Planning your move to the cloud: Tips, Tricks and Pitfalls

As we discussed in our previous post, there are many upsides to moving your IT operations over to at least a hybrid cloud computing solution. However, this is not the kind of thing where you flip a switch and are good to go (if only!).

We are constantly meeting with new clients who come to us because they tried to make the transition but failed to consider the technology challenges, business considerations of working with 3rd party cloud providers, and internal business considerations related to non-technology impacts upon the business from moving to the cloud.

With this in mind, we wanted to share the wealth and help ensure that you don’t fall prey to the most common mistakes. Below are the primary considerations you want to make sure you keep in mind before making your move to the cloud:

    Understand the Total Cost of Ownership
    One of the most common mistakes we see enterprises make when moving their IT operations to the cloud is using the wrong metrics to determine whether migrating an application to the cloud is actually saving them money. We recommend implementing a use-based accounting system to measure the actual cost of your cloud solution (and running those numbers before you start the process!). It is also worth taking a step back and determining which applications can be moved to the cloud in a cost-effective way – it doesn’t have to be all or nothing!
    Rethink Governance & Security
    We have seen many cloud migrations disrupt organizations’ governance strategies, because the methods they used for traditional on-premises systems typically don’t work for the cloud. When an organization shifts its IT operations to the public cloud, its control decreases and more responsibility falls on the shoulders of the cloud providers. For this reason, we recommend that organizations think about evolving their governance and security strategies to rely less on internal control and more on their provider (meaning you better ensure your provider’s certifications are up-to-date before you jump into bed with them!).
    Remember Existing Data Center Investment
    Outsourcing a server’s data and functionality to the cloud may mean abandoning your on-premise investments unless you can repurpose them. It is important to think about whether you will migrate to the cloud in step-wise fashion (a strategy we highly recommend), meaning that you’ll slowly phase out your on-premise network, or whether you will migrate everything to the cloud all at once. If you choose a step-wise process, you then need to plan how you will establish secure communications between that on-premises network and your new cloud-based virtual network.
    Consider Application Functionality on the Cloud
    Moving your organization’s applications to the cloud is typically not a big problem for newer applications that run on top of modern operating systems. But it is still critical to think about their performance and portability. In terms of performance, will your (lack of) Internet bandwidth impede applications’ performances? Do you need to upgrade your service? In the case of portability, do any of your applications depend on an Active Directory or other external resources that would complicate or prevent their migration to the cloud? For older applications that run on legacy operating systems, a move to the cloud may not even be an option. So it’s important to test everything before migrating in order to avoid unwanted surprises.

Cloud Computing is without a doubt the future of organizational IT operations, but it also raises its own particular issues. It is crucial that you give due consideration to each of these common pitfalls before migrating to the cloud to ensure a smooth, positive transition for your organization. We’re always in favor of asking for help, and this is definitely a case where you shouldn’t be afraid to turn to the experts! If you don’t have the IT expertise in-house to work through each step of a cloud migration, save yourself a big headache and reach out to a 3rd party MSP or consultant in order to make sure you get it right the first time!