10 Tips for a Seamless Migration to the Cloud

There are two primary motivations for transferring enterprise applications, IT infrastructure and maintenance tasks to cloud services. These are the avoidance of fixed costs and the acquisition of technical advantages such as faster processing, increased connectivity, lower latency and, hopefully, increased end-user satisfaction.

Newer, smaller companies forgo the significant startup expenses of servers, data centers and the personnel to manage these. To larger, established enterprises wanting a more elastic and flexible IT footprint, the appeal of SaaS and scalable, on-demand infrastructure is undeniable.

Having answered the “whys” that leaves the questions of what, how and when to move to the cloud waiting for answers. Those responses require further analysis to ensure your organization’s move to cloud services is done efficiently, safely and garners the results you expect. Here are 10 tips to help you analyze the effort and reap the benefits of cloud migration.

10 Tips for Migration to the Cloud

1. Making a Short List of Cloud Providers

Due diligence in selecting cloud providers helps you sort out the good from the ugly and simultaneously contributes to a matrix of comparison attributes including pricing, functional capabilities, scale times up and down, geographical coverage, security and privacy standards and SLA requirements. Involve as many business units as possible in initial evaluations to assist in uncovering unforeseen issues.

2. Go over SLAs with a Fine-Tooth Comb

How strict and detailed your SLA requirements are depends on your particular business and its location. Be 100 percent sure that your cloud provider understands any compliance issues that pertain to your enterprise. Your regulatory landscape may include Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the EU Data Protection Directive and PIC-DSS among others.

3. Sorting Out Security and Privacy Issues

Address any and all concerns regarding privacy, security and control directly to your cloud provider. Business-critical apps and data should receive the most scrutiny, especially where customer information is involved. Ask providers if they offer at least the same level of security that exists now and insist on SLAs that match your expectations for availability and functionality.

4. Selecting Prime Migration Candidates

Not all mission-critical enterprise applications are equal in terms of use and uniqueness. Less frequently used apps or those easily replaced by existing cloud services should move to the top of the migration candidate list. Examples are email or HR applications such as benefits administration, recruitment or relocation. Other established cloud services, such as CRM, make replacement of in-house versions obvious migration candidates.

5. Testing Replacement Cloud Services

Replacing in-house applications with cloud services requires extra care. Except in trivial cases, there are likely to be misalignments between functionality, data formats, APIs and response latency. Run detailed porting trials to assess the degree of mismatch from which you can make a cost vs. effort estimate for migrating to a replacement cloud service.

6. Test Before You Leap

If there are pending configuration, testing or maintenance tasks for components slated for migration, ensure these get done before the move. The changeover is unlikely to be completely bump-free, so eliminating as many hiccups before the migration on your own servers reduces the amount of post-migration work you will encounter.

7. Take a Baseline Snapshot

Create a baseline in terms of performance, maintenance costs and functionality for each migration candidate. Once the cloud-based replacement is well-established, evaluate it against the baseline to see if it is achieving the expected results.

8. Start Training as Early as Possible

Seek out employees with cloud experience to form a training team. The team creates a training plan for other employees who will use, maintain and monitor the new cloud services or infrastructure. If team members have bought-in to the migration, they can assuage uncertainty among existing staff.

9. Create a Contingency Plan

Especially if this migration is your first, it is prudent to develop a back-out plan in the unlikely event that the migration fails. Keep your in-house component viable for a few weeks until the organization’s confidence level in the migration is high.

10. Perform Post-Migration Analysis

You are unlikely to migrate the entire enterprise set of data, apps and services wholesale unless yours is a small company. In any case, treat cloud migration as an ongoing process. Post-migration analysis reveals innumerable ways to improve future migrations and maintain buy-in to what is a long-term process.

Cloud migration of enterprise resources is not a decision taken lightly nor is it always simple to accomplish. If thorough analyses are performed, and care is taken in the selection of cloud providers and which resources to migrate then the process should be relatively smooth. Proper base-lining and performance monitoring is essential in order to objectively evaluate the rewards of your efforts.