Technology is always moving forward and opening up new opportunities, but with those opportunities come risks, and not every business will benefit from these new opportunities. So it is with cloud-based computing, which has evolved over the last decade to be a viable alternative for a large number of businesses.
In the past, a company would need to devote a significant amount of money towards the purchase and upkeep of technology (servers, routers, etc). Today, much of this heavy lifting has shifted to servers that are off-site and well-secured, without any business disruption. These off-site servers run by 3rd-party companies are referred to as 'the cloud'. What used to be simply storage has now turned into data manipulation, report generating, and a host of additional services that used to be handled in-house.
When your business is ready to move some or all of your data and applications to the cloud, you need to have a migration strategy. The last thing you need is to have your business come to a halt because you can't access your data and perform the daily tasks that you need to do. Not only that, but when you migrate, you want to make sure that it is always available and has up-time equivalent to when you had everything in-house. So what makes up a cloud migration strategy? We'll break it down so you can develop a solid plan for your migration.
The Basic Migration Process
While your business is unique, and you should take the time to formulate a migration plan that fits your needs and desires, some basic points are common to all cloud migration plans. This is not something that gets done over the weekend (though some work might be done on a weekend to minimize the impact on the rest of the organization), and the more you put into planning now, the easier the transition will go.
Planning Your Migration
At the outset, you should understand and articulate the reasons why you are migrating to a cloud-based system. Beyond that, you should settle on the right strategy that will support these reasons. Part of this planning should be to calculate your requirements so that you aren't overpaying for servers you don't need, as well as making sure that you aren't underestimating your organization's needs.
Choose the Cloud Environment
This is the point where you will choose the kind of cloud model that will fit your needs and address the security concerns you have. Don't just look at today, but try to forecast into the future so that you can adjust easily as time goes on to the changing landscape.
Migrating Apps and Data
The actual migration should be smooth sailing, but plan for issues to arise. Keep in mind security concerns, back-up plans, and recovery. An application performance management solution should be used to baseline performance for post-migration testing.
Once the migration is done, you want to make sure things still work as you expect them. This is a great time to also prove the benefits of moving to a cloud-based system over your old in-house system.
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While every business will have its own unique strategy based on its needs and desires, there are six common migration strategies that most businesses have used over the years.
- The first is called rehosting and essentially means that you are recreating the same environment that you already had.
- The second is called replatforming, and this is the same as rehosting with the exception that they will do a bit of adjustment to optimize a few things.
- The third strategy is called repurchasing, and this involves moving to a new, cloud-based service, usually a SaaS platform.
- The fourth strategy is refactoring, and this is typically the most expensive strategy. You will be rebuilding applications from scratch, but you do it to leverage the new options from a cloud-based service.
- The fifth strategy is retiring and basically involves turning off some applications that you find that you aren't using any longer, and the resulting savings can help boost the case for migration.
- The sixth and final strategy is retaining, and this means that you are postponing the migration for one or more serious issues that are unable to be resolved at this time.
Benefits of Migration
You wouldn't do a migration to a cloud-based system without some benefits accruing for the business, otherwise it's just spending money to spend money.
- A primary benefit is a reduction in hosting costs since you are no longer keeping up your own physical servers.
- A second benefit is scalability and agility. As your business grows, you can easily add capacity, and your team can work from anywhere instead of having to be on-site.
- A third benefit a business can experience is a reduction in energy costs, reducing the environmental footprint.
- A fourth benefit is that disaster recovery is much easier and cheaper, which impacts smaller businesses more heavily.
- And a fifth benefit is security, as the cloud provider keeps up with the security needs and having everything stored centrally instead of scattered in data centers.
These all add up and provide a compelling case to move to a cloud-based system.
As we've mentioned, each business will have its unique needs that must be met during a cloud migration. Even with these unique needs, there is a common set of steps that all businesses must go through to implement a cloud migration successfully, such as looking at all of the costs involved in a migration.
Yes, there are benefits to be had for migrating to a cloud-based system, but there could be a steep learning curve that impacts your business for a period of time. The more you keep your employees informed on things, the higher the likelihood is that the transition will go smoothly and you will only experience a small blip in productivity.
Here are our last two pieces of advice:
- Work with an experienced advisor such as Zuar. We have the technical expertise to make your migration seamless. Plus, our one-on-one data strategy assessments are free, so take advantage and schedule one today.
- Invest in the right tools. Solutions are available to do the heavy-lifting for you. Zuar's Mitto, often referred to as an ELT or data staging tool, was developed for both on-premise and cloud deployments. This means you have advantages of both worlds but also being able to link them together. Mitto comes standard with a built in cloud database to be an end-all be-all solution, or can be used as a pipeline to move data from your on-premise environment to a cloud solution.
Mitto is able to act as a data pipeline by (1) connecting to your on-premise source system, whether it needs to happen via an API, database connection, or command line, (2) extracting all data, and (3) loading data into your cloud destination. Mitto has the added bonus of allowing you to transform the data if necessary and automating the entire process so you can sit back and let the data flow! Visit here to learn more about Mitto.