Making the transition to cloud computing and storage is an important step that you can take right now to significantly improve efficiency. However, making this transition can be a complicated and costly) process especially if you use an inefficient cloud migration strategy.
To transition to the cloud smoothly, you need an effective plan based on your organization’s financial situation, existing infrastructure, and staff. Here are the steps you should follow and things to consider before you start the transition.
What is the Best Cloud Migration Strategy?
A cloud migration strategy is a customizable roadmap for adopting new cloud technologies into your existing business state. This migration process looks different for every industry and enterprise.
For example, some business owners want to use cloud applications or platforms, so they should focus on creating user-friendly systems, moving important data to the cloud, and training staff on how to use the new system. Other business owners might be more interested in using cloud computing to improve data analytics, so they’ll want to focus on choosing the right analytics software.
Regardless of why you want to transition to the cloud, every business owner needs to follow the same three basic steps:
- Create a budget and analyze the financial implications;
- Build your cloud architecture; and
- Train your staff to use and trust the new cloud system.
As you go through these three steps, you’ll also encounter a number of smaller tasks you’ll need to complete as well. These smaller steps vary depending on what you plan on doing with your new cloud system and whether you already have some of the tools required to implement your strategy. Sometimes this process is very simple. Other times it’s incredibly complicated and difficult.
This is why you should look more closely at each of these three steps to determine exactly what you need to do to successfully transition to the cloud. Like any great roadmap, when you know what’s ahead of you, you’ll make wiser decisions.
Step 1: Consider the Financial Implications
Every effective cloud migration strategy should include a sensible budget and a careful accounting of how the cloud will impact your bottom line.
One of the challenges of migrating to the cloud is that it completely changes the way you do business. This can cause an increase or decrease in your total cost of operations.
But how do you know what impact the cloud will have on operational costs? It depends on factors like:
- Current expenditures (what you typically spend per month on factors like IT staff salaries, equipment maintenance, servers, software licenses, on-premise data storage, etc.);
- Projected expenditures (the expected cost of operations after you eliminate any of the factors above that are going to be obsolete when you move to the cloud); and
- Funds set aside for the initial transition (hiring a cloud computing firm, loss of profit due to expected downtime, additional staff training, overtime payments, etc.).
To come up with an accurate budget for your cloud migration strategy, have your company’s CIO and CFO share a thorough accounting of every current operational cost.
Next, you should determine which expenses you will eliminate when you make the transition. For example, most companies eliminate the need for on-premise servers when they switch to offshore cloud computing. This means that they will save money on server maintenance, IT staff, and the rental space used to store the servers.
Finally, you can create your migration budget based on projected cost savings. Any money that you save due to fewer operational expenditures or the sale of outdated hardware and other equipment can be put toward the migration process.
The upfront costs of cloud migration are often quite high, so it’s important to save as much as you can before you make the transition. Long-term, you’ll likely see significant cost savings from efficiency.
Step 2: Prepare Your Infrastructure for the Transition
Even if you plan on moving all of your business operations to the cloud, you’ll still need a plan for your company’s future infrastructure. Cloud infrastructure is just as important as physical infrastructure. It needs to be strong and scalable.
One of the biggest mistakes that business owners make when they create their cloud migration strategies is to rely on outdated best practices that don’t apply to modern cloud-based systems.
For example, if you’ve always stored sensitive data on magnetic tape in a room protected by keys or access codes, then you might apply a similar security strategy to your cloud-based infrastructure. However, [LINK TO CLOUD SECURITY POST WHEN LIVE today’s cloud security is more complex]—you need more than just an access code or password to keep sensitive data safe. Instead, you’ll have to structure your system around additional cloud security measures like encryption, two-factor authentication, and frequent software patches.
To smoothly transition to the cloud, you need to look into the latest technology architecture best practices. Some of these best practices are:
- Data backups, especially for critical data
- Intentional data storage (never storing more data than you absolutely need)
- Adaptable tools (avoiding cloud supplier lock-in)
- Actionable data
- User-friendly, intuitive platforms
This is a lot to handle, especially if you have a small IT team or very little experience designing a cloud-based infrastructure from scratch. This is why many business owners hire offshore IT firms to develop this infrastructure for them.
Step 3: Get Your Staff On Board
Once you have a reasonable migration budget and you have designed the ideal infrastructure for your cloud-based system, you’ll need to ready your staff for the final transition. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Employees are often used to working on tasks in a certain way and may be resistant to sudden change.
To make this transition as smooth as possible, you should use a cloud-based system that doesn’t require any extensive training or technical knowledge. If the system has a steep learning curve, then your staff are more likely to make costly mistakes while using it. It will also take much longer to complete the transition and get back to a normal operating schedule.
Simplifying your cloud system is one way to make the transition easier. The problem is that it isn’t always possible. For example, if you need to perform complex data analysis, you can’t cut corners to make the system simpler. If you do, the quality of your data analysis will suffer.
To overcome this challenge, you can hire an IT expert to build your company a customized, advanced software system from scratch. This is very expensive and time-consuming. Alternatively, you can license an existing analytics tool and train your staff on how to use it properly. This is also time-consuming. It also leads to discontent, since employees might feel like they’re putting in more effort than usual or may ask for a higher salary to compensate for the added workload.
This is why one of the best cloud migration strategies is to hire a third-party IT firm. An offshore IT team can handle the complicated or tedious tasks that your onsite staff doesn’t have the time or expertise to deal with themselves. You’ll get a team of IT experts who already understand how to use the latest data analytics software, no matter how complex it is. Meanwhile, your onsite IT team won’t waste time learning how to install and troubleshoot the new system. You’ll have the best of both worlds: a complex, efficient cloud system and a happy, productive IT staff.
Should You Use Your Own Cloud Migration Strategy?
As you can see, designing a cloud migration strategy is a complicated process. You have to understand modern cloud best practices and consider how to implement them based on your budget, infrastructure, and staffing limitations.
In most cases, it’s easier, cheaper and less time-consuming to hire a third-party cloud migration specialist to create a plan for you. Experts who have experience helping businesses transition to the cloud already know how to work within a budget, build an efficient cloud architecture, and train staff to use the new system.
Moreover, this option gives you more freedom to monitor the transition carefully and embrace your role as a leader. You’ll spend less time crunching numbers, negotiating workloads with your IT team, and researching software features. Instead, you can have meaningful, high-level discussions with your team to ensure everyone is supported as your company makes this exciting change.