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Cloud migration is the process of moving some – or all – of your company data from traditional data storage locations to modern storage locations by way of a cloud provider. This is a multi-step process, which requires thoughtful planning and execution of the cloud migration procedures. Before we delve into what your process should look like, we’ll give you a breakdown of what exactly “migrating to the cloud” can mean in a few of the most common scenarios.

Examples of Cloud Migration

  1. Email.
    Moving your email from your own server to a web-based environment like Office 365 or Google Apps. When migrating your email to the cloud, you may have to change email clients–for example, from Outlook to a browser.
  2. Servers.
    Keeping your physical servers, but moving them to a data center that’s better for security, power protection, bandwidth, etc. It could also mean moving the applications and data from your physical servers to virtual servers such as Amazon Web Services. Here, you’ll have to consider the impact of reduced connection speeds: accessing your server over the Internet is significantly slower that accessing it over your local area network. Even still, improved security and reliability often make the transition to the cloud worth it.
  3. Applications.
    Migrating from the traditional PC-based applications to web-based applications–like from Quickbooks to Quickbooks Online.
  4. Data.
    Moving your files–spreadsheets, Word documents, etc.–from your local on-site server to an Internet-based provider like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box.net. Be aware that when moving data files from a local server to Dropbox, sharing behaviors change. For example, you won’t be able to run Quickbooks or other database applications on Dropbox or any other cloud-based site.

Think, Plan, and Project for Cloud Migration

Moving data is not a one shot deal, and it’s not like updating your PC where you end up with a faster version of what you had before. Three tasks (plus allocating the right person or people to take on the job) must occur before beginning the process that leads to could migration of business data. They include:

  1. Establishment of size, scope and specific data for cloud migration
  2. Determine the target clouds that the data will occupy
  3. Establish the framework and tasks for completion of data migration

If the strategy you outline is more than existing staff can manage, a managed service provider may need to take over the project. During 2014, a noticeable upswing in cloud migration took place. Companies who were planning their strategy are now out of the planning stage and into execution mode.

Change of Focus

It all begins with a mindset change by a potential client and the realization that the amount of work that this project requires will need strategic planning. Whether a private cloud is preferable to a public cloud does not change the work at hand. If the company is large enough to have an onsite IT department, the technology staff needs to understand the monitoring processes and tools available to maintain the level of service they need.

While expectations of service, security and performance levels may remain the same, the methods of delivery will change as various skills, tools and processes transform access of data to the cloud. As cloud migration evolves from the introductory stage, a new understanding will emerge that focuses on infrastructure, platform, and security. When a company decides to move an extraordinary amount of data, it involves lots of work.

What You Want to Move

Companies that decide to migrate to the cloud could be moving anything from original proprietary documents to departmental or commercial applications. Some data might be simple over-the-counter retail purchases while company-specific applications could represent the balance of data heading for its new home in a cloud.

The available cloud migration tools can manage simple tasks, but jobs that are more complex sometimes slip through the cracks. This makes cloud migration a bit more costly. Often, technology capable of sophisticated migrations – like moving an entire server – tends to be more elusive.

Those Little Details

Despite the challenges that comes with cloud migration, more and more businesses are “getting on the Cloud-wagon” because it just makes good sense. Costs are generally less and security and reliability are generally greater– all because the economies of scale are so much larger.

If you’re considering making the move the cloud, contact us. We can help you better understand the sequence of events and the professional knowledge you will require to start making big moves.

In our new eBook, we outline some of the most common IT oversights made by small-to-medium sized businesses, whether migrating to the cloud or otherwise: