The organization must also take the time to define the metrics that will gauge the success of a cloud migration. Planning is one thing, making the transition another, but realizing the demonstrable business benefits is critical to illustrate to stakeholders how the migration has delivered value. As such, clear information must be communicated to all stakeholders that will be impacted by the move – internally and externally. Employees must buy into the strategic reasons and embrace the positive effect it will have on the company culture. They should also be upskilled and reskilled accordingly, in order to extract the maximum benefit from going the cloud route.
Defining Cloud Migration
This is all well and good, but let’s take a step back for a minute and be sure we understand what exactly is meant by ‘cloud migration’. It can be defined as the process of relocating a company’s data, applications, and workloads to a cloud infrastructure. A company may decide to locate all its computing assets to a cloud or keep some applications and services on-premise. There are reasons for both.
In the latter case, there might be a need for continuous access to certain applications or data. If the internet connection goes down, the company would be unable to use those services. Furthermore, depending on the regulatory requirements of the country/ies your organization has offices in, there might be compliance issues if data is stored outside those borders. Or, at the most basic level, it could merely be a matter of your organization not trusting the cloud service provider to safeguard certain mission-critical applications or data adequately.
Migration can also involve one or several clouds—some public, and some private. Many companies use multiple clouds, often a mix of both public and private, also known as a hybrid cloud model. Going the hybrid cloud route can deliver improved scalability and control and allow the organization to leverage the specific strengths of each service provider. For instance, cloud provider A might deliver feature-rich high-performance computing solutions, while cloud provider B delivers superior collaboration tools and document hosting.
Benefits of the Cloud
Regardless of the business reasons for moving to the cloud, several advantages go beyond cost efficiencies and scalability. Perhaps one of the most essential aspects of migrating is security. The major cloud providers offer some of the most secure environments and comply with relevant industry standards and government regulations. Cloud-specific security solutions, best practices, and policies are maintained by cloud providers regularly and for scale. However, organizations must not neglect the shared responsibility model. So, while the cloud provider safeguards everything stored in their data centers, the company must take responsibility for securely moving its data there and ensuring the link between the environments remains secure.
Equally important, migrating to the cloud empowers an organization to adopt new technologies more rapidly. This enables far more effective modernization and facilitates digital transformation at a much larger scale than individual, bespoke projects. Driving this is the ability to gain real-time insights into data at the company's disposal and a unified view of its environment from behind a single pane of glass.
Tools to Consider
Whether it is Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, or any other major (or minor) cloud environment, each requires dedicated tools to assist in the transition. For every component available in the cloud, each cloud service provider has its own terminologies, solutions, and ways of configuring services. This sees the introduction of unique databases, ETL (extract, transform, load) procedures for copying data from one source to another, and the like. Small wonder then that making the right decision is an arduous process for even the most seasoned CIO.
Choosing the right tool is therefore heavily dependent on which cloud service provider is selected. And if it is a multi-cloud environment your company is looking to adopt, ensuring the correct configuration between them and the on-premise infrastructure will be vital.
The availability of reliable open source solutions provides a level of customizability and flexibility that vendor-specific options do not have. The challenge with this is that it requires organizations to have in-house software development skills. Failing that, outsourcing the cloud migration to a trusted partner that can help design and implement the plan, select the tools, and identify the best service provider(s) can also be an option.
The past year has highlighted the importance of embracing a digitally transformed business environment to enable employees to work remotely and access cloud-based solutions. If your organization has yet to make a move or to do so at a greater scale—now is the time to do so or risk losing relevance and/or compromising your business continuity.