Embracing the cloud may be a cost-effective business solution, but moving data from one platform to another can be an intimidating step for technology leaders.

In fact, ensuring smooth integration between the cloud and traditional infrastructure is one of the top challenges for CIOs.

Analyst reports such as Harvey Nash / KPMG 2016 CIO survey confirmed it after interviewing thousands of technology decision-makers from different verticals. The study found that 47 percent of respondents are concerned about integration with existing architecture.

Together with security concerns, this is one of the significant issues CIOs face when considering cloud adoption and strategies.

After all, server migrations do involve a certain degree of risk. Downtime and data loss are two critical scenarios to be aware of before starting the process.

Given the possible consequences, it is worth evaluating the risks. With that in mind, spending time on developing a robust data migration strategy is worth the effort. If you are unsure what cloud computing is, take a look at our recent article.

Take a look at some of the crucial cloud migration steps you need to ensure successful implementation.

planning your move with a cloud migration checklist

1. Create a cloud migration checklist

Before you start reaping the benefits of cloud computing, you first need to understand the potential migration challenges that may arise.

Only then can you develop a checklist or plan that will ensure minimal downtime and ensure a smooth transition.

There are many challenges involved with the decision to move from on-premise architecture to the cloud. Finding a cloud technology provider that can meet your needs is the first one. After that, everything comes down to planning each step.

The very migration is the tricky part since some of your company’s data might be unavailable during the move. You may also have to take your in-house servers temporarily offline. To minimize any negative consequences, every step should be determined ahead of time.

With that said, you need to remain willing to change the plan or rewrite it as necessary in case something brings your applications and data to risk.

meeting to go over cloud migration strategy

2. Which Cloud Solution To Choose, Public, Hybrid, Private?

Public Cloud

A public cloud provides service and infrastructure off-site through the internet. While public clouds offer the best opportunity for efficiency by sharing resources, it comes with a higher risk of vulnerability and security breaches.

Public clouds make the most sense when you need to develop and test application code, collaboratively working on projects, or you need incremental capacity. Be sure to address security concerns in advance so that they don’t turn into expensive issues in the future.

Private Cloud

A private cloud provides services and infrastructure on a private network. The allure of a private cloud is the complete control over security and your system.

Private clouds are ideal when your security is of the utmost importance.  Especially if the information stored contains sensitive data. They are also the best cloud choice if your company is in an industry that must adhere to stringent compliance or security measures.

Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud is a combination of both public and private options.

Separating your data throughout a hybrid cloud allows you to operate in the environment which best suits each need. The drawback, of course, is the challenge of managing different platforms and tracking multiple security infrastructures.

A hybrid cloud is the best option for you if your business is using a SaaS application but wants to have the comfort of upgraded security.

3. When migrating to cloud computing communication is key

Of course, you should not forget your employees when coming up with a cloud migration project plan. There are psychological barriers that employees must work through.

Some employees, especially older ones who do not entirely trust this mysterious “cloud” might be tough to convince. Be prepared to spend some time teaching them about how the new infrastructure will work and assure them they will not notice much of a difference.

Not everyone trusts the cloud, particularly those who are used to physical storage drives and everything that they entail. They – not the actual cloud service that you use – might just be one of your most substantial migration challenges.

Other factors that go into a successful cloud migration plan are testing, runtime environments, and integration points. Some issues can occur if the cloud-based information does not adequately populate your company’s operating software. Such scenarios can have a severe impact on your business and are a crucial reason to test everything.

A good migration plan considers all of these things. From cost management and employee productivity to operating system stability and database security. Yes, your stored data has some security needs, especially when its administration is partly trusted to an outside company

When coming up with and implementing your cloud migration system, remember to take all of these things into account. Otherwise, you may come across some additional hurdles that will make things tougher or even slow down the entire process.

laptop on a desk with cloud migration project plan example

4. Establish security policies when moving to the cloud

Before you begin the cloud migration process, you need to be aware of the related security and regulatory requirements.

There are numerous regulations that you must follow when moving to the cloud. These are particularly important if your business is in healthcare or payment processing. In this case, one of the challenges is working with your provider on ensuring your architecture complies with government regulations.

Another security issue includes identity and access management to cloud data. Only a designated group in your company needs to have access that information to minimize the risks of a breach.

Whether your company needs to follow HIPAA Compliance laws, protect financial information, or even keep your proprietary systems private, security is one of the main points your cloud migration checklist needs to address.

Not only does the data in the cloud need to be stored securely, but the application migration strategy should keep it safe as well. No one – hackers included – who are not supposed to have it should be able to access that information during the migration process. Plus, once the business data is in the cloud, it needs to be kept safe when it is not in use.

It needs to be encrypted according to the highest standards to be able to resist breaches. Whether it resides in a private or public cloud environment, encrypting your data and applications is essential to keeping your business data safe.

Many third-party cloud server companies have their security measures in place and can make additional changes to meet your needs. The continued investments in security by both providers and business users have a positive impact on how the cloud is perceived.

According to recent reports, security concerns fell from 29% to 25% last year. While this is a positive trend in both business and cloud industries, security is still a sensitive issue that needs to be in focus.

5. Plan for efficient resource management

Most businesses find it hard to realize that the cloud often requires them to introduce new IT management roles.

With a set configuration and cloud monitoring tools,  tasks switch to a cloud provider.  A number of roles stay in-house. That often involves hiring an entirely new set of talents.

Employees who previously managed physical servers may not be the best ones to deal with the cloud.

There might be migration challenges that are over their heads. In fact, you will probably find that the third-party company that you contracted to handle your cloud migration needs is the one who should be handling that segment of your IT needs.

This situation is something else that your employees may have to get used to – calling when something happens, and they cannot get the information that they need.

While you should not get rid of your IT department altogether, you will have to change some of their functions over to adjust to the new architecture.

However, there is another type of cloud migration resource management that you might have overlooked – physical resource management.

When you have a company server, you have to have enough electricity to power it securely. You need a cold room to keep the computers in, and even some precautionary measures in place to ensure that sudden power surges will not harm the system. These measures cost quite a bit of money in upkeep.

When you use a third-party data center, you no longer have to worry about these things. The provider manages the servers and is in place to help with your cloud migration. Moreover, it can assist you with any further business needs you may have. It can provide you with additional hardware, remote technical assistance, or even set up a disaster recovery site for you.

These possibilities often make the cloud pay for itself.

According to a survey of 1,037 IT professionals, companies spend around 31% of their dedicated cloud spending budgets on cloud services. This figure continues to increase as businesses continue discovering the potential of the cloud

cost savings from moving to cloud

6. Calculate your ROI

Cloud migration is not inexpensive. You need to pay for the cloud server space and the engineering involved in moving and storing your data.

However, although this appears to be one of the many migration challenges, it is not. As cloud storage has become popular, its costs are falling. The Return on Investment or ROI, for cloud storage also makes the price worthwhile.

According to a survey conducted in September 2017, 82% of the people responding realized that the prices of their cloud migration met or exceeded their ROI expectations. Another study showed that the costs are still slightly higher than planned.

In this study, 58% of the people responding spent more on cloud migration than planned. The ROI is not affected as they still may have saved money in the long run, even if the original migration challenges sent them over budget.

One of the reasons why people receive a positive ROI is because they will no longer have to store their current server farm. Keeping a physical server system running uses up quite a few physical utilities, due to the need to keep it powered and cool.

You will also need employees to keep the system architecture up to date and troubleshoot any problems. With a cloud server, these expenses go away. There are other advantages to using a third party server company, including the fact that these businesses help you with cloud migration and all of the other details.

The survey included some additional data, including the fact that most people who responded – 68% of them – accepted the help of their contracted cloud storage company to handle the migration. An overwhelming majority also used the service to help them come up with and implement a cloud migration plan.

Companies are not afraid to turn to the experts when it comes to this type of IT service. Not everyone knows everything, so it is important to know when to reach out with questions or when implementing a new service.

Final Thoughts on Cloud Migration Strategies and Best Practices

If you’re still considering the next steps for your cloud migration strategy, the tactics outlined above should help you move forward.

A migration checklist is the foundation for your success and should be your first step. Adding all the considerations discussed above to it can only make it better.

Cloud migration is not a simple task. However,  understanding and preparing for cloud migration challenges, you can migrate successfully.

After all, it does require you to transform the IT backbone of your business operations. However, it is essential to understand that all your concerns have a solution.

Your job is to evaluate what is best for your company and move forward with a trusted provider.