One of the most crucial decisions any business can make today is moving its operations to the cloud. Cloud computing is no longer a fad as most businesses considered it initially. As the cost of business operations continues rising, the need for more efficient processes has seen higher adoption of the cloud even among smaller enterprises. A report published on Forbes shows that hybrid cloud adoption grew 3 times more in 2016 from 19% to 57%. The same report shows that in 15 months through 2017 and beyond, 80% of all IT budgets will be committed to cloud solutions. Another report by IDC says cloud computing services are set to outgrow Software as a Service (SaaS) by 2019. Cloud growth is projected at 30.6% through to 2019, again highlighting the popularity of this technology. Today, 37% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have integrated some form of cloud computing in their operations and these numbers are set to keep growing.
Is Cloud Migration the Best Move?
While these numbers clearly highlight the popularity of cloud technology in the modern business environment, it is crucial to consider how such a move will impact your business. Some of the reasons to opt for cloud computing include:
- Lower costs of operations – You will be able to avoid huge capital expenditure on hardware and upgrades. You can fully eliminate your own data center or reduce the physical infrastructure. You need fewer employees to man your IT infrastructure, again reducing the cost of doing business.
- Fresh software to gain a competitive edge – You will get the latest versions of the applications with ongoing upgrades bringing onboard new features and functionality. This leads to higher efficiency and productivity of your organizational processes.
- Scalability – This has to be one of the best things about cloud computing. Every business is built with an objective to grow over time and as such, you expect the platform hosting your IT infrastructure to grow with you. Cloud storage is scalable and you only pay for resources used.
- Enhanced security and compliance – One of the greatest risks any business faces today is data breach or data loss. Many businesses have been brought down due to issues arising in their physical databases. To avoid this, migrating to a safer cloud platform allows you to mitigate these risks.
- Flexibility – The cloud environment is flexible and your business will benefit from the best technologies in the industry.
- Eco-friendly – Cloud computing is eco-friendly and helps your organization cut its carbon footprint. Cloud hosting, for instance, reduces energy use as you don’t need space for your data servers and staff.
- Future-proofing – New technologies are emerging every day and at the same time, importance of data now rules all industries. By embracing the cloud, you are in a better position to adjust to emerging trends including wearable technology, mobile internet devices, voice search and more.
- Reliability – One of the biggest turnoffs for a customer today is unavailability of a website when they need it. This can lose you a customer forever and for this reason, migrating to the cloud is an ideal move. Most cloud services are able to maintain 99.99% up-time, which guarantees your systems will always be up and running. This builds brand trust and promotes brand loyalty.
What to Consider before Cloud Migration
There are many other reasons to migrate to the cloud but before making the move, there are some crucial considerations you need to make including:
- Assess your needs – Before making this move, assess your business objectives, goals and needs. It is important to know what you want to achieve and take time to evaluate cloud services to determine if they will help you achieve these goals.
- Consider cloud providers – Which cloud provider should you choose? Is it Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or another? To make this choice, consider your business needs, cost-performance optimization and security.
- Select applications to move – It might not be possible to migrate everything to the cloud. In fact, some applications are better handled onsite. Some specialty software, for instance, might require additional licensing while some data is supposed to remain within the country.
- Existing access mechanisms – Will there be a change in access that current users are enjoying currently? Will there be a notable change in user experience? Such considerations will help you choose whether to go for a big-bang approach or a group/segment migration in phases. It is important to involve your database expert in all the planning and migration stages for the best outcomes.
- Security – It is true you are moving to the cloud to enhance security functions of your processes, but what will happen during the migration process? You might be required to cede some responsibilities to the cloud service provider in the process and it is up to you to evaluate how secure the data will be in the process.
- Choice of deployment model to be used – Your cloud service provider will either provide Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) as the deployment models. Each comes with its unique management features, control and flexibility.
- Consider expected organizational changes –There are organizational changes expected during migration to the cloud and you have to fully understand them. For instance, you need a review of security policies, recruitment of new skills, retraining your IT team and more importantly, active management of the cloud deployment.
- Integration – Don’t wait to discover application dependencies until it is too late. This leads to outages and limited functionality of systems, which can ruin the entire migration process. Make sure you understand any relationships between applications and plan for integration early.
It is important to appreciate that cloud migration is not a one-off process and as such, it requires preparations. It needs collaboration between all stakeholders to avoid hitches. More importantly, you need to allocate required resources and work with a qualified expert to get the job done. To get the best outcome for your cloud migration project, define the larger picture early, rely on a strong methodology and choose an experienced partner. Many experts recommend hybrid cloud transition strategy, but remember to always asses your needs first.