1. Know what cloud technology is
Sounds simple right? Well, there are a lot of cloud solutions out there, including on-premises Enterprise Cloud, hosted cloud providers, and hyperscale providers such as Microsoft with Azure and Amazon with Amazon Web Services. We see a lot of hosted cloud providers simply providing a co-location hosting server wrapped in a monthly finance package. Here’s a quick checklist to help you to identify an ‘actual’ cloud provider (hint: if you answer ‘No’ to any then you’re probably not looking at a genuine cloud solution):
2. Understand what technology you’re moving to the cloud
Like any journey, it’s important to know your starting position – it’s the same with a cloud migration journey. Before considering the financial and operational impacts of moving to the Cloud; you need to fully understand the IT environment you are looking to migrate. There can be a lot of ‘gotchas’, such as legacy applications that are unsuitable for the target cloud environment (more on this in number 4 below), or high CPU & GPU load applications that could prove expensive to cloud host.
3. Consider a Hybrid Cloud IT infrastructure
The term Hybrid Cloud is often used to explain away why an organisation hasn’t fully adopted the Cloud, usually due to some of the reasons above and below. To us, it’s a way of describing a phased, managed approach to cloud adoption.
A hybrid approach allows us to provide a solution to our clients that delivers the benefits of cloud computing, where it can be achieved; whilst leveraging on-premises and private cloud (or co-located) technologies for those elements of an IT infrastructure that, for operational or financial reasons, aren’t quite ready for the cloud.
Many also choose to opt for a hybrid cloud option for data sovereignty. Some organisations hold large amounts of sensitive data, much of which they would prefer to keep onsite or in a private or on-premises cloud rather than an off-site data centre. Hybrid Cloud allows for sensitive data and legacy applications to be hosted on-premises whilst less sensitive data and migratable apps to be hosted in the cloud, the ideal solution.
A cloud partner or cloud specialist will be able to advise on on-premises vs cloud or whether hybrid is right for you. Bespoke cloud and hybrid solutions can be developed to suit you.
4. Learn whether your legacy apps and IT systems can migrate to the cloud
Love them or hate them, they’re key to the running of your organisation, and a cloud-based alternative may be too costly, or several years way.
As mentioned above, legacy applications are the single biggest reason that complete cloud adoption cannot be achieved by our clients. So what do we do about them? Simple, where possible we’ll move them onto the Microsoft Azure platform, and then publish them back to client devices. If that doesn’t work due to operating system restrictions, then we can always fall back on on-premises servers (preferably hyper-converged) to deliver them.
5. Understand the varying IT needs of your employees
Not all users are created equal, and understanding their specific requirements is the key to building a business case for cloud adoption. It’s also the key for ensuring that you don’t become the target for a lot of frustrated users if things go wrong.
By mapping out the different categories of users, and their particular IT requirements; we can more accurately predict the correct blend of technologies required and their associated operational costs. For example, the requirements of IT for your office staff may vary from those out in the field carrying out hands-on roles.
Finally, and this one is rather important: pilot the chosen technologies to confirm that your business case, and the user experience, is as expected, before committing to a major cloud migration.
6. Consider the user experience of your chosen technology
Speaking of ‘user experience’, let’s face it, your users don’t care about scalability, resilience, and cost benefits. They just want IT to be what we call a “quiet enabler”, and they’re going to judge your shiny new cloud solution with their own set of criteria, for example:
We work with clients to start the solution design process with the above list at its heart, not as an afterthought when things don’t go right.
7. Ensure your connectivity is strong enough to support cloud
Whilst your cloud provider is taking care of the infrastructure resilience (hopefully!); you still need to be able to connect to it to be able to work.
Under investing in broadband connectivity, or not ensuring that the connection is resilient, is the number one cause of outages following a cloud migration. Good connectivity is cheap (and getting cheaper by the day): please don’t scrimp on this key area – you will regret it.
8. Think about how you’ll migrate to the cloud with minimal disruption to your business
Don’t make your users’ first experience of the new Cloud solution a bad one. The first time they should realise that they have moved to a new environment is when they are introduced to the cool new features available to them.
Extensive use of migration automation technologies mean that we are able to move clients from their on-premises infrastructure, to the Cloud, with little to no interruption to service; and little to no action required on the users’ parts.
9. Manage your technology costs
Costs Creep – it’s very easy. We have just won a new client who is paying for 150 Microsoft 365 licences for their 105 users. They are also entitled to utilise Academic licenses for over half of their users and hadn’t been told of this fact by their incumbent.
Their reason for choosing us as a partner is that they are looking to grow from 105 users, to over 500 users in the next three years. They want to do so with a partner that is as concerned about their monthly billing, as they are. A true partner should be working on your behalf to find the optimum licensing and virtual infrastructure instances on a monthly basis.
10. Innovation through cloud technology should be business as usual
I would describe Microsoft as something of an Innovation Factory. Although I’m sure many of you would have your own way of describing Microsoft; I’m comfortable with my choice. According to Microsoft, in 2020 they spent over $17 billion in research and development, and that shows in the constant stream of innovations delivered in the last 12 months. That’s why we partner with Microsoft for cloud hosting through Microsoft Azure and for their productivity and collaboration platforms through the likes of Microsoft 365.
Keeping our partners appraised of Microsoft’s developments has become a full-time job for us. If you’re not constantly being advised of new ways of innovating with your investment in Microsoft, then you might want to consider another Microsoft partner.
We hope that our top 10 tips for migrating to the cloud have provided you with some help and guidance when thinking about your business. If you’d like to speak to a member of our team regarding cloud migration simply fill out the form below and we’ll get in touch as soon as possible.