You and your management team decide to move your IT infrastructure to the cloud. You know full well the cloud computing is faster, more secure, cost-effective, promotes collaboration and facilitates remote working compared to its in-house IT counterpart. When you get it right, that is. Moving to the cloud is a big undertaking, so how do you get it right? Here we outline 10 easy steps to get your IT in the cloud.
- Why move to the cloud?
You shouldn’t simply move to the cloud because it’s something everybody else is doing. Determine how your business operations will improve by the migration. What advantages does the cloud offer in terms of your company growth and expansion? Do you have the time and resources to move your IT infrastructure to the cloud?
SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – it all sounds so old-school. Nonetheless, an objective SWOT analysis is essential to avoid the migration process becoming highly disruptive and end in tragedy. List all the benefits and the drawbacks, including costs and potential network downtime.
- Assess your IT environment
When assessing your IT environment, first decide which applications are suited to cloud migration. Some apps, such as legacy ones or a performance-intensive application processing vast quantities of data, may be best left on an onsite server.
Once you know the apps that you’ll move, investigate the infrastructure used by each. This investigation should include storage needed, the amount of data generated by each app, network capability and requirements, and the acceptable SLA. You should also analyse how much money you spend on physical servers and server management for the apps earmarked for cloud migration.
- Choose an MSP cloud partner
If you are an enterprise start-up or a small-to-medium size business (SMB), it’s unlikely that you’ll have the in-house IT expertise to successfully move to the cloud. Selecting the right cloud partner, an established IT Managed Service Provider (MSP), is an affordable and sensible solution for any cloud migration process. The MSP will have experience of working on similar projects and with customers that are comparable in size and industry to you. The MSP will follow best practices and offer best cloud placement since they are certified by cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
- Private, public or hybrid cloud?
Depending on your type of business, you’ll probably opt for either private, public or hybrid cloud. What are the differences, you ask? Here we list a brief description of each and some advantages and disadvantages.
- • Private cloud is often an option for companies wanting complete control over their data, are concerned about intellectual property security, or handle a lot of sensitive data. While you still have remote access to your data, private cloud is hosted in on-site datacentres as is the hardware required to support this cloud model. While private cloud is organisation-specific and customisable, it is costly and requires IT expertise.
- • A public cloud is managed and maintained by a large technology vendor such as Microsoft and Google. These vendors have datacentres all over the world with millions of servers and offer computing, storage and software apps on a rental basis. Public cloud is easy to use, cost-effective and scalable. It can be unreliable at times and is often has less security than private cloud, making it more susceptible to hacking.
- • Hybrid cloud uses a ‘mix and match’ approach. You can pick the elements from either private or public cloud models that are best for your company. For example, an e-commerce operation could host its selling platform, including customer credit cards information, on a private cloud, while non-sensitive material such as marketing collateral, websites and non-critical data is on a public cloud. Hybrid cloud is widely popular as it is flexible, scalable and cost-effective.
Your MSP partner will recommend the most suitable private, public or hybrid cloud model for your enterprise.
- What are your IT architecture needs?
Once you know the cloud model that you’ll use, determine the IT architecture you need for the migrations. You should include the apps you intend to migrate, your storage requirements, computing power needed, your level of website traffic, and the optimum speed of content delivery.
- Choose a cloud provider
Now you are ready to choose a cloud provider. Select the vendor that best meets your IT architecture needs and business objectives. While AWS, Google Cloud Platform or Microsoft Azure may be the obvious choice, there are other providers such as Dell’s VMWare or IBM SoftLayer. Again, your MSP will advise on the best provider for your SMB.
Together with your MSP, plan your cloud migration. Your plan should take into account minimal disruption time, the order in which you will migrate operations, tracking of key metrics relating to successful migration and end-user training for the new cloud platform.
- Backup and execute
Executing your migration plan involves four critical steps: data backup, deployment, data migration and testing.
- • Backup all your existing data and servers, check the backups and ensure that data is safe and easily retrievable.
- • Deployment entails setting up the cloud environment. Test all components individually and then in totality.
- • Data migration should not impact business continuity. Move existing data to your new cloud solution and test data integrity.
- • Testing and tweaking mean checking that everything works in the cloud as it did onsite. Again check that all your data is present and in the right place. Test that the cloud environment is secure. Check that end users are familiar with the cloud infrastructure and are confident when using it.
Your cloud migration is complete and it’s back to business as usual. However, to ascertain the success of moving your IT to the cloud, it is wise to monitor the environment and identify ways of streamlining processes, particularly if you are using a hybrid cloud model.