Organizations considering a migration to cloud services are in good company. It’s often said that it’s no longer a question of “if” it should be done, but rather, “how to do it” and “when to do it.”
A migration to cloud services could actually mean one of three things. To clarify:
IaaS means “infrastructure as a service.” It’s a type of virtual environment that only consists of the hardware/ infrastructure and raw resources. Organizations can do almost anything they want with the space, from storing data and apps for immediate retrieval to creating backups.
PaaS refers to “platform as a service.” This is a step above infrastructure. While it does include the resources as well, it also includes the bones necessary to build apps rapidly.
SaaS is short for “software as a service.” This is the most comprehensive virtual environment, as it includes software that’s ready to go out of the box. The software is hosted and maintained by a third party, and users only need to access that software to perform an action.
When companies talk about a migration to cloud services, they could be referencing any of these three things or could be thinking of a hybrid solution that includes more than one option.
Stability: Oftentimes, virtual environments hosted by third parties are more stable, as the data centers are always up and fully staffed. Downtime and loss of data are exceedingly rare with reputable vendors.
Scalability: It’s common for companies to only use 30% of their available space, but keeping that space open can be wasteful. There are also times organizations need to beef up to meet user demands. Virtual environments allow for this almost instantaneously.
Agility: When the IT department is no longer tasked with managing infrastructure, it can be more proactive and help the company achieve other goals.
Cost: Going virtual almost always results in significant cost savings because the organization is no longer paying for space and machines it doesn’t use.
Profit: With the IT team operating more efficiently and contributing to other company goals, organizations generally find that they earn more too.
As organizations prepare for a migration to cloud services, there are several tasks that must be carried out.
Assessment: During the assessment phase, each app is looked into to determine its “readiness” Sometimes older legacy software doesn’t want to be cooperative with a move or the data is locked away tight inside it. There are generally ways to overcome these challenges, but they should be discussed ahead of time, as each potential solution has drawbacks and benefits. Once the apps have been looked into, the type of environment that will suit them best needs to be determined.
Prioritization: All key decision makers and anyone involved in the migration to cloud services will have to come together to decide which apps and data need to be moved first. Things like their current health should be taken into account, as well as how each move and the downtime will affect the organization’s workflow will also need to be considered.
Timeline: Once the details are worked out, a full timeline of events is created. Depending on the size of the transfer, as well as the difficulty level, timelines can range from a few weeks to years.
Once all the preliminary steps are taken, the actual work of transitioning can begin.
Modernization: During the modernization phase, any apps that need to be updated or altered before they can move are taken care of. When this is done, it’s referred to as being “cloud-ready.”
Move: Apps and data are moved individually, to ensure continuity of workflow and to make troubleshooting easier if there are issues. Rigorous testing should also be done before an app is rolled out.
Monitor: All apps should be monitored throughout the process, but following the move, there’s one more thing to look for- a measurement of success. Many companies use ROI, savings, or improved profit as a measurement, but IT departments also look for things like downtime, failures, and response rates as key indicators.