but remember, if you’ve created a good plan, you’ll already understand your cloud server requirements. Now is the time to make the right choices to suit your business.
There are two options:
This option means you’ll move your on-site applications to the cloud, making limited changes to the servers. You essentially lift your applications and systems ‘as is’ and move them to the cloud as one. You may hear this being referred to as ‘lift and shift’.
Deep Cloud Integration
With this option you modify your applications during the process of migration, to take full advantage of the key cloud capabilities on offer. This may be relatively simple, or it may involve a more sophisticated modification.
Implementing the Migration
While you probably won’t be handling the physical migration yourself, you do need to plan how it will happen. Will you switch your entire system to your new cloud version all at once, or will you do it a little at a time? There are pros and cons to each method, but realistically, moving it piece by piece allows you the opportunity to test those things are working as they should be, without risking downtime in the process. But it also means there will be a period where you’ll be working between two systems.
Moving everything in one go gives you a solid goal for migration, but it leaves you open to risks if something should break or go wrong along the way. There is no right or wrong answer to this one. It will simply be a case of you deciding which is the biggest risk to your company, or how quickly you want to make the move to your new cloud system. Whichever method you decide on, it should be part of your plan to have a target completion date for migration to be finalized.