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How to Maximize the Benefits of Cloud Migration

Jamie Miller, Former CIO of General Electric: "If we didn't go to the cloud, we would have been spending tens of millions of dollars more just maintaining our own systems."

The cloud has become a popular place and has taken IT by storm. According to statistics, 61% of businesses have successfully migrated to the cloud, and the global cloud computing market is expected to witness 17.5% annual growth, reaching $461 billion by 2025. Additionally, 7 out of 10 businesses use a cloud migration strategic plan to increase their expenditures.

Simply put, cloud computing is based on the internet. Instead of running applications or programs by downloading the software on a physical computer or server, cloud migration allows access to the same applications through the internet. Let’s take some real-life examples – the messaging apps that you use, for instance - WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, are some of the examples of the cloud.

Why Migrate to the Cloud?

Why are companies adopting a cloud migration strategy? Companies that adopt cloud migration can have a positive impact on their business. Here are some points stating the benefits of cloud migration:

Improved Reliability and Availability

Having data stored in the cloud reduces the scope of data loss and downtime. Under service level agreements (SLA), most cloud providers guarantee 99% uptime. Also, maintaining reliability and availability becomes easier when a cloud provider manages an infrastructure with a high-speed connection.

  • In the early days, Dropbox users were increasing at a rapid pace. Users depended on Dropbox not just for personal file storage but also for critical business files, shared folders, and collaborative projects. The need for near-perfect uptime and reliability was paramount.

    Uptime Commitment: As of my last training cut-off in January 2022, Dropbox maintained an impressive uptime record. This was made possible because they utilized a cloud infrastructure that inherently has redundancy and failover capabilities. In fact, Dropbox's SLA promises 99.9% uptime for its Business users. 
  • Infrastructure Management: Dropbox doesn't need to individually handle every user's data on isolated servers. Instead, by leveraging vast data centers of cloud providers, they ensure that user data is not only available when needed but also protected from potential loss. For instance, if one server or even an entire data center were to face an issue, the distributed nature of the cloud infrastructure means that another server or data center can quickly pick up the slack. 

  • High-speed Connectivity: Users from all over the world access Dropbox. To ensure consistent and fast access, Dropbox leverages the high-speed connections of its cloud providers, ensuring that whether a user is in New York or Tokyo, they get swift access to their data. 

  • For businesses and individuals who rely on Dropbox, this level of reliability and availability is not just a luxury – it's a necessity. The cloud infrastructure, with its multiple layers of redundancy and high-speed connections, has enabled Dropbox to deliver on its promise of seamless file storage and sharing. 
Lower Costs

Cloud migration is a compelling technology that can cut down the capital expenses of a company to almost half. Furthermore, cloud computing services include maintenance and upgrades that can save money and time.

One of the US's largest banks began its transition to the cloud around 2015. They selected AWS as their main cloud provider. By 2020, they had migrated many of their critical workloads. This allowed them to:

  • Reduce their data centers from eight in 2014 to almost zero by 2020.
  • Achieve significant savings on infrastructure costs.
  • Benefit from AWS's security model, ensuring that their customer data is safe and compliant.
Resource Scalability

With Cloud computing platforms, computing storage and networking resources are scalable and procurable on-demand without requiring physical infrastructure and connectivity contracts as in on-premises models.

Snapchat, a multimedia messaging app, has seen explosive growth since its launch in 2011. Its unique feature of self-deleting messages appealed to millions worldwide.

In its early days, Snapchat faced immense challenges in infrastructure scalability. Every snap, message, or video sent on the platform needed storage, and with millions of such interactions happening daily, the volume of data was colossal.

Snapchat's developers knew that to sustain this level of growth, relying on traditional on-premises models was impractical. Not only would it be exorbitantly costly to constantly upgrade physical infrastructure, but the time and complexity involved would also cause significant delays and potential service disruptions.

Enter Google Cloud. Snapchat began its journey with Google Cloud from the start, leveraging its powerful computing, storage, and networking capabilities. This partnership allowed Snapchat to:

  • Scale Rapidly: Without worrying about physical infrastructure limits, Snapchat could seamlessly accommodate its rapidly growing user base.
  • Operate Economically: Instead of incurring heavy upfront costs on infrastructure, they operated on a pay-as-you-go model, using resources as needed.
  • Focus on Innovation: With infrastructure worries off their plate, Snapchat could concentrate on developing new features and improving user experience.
Increased flexibility/scalability

By deploying applications in the cloud, IT can deliver applications when and where end-users need them. Besides, you get easy access to security updates and general maintenance, resulting in more flexible and sustainable operations.

Top Drivers for Cloud Migration

According to Deloitte Insights, cloud migration's top drivers are Data Modernization, Costs and Performance of IT Operations, and Security and Data Protection. 37% of respondents ranked No. 1, and 21 % ranked No.2 under the Security and Data Protection category. Also, for Data Modernization, 22% ranked No. 1, and 22% ranked No. 2. Lastly, 15% ranked No. 1, and 17% ranked No. 2 under the cost and performance of IT operations category.

Maximize the Benefits of Cloud Migration

Ensure compatibility with your existing systems

When subscribing to cloud-based applications, it’s essential to ensure they are compatible with your existing legacy systems. For example, suppose your cloud-based customer relationship management system (CRM) is incompatible with your on-premises enterprise content management system (ECM). In that case, you may have difficulty managing your customer information. When that happens, you scramble to find workarounds that can be both expensive and time-consuming.

Some companies opt for middleware tools that connect the legacy on-premises application with the cloud-based application. It again leads to unnecessary complications that can be avoided if you ask the right questions before cloud migration:

  • What do we gain by migrating to the cloud?
  • What technology and features are we currently using?
  • Are our current systems and applications compatible with those provided by cloud computing?

Most companies look for cloud providers that offer both IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) capabilities.

Keep Future Goals in Mind

Before embarking on a cloud migration strategy or signing in with a cloud-based vendor, consider your future goals. As your organization grows, your needs will also evolve. So, consider asking yourself:

  • Can your cloud provider keep up with those demands?
  • Can they continue offering stable and ongoing services as you grow?
  • Is there a vendor lock-in?
  • If you have a falling out with the vendor, can you move your assets to another cloud platform or even access them?

Considering these essential questions to protect your company’s future interests would be best. Your cloud provider may seem like the ideal choice at that moment in terms of offerings and cost, but you need to concentrate on the long-term perspective.

Some companies consider going with multiple cloud providers at one time. This cloud migration strategy is good and can help you maintain control and protect your enterprise if one vendor doesn’t meet demands.

Make Security Your Top Priority

Cloud migration is far more secure than on-premises applications because cloud providers are typically better at handling security than individual businesses. They tend to stay up-to-date on the latest cybersecurity threats and know how to mitigate them. In addition, data stored on the cloud is encrypted, making it safer than other hosting solutions.

In addition to security, you need to consider compliance regarding where you can and can’t store certain types of data. While migrating collaboration apps to the cloud, you can follow these tips to minimize risk:

  • Store all sensitive data on-premises using a private or hybrid cloud.
  • Keep your data encrypted with your security keys to prevent a third party from accessing the data.
  • Find a cloud service that allows you to choose specific data residency to control the geographic area of the data storage.

Lost laptops are a billion-dollar business problem. In addition to the lost equipment, there is a more significant loss of the potentially sensitive data inside it. At that point, cloud computing gives you greater security, as data is stored in the cloud. You can access it no matter what happens to the hardware. You can also remotely wipe data from lost laptops with cloud computing.

Minimize Costs

Cloud migration can be expensive, and research shows that most companies underestimate the costs. To ensure cost doesn’t overburden your pocket, starting with a financial plan for cloud migration and a timeline for completion is essential.

  • Begin with an audit of your existing infrastructure and its current running cost.
  • Once this is complete, take advantage of pricing calculators offered by the top cloud providers to help estimate your costs.
  • Even with these estimates, some considerations may get overlooked. For instance, if you’re using a PaaS system, you may want to consider the cost of possibly rewriting code for your collaboration applications when you move to the cloud.
  • In addition to the actual cloud migration costs, you must account for the fact that the process will temporarily affect your business workflow, which means you must calculate or estimate the cost in terms of lost revenue.

While most companies hire outside experts to implement a cloud migration strategy, many don’t consider the importance of hiring financial planning experts who understand cloud migration's technologies, processes, and complexities. These experts can save you money in the long run and help you avoid “surprises” along the way.

Create a Plan

Most companies move their applications to the cloud one at a time. But how do you determine which collaboration applications to migrate and when? Before embarking on a cloud migration strategy, create a detailed plan that outlines which apps will be moved and in what order, along with a timeline. When deciding which apps to move, consider the following:

  • Start with on-premise applications that are suffering from performance or security issues.
  • Test the cloud migration process first by moving non-essential or less-important applications so that you get the hang of it and can modify the migration process for more critical applications.

When migrating to the cloud, it is best to prioritize applications that represent the greatest reward and the least risk. It is always advisable to migrate noncritical applications first.

Food for Thought

Mike Clayville, Vice President at AWS: "Enterprises are migrating to the cloud to reinvent their applications, data, and infrastructure."
Cloud migration involves a lot of factors – as it’s said, the devil is in the details! Before implementing a cloud migration strategy, consider which apps to migrate and which sequence. Find out the direct and indirect migration costs by getting help from your financial planner and cloud provider. Be aware of security and compliance issues associated with cloud migration and ensure that the cloud applications are compatible with your on-premises applications. Finally, make sure the cloud migration provider can help you meet your future business goals. Considering all these factors before cloud migration, you achieve a smooth transition and maximize the benefits.

If the process still sounds overwhelming, why not talk to an expert? Softura provides turnkey services that enable companies to transform digitally, including IT consulting, custom app development, integrations, and cloud migrations.

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