It is now widely accepted that Cloud computing can help small and midsize businesses (SMBs) lower operating expenses and improve application performance – and the public clouds are helping small businesses to either replace or supplement their on-premises IT needs.
While having a sound migration strategy in place is crucial, equally important is to ensure you know and understand the possible pitfalls that you may encounter, so you can mitigate risk during your transition.
One key to understanding the cloud, is there’s not a definitive one-size fits all model. The cloud space has many options in public and private cloud offerings. The simplest way to get started is to think small, because you can always expand your cloud footprint later. There is no need for you to have your entire on-premises data center in the cloud tomorrow. Keep in mind, there is nothing easy or quick about migrating your data to the cloud, even when starting small; however there is ample evidence to suggest that doing so yields a bounty of benefits.
Some of the important benefits realized by moving at least part of your data center workload to the cloud include:
- Scalability – Access as much or as little as you need, and scale up and down as needed in minutes. No longer do you need long-term contracts or complex licensing. Most scaling of your cloud environment can be completed in a matter of minutes and you only pay for the services you consume.
- Cost savings – Perhaps the number one reason why businesses move to the cloud is the cost savings associated with eliminating on-premises servers and adopting the “pay-as-you-go” approach. This structure of pricing allows you to easily adapt to changing business needs without overcommitting budgets and improving your responsiveness to changes. With a pay as you go model, you can adapt your business depending on need and not on forecasts, reducing the risk or over provisioning or missing capacity.
- Security – While many, new to cloud, assume that storing files and data in the cloud means opening up their business to additional security risks, the truth is actually the opposite. Today’s cloud solutions benefit from a data center and network architecture built to meet the requirements of the most security-sensitive organizations. Cloud space vendors typically manage dozens of compliance programs in its infrastructure. This means that segments of your compliance have already been completed.
- Relevancy – Especially if you are a technology business, it is becoming common practice to have at least a portion of your business migrated to the cloud. Not adopting the latest technology trends could have a negative impact on your employees and your business.
While realizing there can be a benefit to moving to the cloud space, one must always keep in mind that every business is unique, and that any stated benefits can and will vary by company.
Keys to a nearly flawless execution for cloud migration must include the following:
- Start small as you can always expand as needed. Don’t rush the migration process, and begin by moving applications that are a natural fit for the cloud first. Get a feel for the process before attempting the larger, more complex applications.
- Take your time and understand the risks involved. Understanding that all of your current applications and service level agreements, might not be supported when running in the cloud.
- Know your current environment intimately. Consider the application and know exactly what you are trying to accomplish by moving to the cloud, and allow plenty of time to properly tune, test, and optimize each app for the cloud.
- Consider virtualizing first. In most cases, it is much easier to move current workloads to the cloud if your servers have been virtualized prior to the process.
- Ensure your current security plan will translate to the cloud. If not, adapt as necessary. Factors to consider include, compliance requirements, cloud services management, and access.
- Implement a sound backup strategy. This will help mitigate data loss in the event of a disaster.
- Have an exit strategy. If things don’t work out, you will need to ensure that you have a plan to move to a different cloud service, or if needed, back to on-premises. Having a plan in place will help reduce the expense of taking data out of the cloud.
Some other important considerations when leveraging the cloud:
- Don’t hesitate to utilize the upper end of the technology stack, as high as you can stomach. IT professional’s first instinct is to mimic on premises workloads to the cloud, utilizing cloud-based virtual machines to replace existing virtualized on-premises workloads (IaaS). You can attain greater benefit by moving common workloads such as web services and databases to a PaaS provider. This would be the same for application, where a SaaS approach would allow for simplification of deployment, scaling, and management of the application.
- IT best practices are a must when moving to the cloud. It can be easy to forget that you are still responsible for the most basic IT duties, when the cloud provider is taking care of your infrastructure. Things to keep in mind, while your cloud infrastructure may be fully managed, your duties of managing security, integrating applications, and proactive end-to-end monitoring of your cloud presence will continue to be vital functions.
Author Bio: George Chanady is a Sr. Solutions Architect for CCSI. Experienced Senior Solutions Architect with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. Strong Technical professional skilled in Storage Area Network (SAN), Domain Name System (DNS), Data Center, BladeCenter, and Cloud Applications. Currently held certifications include MCSA and AWS Certified Solutions Architect.