Talk with anyone about IT and chances are the word ‘Cloud’ will come up at some point in the conversation. Even before COVID-19, the Cloud was seen as a way for companies to reduce their IT costs to a more manageable level while increasing access to computing power and resources. However, getting a company’s on-premise IT Infrastructure migrated to the Cloud can be a complex endeavor. Between the incompatibility of legacy system and difference in monthly cost outlays, moving your infrastructure to the Cloud can quickly become a complex and costly endeavor. Though most of the major strategies for Cloud migration have already been laid out by the major Cloud providers, we here at Infoaxis are recommending seven best practices your company can employ to simplify moving to the Cloud.
1. Have the full picture of your current systems
Before you begin the process of selecting a provider for your new Cloud infrastructure, you need to compile a complete picture of your current IT environment. This may include systems or services you wish to retire or do not intend to migrate. Having a comprehensive picture will allow you to make a concrete decision about the type of Cloud environment you will need to optimize your business operations.
Your asset inventory should include every IT resource you have, from company routers, switches, and Wi-Fi hotspots, to the servers and backup vaults your data is on, right down to the laptop or desktop computers your employees use. Some of these items might seem inconsequential to your decisions regarding the Cloud, but you’d be surprised how even the smallest detail, such as type of laptop your employees are using, can affect the decisions you make going forward.
2. Know your Cloud options
Once you have a complete picture of your environment, you can begin to decide on the configuration of your Cloud environment. You will have to make many decisions about the level of responsibility you will maintain on your Cloud environment. Most Cloud environments generally come in three varieties as listed below. It’s important to note all Cloud environments are a mix of these varieties.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – The Cloud provider will give you the virtual servers needed to run your applications, but you must provide all the software needed to run them.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) – The provider will supply the software needed to run the servers, but you must provide all the applications needed for you to run your business.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) – The provider furnishes all the software needed for you to run your Cloud environment. You do not keep any part of the software, including the data, within the servers you manage.
Management Responsibilities for Cloud Computing Service Models (Image source: bmc.com)
3. Map backwards
With a knowledge of the options available to form your Cloud environment, you can begin to map each component in your current environment to a corresponding Cloud component. Think of what the ideal outcome would be for the components you are looking to migrate as you go through this exercise. Do you want to maintain them as they are or are you open to outsourcing their hosting to a provider to potentially save on cost?
As you answer these questions, you’ll begin to see how you want your ideal Cloud environment to look. You can then begin to map out which systems you want to migrate first. If your budget allows for the time and flexibility to do so, you may want to consider migrating lower priority systems first to smooth out any potential issues you come across.
4. Be open to alternatives
As you map your ideal Cloud environment, be sure to consider the alternatives the various Cloud options offer. For example, this may be a good opportunity to retire systems or services your company no longer needs or investigate new services to replace old ones. A Cloud migration offers a unique chance to explore the SaaS offerings of common software such as Microsoft Office or Salesforce. You may find moving to a SaaS offering will provide you with a greater remote reach and financial flexibility. Of course, not all legacy hardware and software are easy to convert. It may be necessary to keep some of your current components under your own ownership.
5. Ensure you have the right people in the right places
As you get a more complete picture of the type of Cloud environment you want and the providers you wish to use, you need to ensure you have the right talent to make it all happen. A fully implemented Cloud environment will be very different than your current infrastructure and require a different skill set for its operation and upkeep. Your current IT staff or Managed Service Provider may not be up to the task, so start taking steps now to retain, hire, or partner with the people who have the talent you will need.
6. Backup, backup, backup
This is a step you should be doing anyway, but even if you plan to migrate your current backup scheme to a new Cloud offering, now is the time to ensure your current backups are adequate for the migration. If anything goes wrong with the migration, your ability to recover will depend on the strength and efficiency of your backups. Consider running your current backups in parallel with any Cloud backups until you can ensure that, in the event of a disaster, your migrated backup scheme can help you quickly recover.
7. Consider working with a partner
Depending on your current IT environment, a Cloud migration can be a complex and time-consuming process. To help the process go more smoothly, consider working with a partner who has the expertise and experience needed to map out your migration process from beginning to end. Doing so will leave you more time to focus on your business and allow the experts to troubleshoot any issues that arise during system transitions.
At Infoaxis, we have a proven track record, having migrated many clients of various sizes and industries into the Cloud. Our team of experts can assist you in taking advantage of everything the Cloud has to offer. If you’re interested in putting our pros to work on your cloud migration, contact us.
About the Author:
Joshua Silberman, CISSP, CCSP, CISA, is a cybersecurity leader responsible for the direction, design, and development of Cloud Transformation and Cybersecurity at Infoaxis.
Reach Joshua at 201.236.3000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.