Cloud Migration is a Business Planning Strategy
Questions about cloud migration from our clients are a close second behind the questions we get about cybercrime.
We tend to be aggressive and specific when it comes to our advice about security. For the cloud, we need to dive deep into our client’s business strategy to advise each client with unique and contextual recommendations.
In this article, we’ll walk through a few of the questions that often arise, so you can ask yourself the same.
“Migration” is the right word. Moving to the cloud is not like “Beam me up, Scotty” in Star Trek. Done right – moving to the cloud is a journey that is aligned with a strategic investment plan.
Where is my data most secure?
It’s generally harder to hack into a complex array of cloud servers than it is to hack into the server maintained on-premise, but today’s bad actors access servers indirectly. When an employee falls victim to a phishing tactic, the bad actor starts learning how to mimic an employee’s “digital behavior” from the employee’s endpoint machine. The criminal strategy lets the bad actor sneak into your payroll data (for example) regardless of where the payroll data lives.
The “pros and cons” security analysis is an important part of the cloud migration discussion but, if endpoints are not secure and employees are not well trained, many vulnerabilities remain the same.
Will the cloud help me adapt to hybrid work environments?
Yes. Every business is considering how to best serve its customers in circumstances where the physical location of the business and its team is less relevant than ever before.
An analysis of bandwidth demands and availability in the “home office” is an important step when considering cloud migration as a way to support remote work capabilities. An extreme example would be a doctor who needs to review sonograms or MRIs-There are ways to do this using the cloud that are HIPAA compliant (we do this all the time) but if the Doctor’s bandwidth at home is too limited, the company will need to upgrade the home service. A more common challenge is streaming video meetings. If an employee needs to participate in Teams or other virtual meetings, too little bandwidth in the home leads to a lot of frustration for the entire team.
The hybrid work environment has no one-size-fits-all solution. Cloud migration planning and hybrid work planning should be treated as a singular business initiative that can propel a company forward, but only if applied in the context of that business’s specific needs.
Will specialized software and 3rd party vendors migrate along with me?
Maybe, and maybe not. This is a critically important consideration. Many common productivity tools like email, spreadsheets, accounting, and so on are cloud-ready. However, niche software that is unique to one industry or business practice might not be adaptable to the cloud.
Building a cloud migration plan has to carefully account for every type of software and every business partner’s situation. It’s about optimizing your IT environment to take advantage of the cloud where it makes sense in your specific use, but also realizing that you may want some apps and services still hosted on-premise. A great example of this is with OT networks (Operational Technology) that are generally entirely on-prem and not connected to the internet.
The IOT (Internet of Things) has created an environment where industrial machines contain software that shares data with other machines and humans. Manufacturing equipment, cash registers, metal detectors, printing equipment, and MRI machines all have microchips embedded in them that share data.
Careful analysis often reveals that some parts of a business depend on aging code that is not ready for operating systems that work in the cloud.
Will migrating to the cloud save me money?
Maybe, but saving money is only one consideration in making the plunge.
When the server you own is up to date and running smoothly, it’s a bargain. When a server becomes obsolete, gets hacked, or shuts down, the stress and the expenses are significant. On the other hand, storing data and running software in the cloud comes with a high monthly subscription fee while unexpected expenses are minimized.
One expense for some companies is extra bandwidth redundancy. When a business becomes dependent on access to the cloud for critical activities, it may need to invest in a backup solution for a broadband connection that kicks on quickly if the primary connection goes down.
So, while the cash flow is very different over the course of five years, the total investment may be essentially the same.
What should I do next?
We recommend a rolling five-year plan for IT management (a standard process for all our clients). One major benefit that this brings is the transparency that helps with financial planning. However, the biggest value is that five-year plans shift the conversation from a more reactive approach, towards a much deeper strategic and proactive approach that prevents unexpected expenses, data outages, equipment malfunctions, and other disruptions to the business-at-large.