According to Forbes, 77% of enterprises have at least one application or a portion of their enterprise-computing infrastructure in the cloud. Chances are you’re one them or you’re looking to join the ranks. The shift is a natural progression when looking for improved flexibility, reliability, security and cost savings. It allows enterprises to direct previously siphoned resources toward business drivers and development projects rather than becoming bogged down with routine maintenance.
The benefits of migrating to the cloud aside, under no circumstances should you dive in head-first under the impression it will be simple. It costs money, and it takes time — but it’s time and money well spent. According to Gartner research, cloud services can be more expensive upfront compared to on-premise data centers, but that same research shows cloud services become more cost effective over time if organizations learn how to use them properly and efficiently.
For the cloud to cut costs, enterprises must avoid the pitfalls. You may already be worried about handling sensitive data, compliance challenges and business interruptions, and you should be. That way, you can strategically plan and outsource where needed to make sure the job is done nothing short of perfect. But it’s crucial not to overlook what can go wrong, and plan to prevent those mishaps.
Assessing Migration Needs and Readiness
Migration to the cloud begins with assessment. Generally, this means creating in-depth documentation covering hardware, data locations and software licenses. A system map created in collaboration with your team and cloud partner serves as a guidepost for determining cloud needs. It’s pivotal that your IT team conducts an assessment of the legacy system to establish need and readiness for cloud migration.
Send surveys and gather input from everyone who interacts with your legacy system. While it can be a time-consuming process to untangle years of systems built on top of systems, it is crucial for a successful migration. It leads to an established plan that outlines a step-by-step “legacy to cloud” process.
Managing the Risk of Disrupting Business Operations
In addition to hard changeover dates, a flexible timeline should be in the periphery. Factor in disruptions or downtime to key enterprise projects. If necessary, migration can take place outside of business hours (nights and weekends) to avoid continuity interruptions. Potential lost time or productivity due to downtime should be worked into the cost analysis when setting a budget for cloud migration.
A cloud changeover includes various phases: planning (budget, timeline and expectations), the migration itself (transforming data to proper transfer format before loading to the new, pre-mapped system) and post-migration (testing and staff training). A full data audit prior to migration that identifies data format, location and sensitivity is essential. In addition, all data being moved must be backed up to ensure it can be fully restored to its previous format.
Here’s a checklist of key points to cover during the planning phase so you can minimize and avoid disruptions:
- Timeline: Create a realistic anticipated length for the migration process accounting for disruptions that might intersect with crucial fiscal or production dates.
- Security: Examine any specific security risks your enterprise faces due to factors like user accessibility. Define permissions regarding public network versus secure internet connection and define access controls and authentication measures.
- Compliance: Depending on your industry, you may need to protect your data under specific regulations. Work with your cloud provider and architect to ensure compliance requirements are built into functionality.
- Cost: Project short-term and long-term savings stemming from migrating to cloud services from your legacy solutions. Calculating downtime costs during the transition is also important. The same goes for post-migration expenses, including ongoing integration, app testing, compliance training and maintenance fees.
- Service-level agreement (SLA): Flexibility for increases and decreases in IP service based on demand is beneficial for adding and subtracting resources without incurring long-term costs.
Preserving Sensitive Data During a Changeover
The compliance conversation needs to take place early. When collaborating with a cloud provider, ensure that migration includes plans for your data to be encrypted both at rest and during transit. While sensitive data should always be protected and encrypted, it’s particularly vulnerable when it’s moving from one location to another. There are additional security protocols and controls your cloud provider should take. This is also the time to assess and categorize data vulnerability levels using data management tools that provide overviews of your domain.
Depending on your industry, your cloud migration may require audits for HIPAA, Sarbanes Oxley, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act at every stage of data movement. Informing your clients that their records will be moved or handled by a third-party cloud firm may also be required. These audits exist to ensure data remains secure, but it can also cut overall project, storage and liability costs.
Training Team Members to Reap the Full Benefits
Skilling up is paramount if you want to take full advantage of the newly released time and capital. If your team doesn’t use the cloud correctly (or even fully understand it), it’s hard to reap the full benefits of cost and time savings, and the lack of understanding may increase your risk for security breaches. Training is a critical aspect of effective migration. Prior to cloud integration, staff members who will interact with or have access to data should receive data-hygiene training.
Following migration, white-hat training (which means ethically exposing potential vulnerabilities by exploiting breach points caused by both user habits and architecture gaps) can be essential for protecting data. This often means bringing in an outside vendor to train and test.
Implementing URL Redirection and SSL Certificates
When finalizing migration, focus on redirecting sites with HTTPS links once they’ve made the move from an on-premise server to the cloud. After installing SSL, it’s crucial to implement redirects that force traffic through your secure SSL. If you’re hosting public-facing domains, it’s especially important to make sure you’re using HTTPS with properly provisioned SSL certificates. SEO rankings prefer secured sites.
You can streamline operations using third-party solutions that take the weight off your internal staff. For example, many enterprises outsource URL redirection to keep their internal operations focused on the bigger picture. EasyRedir takes the tedious task off your team’s plate, and you receive the benefit of having both URL redirection and SSL certificate activation and renewal handled in tandem. (Want to learn more? Check out our free whitepaper on URL redirection management.)
The Conclusion on Cloud Computing
From a collaboration perspective, a cloud-powered setup enables users to collaborate on documents and ideas in real-time, access files from anywhere, and view editing histories without the bottlenecks that go along with traditional document sharing. The result is often better, faster and more collaborative output among team members working anywhere on the globe. If you’re contemplating migrating to the cloud, know that the switch can be seamless as long as meticulous planning is involved. At the forefront of successful migration is connecting with a cloud vendor equipped to handle your enterprise’s scale and compliance needs.