Cloud adoption rates continue to soar. Large organizations know they need to make the move to stay relevant, and small organizations know they need to migrate to compete. But you know the saying, “only fools rush in.” Before selecting a cloud provider to assist with the transition, there are some important factors to consider.
What You Need to Consider Before Migrating to the Cloud
1. Your Cloud Strategy
There are a number of cloud strategies which need to be carefully explored to ensure you make the move that’s right for you. It often comes down to cost, security, compliance, reliability, and support. Here is a quick recap of cloud strategies you’ll want to consider:
- On-Premise: An internal, physical infrastructure dedicated entirely to one user.
- Public Cloud: A large physical and virtual infrastructure shared with thousands or perhaps millions of users who may enjoy cost benefits due to economies of scale. Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, IBM Cloud, and Google Cloud are examples.
- Virtual Private Cloud (VPC): A virtual infrastructure that operates with a level of isolation between customers to provide better performance, flexibility, and security.
- Hybrid Cloud: A strategy in which a user separates workloads between on-premise servers and a public cloud or VPC, acting as one single “hybrid cloud.”
- Multi-Cloud: The strategy of utilizing multiple cloud providers for different workloads depending on needs and sensitivity of data.
2. Employee Preparation
A successful transition to the cloud requires that organizations keep employees in the loop to ensure they are on board with the move. IT employees can be the trickiest to handle; according to CIO Online, they may see the move as a loss of control, leading to pushback or complete resistance to cloud adoption. Resistance may lead to non-compliance with new policies, or negligence, both of which could threaten the security of your cloud solution. Employers should stress to their IT staff that having a cloud provider helps tackle day-to-day tasks like monitoring and updating, which frees up their time to innovate and become an internal service provider. For employees who may be comfortable with, or devoted to their current applications, show them the benefits of making the move to gain their support of new policies. This may include the flexibility to work from home, easier file sharing across departments, more efficient energy usage (going green is important to many), and the ability to offer better customer support.
3. Taking Baby Steps
For some organizations, jumping into the cloud all at once is a perfectly fine strategy. For the more tentative organizations, dipping a toe into the cloud may be the best option. Part of the beauty of the cloud is its scalability—you can move a little bit of data as a trial run, and when you’re ready to move more workloads, it’s no trouble to do so. So ask yourself, what data can I comfortably move? Then, take a gradual approach before making a complete transfer. This gives your IT pros time to adjust; it allows your finance team time to prepare; and it’s less disruptive for all employees in general. It also allows you to get a feel for your provider; if they’re not the perfect match, moving on will be easier if you haven’t made a complete crossover.
4. Learning From Others’ Mistakes
The cost of cyber crime damage is projected to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021. If you’ve been paying attention to the headlines, this should come as no surprise. Ransomware and data breaches continue to dominate IT news, with prominent companies such as Delta, Boeing, Sears, and Best Buy all being targeted in 2018; government and healthcare organizations are also prime ransomware targets, and entire cities are at risk as we saw earlier this year in Atlanta. Some of these breaches were a result of human error (the leak of 6 million voters’ information at the Georgia Secretary of State Office is attributed to a single systems programmer); some were caused by an organization’s failure to properly backup data; and others were due to security failures on behalf of a vendor. If there is any sort of silver lining to these attacks, it’s that with each one we can learn something new, whether it’s the value of employee education, the need for regular updates, or the importance of carefully vetting software and cloud vendors.
5. The 3-2-1 Back-up Rule
A move to the cloud doesn’t mean the days of backing up are done. Organizations should be following the 3-2-1 rule of backup. The rule states:
- 3 copies of your data should be maintained
- 2 independent storage mediums should be used
- 1 backup copy should be stored offsite
This means that in addition to storing online backups in the cloud, organizations still need to maintain two independent storage mediums, such as an internal hard drive plus a removable medium (tapes, external hard drives, USBs, etc) or two internal hard drives stored in different locations.
6. The Fine Print
There are some unscrupulous cloud providers out there looking only to make money, so always read the fine print. For example, some public cloud providers allow for a free upload of data, which sounds great for those looking to migrate on the cheap. But there’s a catch: if and when you want your data back, they may charge you thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars. Even worse? Some public cloud software never returns the data; at least, not in a usable format. Organizations have had to essentially rebuild their data and setup new software, with no option for recourse against the cloud provider. So before you get involved with a cloud provider of any type, be sure to get it in writing that your data will be returned to you in the exact way you provided it, at a cost that is acceptable to you.
Considering a move to the cloud? DSM, Florida’s predictable cloud provider, can easily and seamlessly migrate you to the cloud. Our VPC offering is designed for business, healthcare, and government, meeting compliance standards and exceeding industry standards for uptime and recovery. Interested in learning more? Speak with one of our IT experts today.