Many businesses are already using the cloud in some way, with 61 per cent moving their workloads into the cloud in 2020. However, many are yet to carry out their full cloud migration.
For some, the migration was accelerated by the pandemic. The WFH order saw many businesses rushing to implement cloud solutions to allow their staff to work remotely. In fact, 51 per cent of decision makers whose business migrated during the pandemic said it saved their organisation from collapse.
If your organisation has yet to complete its move to the cloud, there are a number of steps you’ll need to take to ensure it’s smooth and cost-effective; we cover those steps below.
1. Understand why you’re moving to the cloud
There are so many reasons businesses choose to migrate to the cloud, including:
- Reduced cost of ownership;
- Facilitating remote working;
- Higher system availability;
- More stringent security protocols;
- Increased productivity and efficiency.
Having these goals at the forefront of your preparation means you’ll be able to migrate in a way that helps you achieve those goals. You may want to achieve all of them, but it’s likely that some are higher priorities than others. For example, you might want to prioritise data security because your on-premise system was recently breached, so that should be your main focus when planning and completing your migration.
2. Decide which applications you’re migrating
In an ideal world, a cloud migration would involve moving all of your business-critical apps to the cloud in one go. However, it’s not that straightforward in reality.
Most businesses will still have ageing legacy systems that, for many reasons, can’t be moved to the cloud. It’s well established that maintaining legacy systems is significantly more expensive than switching to new systems. For example, the government’s public accounts committee found that HMRC spent 80 per cent of its coronavirus budget on maintaining its aged IT systems, which accounted for a huge £53 million. However, it can be daunting to switch, especially if your legacy system is bespoke.
Your first step in your cloud migration journey is to identify which applications you can migrate to the cloud. We also recommend reviewing your expensive legacy systems to see if there are any existing cloud-based alternatives that could replace them.
3. Determine your migration strategy
Once you’ve assessed all your applications, you’ll need to determine how you’ll undertake the migration, even for those applications that you aren’t migrating right now. There are a number of ways you can complete your cloud migration, and most businesses will use a combination of strategies which are commonly known as the 6 Rs:
- Rehost: moving applications with no changes;
- Re-platform: moving applications, with small modifications based on their new cloud environment;
- Repurchase: replacing your legacy systems with newer, cloud-based alternatives and operating a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model;
- Re-architect: redeveloping an application, which can involve using new cloud features;
- Retire: eliminating a system from your IT portfolio;
- Retain: leaving an application as-is and revisiting it at a later date.
It’s unlikely that you’ll only use one of these methods, so once you’ve determined the applications you’re migrating to the cloud and the ones you aren’t, decide which of these methods you’ll use.
4. Choose your cloud services provider
A question that many people ask is: who is the best cloud provider? The answer isn’t as simple as giving you one provider; each will have its own benefits. You might want to use multiple providers so that their combined solutions meet your specific requirements.
If the systems you’re migrating use a lot of data, you’ll need a cloud service provider who can keep up with those demands. If you’re migrating applications that store a lot of personal or sensitive customer data, you’ll need one that has strong security certifications. If scalability is important, make sure the provider you opt for can provide this service easily.
The hybrid cloud, a combination of on-premise servers, public cloud platforms and private cloud platforms, is the solution most businesses will opt for. Public cloud options such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are trusted because of their rigid security protocols. Private clouds, meanwhile, allow you more customisation and you can choose whether to manage them yourself or outsource this to a third-party provider.
5. Tap into a cloud consultancy expert provider
Reducing costs is one of the main reasons many businesses move to the cloud, with a Microsoft survey identifying this as a top benefit of cloud migration. However, the cost of the migration project itself also needs to be taken into consideration.
Some businesses will undertake this exercise in-house if they have an IT team that’s big and experienced enough to take on the project or to keep costs low. But if your internal IT team is small or you already use managed IT services, we’d recommend using a third-party provider.
A business with expertise in cloud consultancy will manage the entire process for you and ensure that your migration goes as smoothly as possible. Their experience in deploying cloud solutions and migrations means you’ll experience a smoother journey to cloud computing.
While carrying out this project in-house might seem more cost-effective on the face of it, cloud experts will help you to reduce costs by considering every possibility and mitigating any potential risks.
Moving workloads to the cloud is an essential step for businesses that are looking to reduce IT operating costs, increase security and improve efficiency and productivity. It’s a project that requires a number of steps to ensure a smooth, efficient, and cost-effective migration. By taking these steps, you can ensure your cloud migration is as seamless as possible.
Andrew Rigg is the head of managed services solution architecture at Perfect Image.