Cloud projects are much more commonplace than they were a decade, or even a few years, ago. In their 2018 State of IT report, Spiceworks reports that 21% of IT budgets will be parked in cloud solutions — a number that’s increasing each year.
Hosted solutions are appealing to both management and IT professionals alike, and there are many reasons for this — redundancy, increased uptime, and reduced staff requirements. With so many obvious benefits, moving to the cloud seems like a no-brainer.
But it’s important to remember that there are as many pitfalls as benefits while migrating to the cloud. We will take a look common problems that organizations face — and how to avoid them.
When everyone somehow forgets about business requirements
Almost everyone gets excited when migrating to the cloud comes up in meetings, probably because it sounds so simple and appealing. If you’re going to make the right choices for your cloud implementation, everyone needs to be on the same page.
First, your company’s decision-makers need to take a step back and articulate what it is that they hope to achieve with such a move. Understanding the technical requirements of a migration is typically a straightforward affair for an IT manager, but the business element can often be fuzzy, which is a potential point of failure. Similarly, you should train the decision makers on the possibilities of the cloud. We’re not saying your C-suite should complete Cloud Essentials training, but it certainly couldn’t hurt.
Conversely, you might want to learn how to speak business. If your IT strategy isn’t aligned with the company’s business requirements, then you run the risk of creating a catastrophic operating environment for your company, killing future productivity and revenue generation.
It is important to make sure that management is onboard with the entire process from start to finish, and that they provide you with feedback while asking you for feedback on your progress, as well. Only then can your efforts be synergistically aligned with one another, allowing for a successful collaboration between the business requirements and the IT objectives of the organization.
Don’t get caught up in the excitement (or fear) of moving to the cloud. You will need to make sure that the benefits of such a move outweigh any potential negative outcomes while preparing for worst-case scenarios. Remember, there must be cost benefits, as well as performance benefits, if your cloud migration is to be a worthwhile undertaking for your company, so you need to make sure that both of these positive outcomes are likely at the end of your project.
How will the migration change your system?
Cloud projects that are rushed without proper consultation from all stakeholders will almost always result in failure. Your company’s proprietary applications need to be tested and reworked until you have tested every conceivable operating condition.
How do your business-critical applications operate on sub LAN speeds with increased latency? Have your developers fully tested how their application works on a hosted cloud-based server? How is your information security handled? Is your data secure? Where is it being stored and backed up to?
Information management and security standards need to be established and adhered to, especially where sensitive and confidential data is concerned. Another critical area that has a massive impact on your core application operations is your Disaster Recovery plan.
If you cannot reasonably assure your management team that your new online environment meets all of the specified requirements of your industry, then you are going to have a hard time with regulators and auditors. For this reason, you must make sure that your cloud services meet all of your security needs, compliance standards, regulations and SLA (Service Level Agreement) requirements.
Don’t forget about local resources
While migrating your services to the cloud might look like a good idea from the server room, what about your remote locations? If you have multiple sites, do all of your offices and remote sites have the right connectivity solutions to allow them to connect to your new hosted platform effectively? Does all of your existing client hardware still work with the new cloud-based application? How does this affect performance and compatibility with your infrastructure? You’ll need to select the right cloud solution for your particular situation.
Failure to check, double check, test, and then triple check your local resource capacity can cause serious problems after you have moved over to the new platform, so you need to make sure that you have all of your ducks in a row before flipping the switch.
That means testing in lab environments, and perhaps getting certified in the technology ahead of the migration.
This will mean that a lot of groundwork needs to be laid out and covered beforehand. Site audits and service contracts will need to be reviewed across all of your sites, and appropriate corrective steps will need to be followed wherever any deficiencies are identified. This means that you will need to allocate resources to your planning stage before you even begin your migration to the cloud.
Start with a plan and stick to it
When setting out your initial plan in the beginning stages of your project, it is important to remember that cost is almost always going to be the primary driver of your company’s desire to decentralize and head to the cloud. Cloud technologies are ever-evolving, so look to the future — as well as the present.
If you have not planned your organization’s current and future requirements against a budget, then you run the risk of over delivering on unnecessary services, or under delivering on essential requirements, leaving your project either over budget or underdeveloped.
Having a proper project management strategy in place will guarantee you a much higher likelihood of success as you move toward your goal. Setting milestones, big and small, will be the only way for you and your management team to track your progress as you accomplish important goals along the way. When milestones are missed, it is of critical importance that all involved parties are able to communicate effectively and strategize on how to overcome a missed deadline or target.
When moving to a cloud solution, you’re essentially outsourcing reliability and scalability to a provider. However, you’ll still need to manage those services, so it’s important to get trained on your particular cloud solution. Even if you don’t plan to sit for a certification exam, training will help you and your team navigate migration with aplomb.
Here’s a list of the most popular cloud training at CBT Nuggets:
These are ideal starting points for both technical and non-technical staff that wish to get a handle on how to guide their organization towards a successful cloud migration and should definitely be on your list of certifications to get ASAP.