Cloud migration: A step-by-step guide

In this guest post, Paul Mercina, director of product management, at datacentre hardware and maintenance provider ParkPlace Technologies offers a step-by-step guide about how, what and when to move to the cloud.

 The benefits of using cloud are multiple, but the process of migrating a company’s IT systems off-premise (while simultaneously ensuring ‘business as usual’ for staff, customers and the supply chain) is not without its challenges.

While investing in the cloud will result in less on-site hardware and fewer applications for IT managers to manage, this may not necessarily translate into less work to do.

Cloud computing depends on a significant amount of oversight to ensure suppliers are meeting service level agreements, keeping to budget and cloud sprawl is kept to a minimum.

This vital work requires a different skill set, so you will need to consider upskilling and retraining staff to manage their evolving roles.

Developing a robust cloud migration strategy alongside this work will be a must, and there are few things to bear in mind when seeking to create one.

Cloud migration: Preparation is everything

As the global cloud market matures, CIOs are increasingly presenting compelling business cases for cloud adoption. Moving all your IT systems to the cloud instantly may have strong appeal, but in reality, this is unrealistic. Not everything can or should be moved, and you will also need to consider the order of migration and impact on business and staff.

Considering the unique needs of your organisation will be critical to developing a plan that unlocks the benefits of the cloud without compromising security, daily business activities, existing legacy systems or wasting budget.

Many applications and services are still not optimised for virtual environments, let alone the cloud. Regardless of how ambitious a company’s cloud strategy is, it’s likely you will have a significant datacentre footprint remaining to account for important data and applications.

Supporting these systems can be an ongoing challenge, particularly as organisations place more importance, budget and resource into the cloud.

Cloud migration: The importance of interim planning

Mapping a cloud migration strategy against long-, mid- and short-term goals can be helpful. The long term plan may be to move 80% of your applications and data storage to the cloud; however in the short term you will need to consider how you will maintain accessibility and security of existing data, hardware and applications while cloud migration takes place.

Third party suppliers can help maintain legacy systems and hardware during the transition to ease disruption and ensure business continuity.

In line with this, cloud migration will inevitably involve the retirement of some hardware. From a security perspective it’s imperative to ensure any stored data is secured to avoid exposing your organisation to the risk of data breaches.

Many organisations underestimate hard drive-related security risks or assume incorrectly that routine software management methods provide adequate protection.

Cloud migration: Meeting in the middle

Moving to the cloud often creates integration challenges, leaving IT managers to find ways to successfully marry up on-premise hardware with cloud-hosted systems.

In many cases, this involves making sure the network can handle smooth data transmissions between various information sources. However, getting cloud and non-cloud systems to work with one another can be incredibly difficult, involving complex projects that are not only difficult to manage, but also complicated by having fewer resources for the internal facility.

Cloud migration: Budget management challenges

With more budget being transferred off site for cloud systems and other IT outsourcing services, many IT managers are left with less to spend on their on-site IT infrastructure.

The financial pressure mounts as more corporate datacentres need to take on cloud attributes to keep up with broad technology strategies. Finding ways to improve IT cost efficiency is vital to addressing internal data centre maintenance challenges.

Cloud migration: Post-project cost management

Following a cloud migration, retained legacy IT systems age, so it is worth investigating if enlisting the help of a third-party maintenance provider might be of use.

A third-party maintenance provider can give IT managers the services they need, in many cases, for almost half the cost. The end result is that IT teams can have more resources to spend on the internal datacentre and are better prepared to support the systems that are still running in the on-site environment.

While hardware maintenance plans may not solve every problem, they provide a consistent source of fiscal and operational relief that makes it easier for IT teams to manage their data storage issues as they arise.

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