Thinking About Migrating Your Business to the Cloud? Consider This Checklist First
On-premise file server technology still exists — and will for years to come — but it’s hard not to feel archaic when continually opting for traditional servers over progressive cloud storage solutions. Thus, if for no other reason than to feel like you’re moving forward with the times, cloud migration is something you’ve probably thought about at least once or twice.
Reasons for Cloud Computing for Businesses
There’s nothing easy or quick about migrating your files to the cloud; however, there’s ample evidence to suggest that a transition yields a multitude of benefits. Here are five specific reasons why you need to consider migrating:
- Scalability. One of the primary benefits of cloud storage is the ability to scale up and down according to real-time demands. “If the company needs more RAM, hard drive space, or CPUs, each can be added quickly, often in a matter of minutes,” says one expert. “If you hire more employees, the additional software user license subscriptions can be easily added to your solution. The same applies if you need to downgrade IT resources. It’s like technology on demand!”
- Security. While many people assume that storing files and data in the cloud means opening their business up to additional security risks, the truth is that today’s cloud solutions have much higher levels of security and data integrity than on-premise solutions that are exposed to a number of dangers. If you’re looking for better cyber security, a move to the cloud is an excellent solution.
- Cost savings. Perhaps the biggest reason why businesses move to the cloud in the first place is the cost savings associated with eliminating on-premise servers and adopting a “pay-as-you-go” approach. As a result, you only end up paying for what you use. This cuts expenses and can save thousands of dollars each year.
- Remote access. When you’re using on-premise servers, you’re forced to be physically present in the office (or are restricted to a specific device) in order to access files and tools. All of this goes away with the cloud. Since the cloud operates in cyberspace, you can access everything remotely. This frees you up to do business on the road, at home, or in the office.
- Relevancy. Finally, migration should be on the top of your list of priorities, simply because it’s becoming standard practice in most industries. Do you really want to be the company known for sticking with outdated business principles? That could negatively impact your image with both employees and customers.
Every business is unique, which means the benefits of cloud migration will vary from company to company. And while the degree to which you enjoy these benefits may differ, your business should enjoy each of these five advantages when doing away with on-premise file server technology and instead opting for progressive cloud solutions:
Five Tips, Techniques and Strategies for Migrating
For businesses in 2016, it’s much less about the “why” and more about the “how.” Even businesses that have yet to modernize know they should — they’re simply intimidated by the process of migration.
With that being said, let’s discuss a few tips, techniques, and strategies that should allow you to efficiently transition to the cloud at a comfortable pace.
1. Understand the Risks
It would be dishonest to tell you that there are no risks associated with cloud migration. It’s not a perfect solution and things can go wrong. But the reality of the matter is that there’s also a considerable amount of risk associated with doing nothing.
“As a result, two groups of customers have formed,” CentreStack, a self-hosted cloud storage and file sharing vendor, explains to customers. “The first is content to stick with their existing file servers to avoid the risks associated with cloud migration and the potential loss of security, compliance or control, while the second is willing to embrace the convenience and productivity gains promised by business file sync and share services despite these potential risks.”
CentreStack also notes that there’s another option for businesses that aren’t yet ready to fully migrate and want to continue using their on-premise servers for a while. They call it the “cloudification” of file servers and it allows existing servers to be presented as cloud storage solutions to remote users. All of this takes place without the involvement of any third party clouds, making it totally secure and seamless.
It’s always smart to approach any risk-related decision with conscious forethought, but what most businesses are realizing is that the risks associated with cloud migration pale in comparison to the dangers that are associated with being idle.
2. Consider the Application
“While the promise of improved flexibility and scalability make cloud migrations seem like a can’t-miss venture, not every application is right for the cloud,” industry expert Nicholas Rando warns. “Legacy applications, mission-critical workloads and sensitive data – such as credit card information – may not be suited for the public cloud.”
In other words, make sure you’re carefully considering the application before moving to the cloud. It’s possible that your cloud migration strategy will only be a partial migration. As long as you’ve done your due diligence, this should be fine.
3. Gradual is the Word
When businesses run into trouble migrating to the cloud, it’s usually because they attempted to move too fast for their own good. This is something consultant David Linthicum knows all too well.
“Many enterprises move from 0 to 100mph when looking to migrate applications and data,” Linthicum explains. “This leads to too many moving parts and not enough time to recover from mistakes. As a result, at least some of your massive migration project will fall on its face.”
Your cloud migration strategy should be calculated and step-oriented. Migration needs to take place in stages and chunks in order to ensure each aspect of the move is correctly deployed before getting too far along in the process.
4. Adapt Your Security Plan
As previously mentioned, moving from an on-premise server to the cloud should amplify your security measures, but it doesn’t make you immune to threats. As such, you need to be conscious of the changing responsibilities and demands, and think about things like security and governance when planning.
Which compliance requirements are in place? How will cloud services be managed? Who will have access to cloud files? All of this needs to be carefully planned out in your migration strategy.
5. Consider Virtualizing First
Regardless of whether you’re a small business or large organization, you’ll need to think about whether or not workloads have been virtualized as part of your migration strategy. In most situations, it’s much easier to move workloads to the cloud if your servers have been virtualized prior to the process.
“In fact, some providers will allow an organization to port virtual machines directly to the cloud,” IT pro Brien Posey says. “If on-premises servers have not been virtualized, a migration to the cloud is likely still possible, but the process may involve more work.” This is just something to think about, should virtualization be an option.
Now’s the Time to Migrate
Cloud migration is no longer a future strategy. It needs to be something you’re paying attention to right here and now. You can’t afford to enter 2017 still using physical servers. At the very least, you need to have a well-developed cloud migration strategy.
There’s not a singular method for migration. Every business has to deal with a very unique set of circumstances. The key is to understand your situation and identify a cloud migration strategy that allows you to transition while causing the least amount of friction and disturbance. It takes time to identify the correct approach, so get to work!
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