Historically, large enterprise organizations have enjoyed a technological advantage over smaller competitors. The main reason for this disparity is money: Large organizations have larger budgets, so they can more easily absorb the costs of new hardware and training or hiring IT staff to support implementation and deployment.
That changed with the advent of cloud computing, which gives users access to cutting- edge hardware and applications without the need for a significant investment of time and money. As a result, more and more businesses, both large and small, are moving to the cloud.
If you’re considering moving your business to the cloud, there’s never been a better time to do it. But as with any change of direction, this switch requires careful execution in order to ensure it pays dividends for your company in the long run. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know to successfully move your business to the cloud.
1. Decide If It’s Right For You
There are plenty of reasons why moving to the cloud makes sense for a business, but there are also some business for whom cloud computing is likely to cause more problems than it would solve. Before you move your business to the cloud, you first need to determine whether it makes sense for your organization – and whether you have the infrastructure and the team in place to support the move.
Cloud-based services and applications are delivered to your business via the internet. That means that any time there’s an outage or planned downtime, your business will be unable to operate. Businesses with slow or unreliable internet might be able to upgrade their internet service (which means incurring more costs), but if you’re stuck with the internet you have, physical services are a better bet.
It’s also worth checking whether your core (or “line-of-business”) applications are cloud- compatible. Depending on your industry, some line-of-business applications only work on an on-premise server. And if your industry has strict compliance requirements regarding the physical location of your business data, you may not be able to move to the cloud.
2. Build A Business Case
determined whether a move to the cloud is feasible for your organization, the
next step is to lay out how the move will benefit your organization. The goal
is to assess where your business is now – especially your pain points and areas
of opportunity – and how you expect cloud-based services to address these
problems. For example, if your IT team spends the bulk of their time on
maintenance and troubleshooting issues with your on-premise server, moving to
the cloud will enhance their productivity by freeing up their time to focus on
Building a business case also helps you set realistic and manageable expectations for moving to the cloud. As valuable as this switch can be from a bottom-line standpoint, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not a panacea. Cloud-based services make it easier for your business to run smoothly and efficiently, but if there are bigger issues within your organization, they won’t magically disappear once you’ve made the switch.
3. Make A Plan
The next step is to map out how you envision the migration coming together. Depending on your business functions, there’s a chance that the move will have to come in phases to minimize disruption. Let’s say your company relies on three separate server-based applications. You can probably keep things running smoothly if one of those applications is unavailable during the migration; if two or all three are unavailable, though, your business operations will grind to a halt. Or, conversely, you might need all three to keep things running, so it would be smarter to migrate all three at once and condense your business downtime.
The planning phase is also your opportunity to identify potential issues or risks and create a strategy to address them should they arise. Ideally, the move will go off without a hitch, but it’s good to have a plan in place in the event that the migration doesn’t go as smoothly as you expect it to.
Planning doesn’t just refer to your network and applications, either: it also refers to your team. How will this migration impact your employees’ ability to do their jobs? If your IT staff is used to reacting to problems after they occur rather than anticipating and addressing them before they occur, they may struggle at first with a more proactive approach, making the move to the cloud more painful than it has to be. By considering these potential obstacles beforehand, you can work to address them before undertaking the migration.
4. Identify Your Options & Pick The Best Fit
By writing your business case and creating an action plan, you’ll have laid a strong foundation for the eventual move to the cloud. More importantly, you’ll have identified your business’ “have-to-haves,” which makes it easier to narrow down the list of potential providers and select one whose offerings best meet your needs. And since many cloud services have a “pay for use” structure, having this information will make it easier to determine which provider offers the best value for its services.
5. Don’t Rush It
picked the provider, it’s a good idea to start small. In all likelihood, the
migration will have some hiccups, so it’s better to test the waters by
migrating non- essential applications first. This gives you and your provider a
lower-stakes environment in which you can identify any issues in the migration
process. That way, when it comes
to the big-ticket items, those issues have been corrected; at the very least, your provider and your IT staff will have had the chance to come up with a workaround so your vital applications aren’t stuck in migration limbo when you need them most.
The early stages of the migration process are also your chance to stress-test your action plan and see how well it holds up. You may find that the perfect plan you envisioned for the migration is no longer feasible, and that’s okay – the most important thing is that the process is as quick and seamless as possible.
6. Manage The Process (And Your Risk)
In many ways, moving your business to the cloud is a lot like building a new office. You may not be performing the physical construction, but it’s your vision and you need to take a hands-on approach to ensure it’s implemented correctly. The migration process should be broken down into stages, and each completed stage should be tested and receive your final sign-off before moving on to the next one.
Being actively involved in moving your business to the cloud also helps you minimize the risk of your data being damaged or lost during the migration (another reason why you should start with non-essential applications). Losing non-critical data during a migration is frustrating, but it’s better than reaching the end of the process and realizing your essential business data is gone – and that, if you’d paid attention, you could have saved it.
7. Have A Backup Plan
When the migration is complete and your business is up and running on the cloud, you can relax a bit, but don’t let your guard down. Internet outages, natural disasters or service disruptions can occur at any time, so it’s important that you establish a contingency plan that can be rolled out at a moment’s notice if something goes wrong. You need to be able to access your data even if your connection to the cloud is severed, so make sure to regularly back up your data and store it locally.
If you’re ready to move your business to the cloud, CADA Connect is here to help. We can perform a business assessment to help you determine if cloud migration is the best move for your organization. We handle everything from building your list of requirements to sourcing the right vendor for your needs and your budget, and we can help manage every aspect of your cloud migration from beginning to end, so you can focus on continuing to grow your business.
Want to learn more? Contact us and we’ll set up a time to discuss your needs.