The cloud, once an aspirational destination, has undergone a significant shift, increasingly becoming “ingrained in the fabric of business and IT,” according to Gartner. Although operating out of the cloud may not be the best fit for every business, cloud migration is certainly worth considering. Yet like any large-scale technology implementation, cloud migration can be complex—and that means you need a plan. If you’re thinking about moving your business infrastructure to the cloud, start with this mission-critical checklist.
1. Understand Your Business Processes
You’re likely already considering the pros and cons of a cloud migration, but just because the option exists doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for your company. An important first step is to examine your business processes and applications and identify what you actually want to move to the cloud. Every business will fall into one of three camps: purely on-premise, cloud and on-premise and cloud-to-cloud. It’s less likely—rare, in fact—that you’ll do a complete cloud migration, especially if you have an existing ERP system. Yet depending on the specifics of your enterprise software, you may face a mandatory reimplementation, a process that’s equally complex and littered with potentially expensive obstacles that could prove detrimental to your bottom line and day-to-day workflow.
It’s important to focus on what you want to migrate to the cloud—but you also need to determine why. What sort of benefits are you hoping to achieve? Common motivating factors include lower initial cost; increased business agility and scalability; and increased business efficiency as enabled by faster delivery of services.
This sort of technical assessment is a natural starting point so that you can not only make a migration plan, but also know what sort of cloud solutions and configurations you need. As you develop a comprehensive look at the business processes you want to shift to the cloud, you can also create a hierarchy: which processes move first? Which move in a second phase? And which processes should remain in-house? If you have existing applications tied to any of these processes, this sort of pre-planning will also ensure that your applications run optimally in the cloud even as they’re sharing computing resources with other apps hosted on a cloud provider’s servers.
2. Know Your Regulatory Environment
The cloud is often praised for making access and innovation faster and easier, yet one particular area makes the cloud much more challenging than an on-premise environment: regulatory concerns.
If your company does business in Europe, for example, you need to be aware of the data laws enacted to help mitigate privacy concerns. There are no geographic borders on the Internet, but that doesn’t mean that your company can afford to ignore applicable geographical guidelines and regulation, especially if you work in a compliance-heavy industry.
Speaking of geography, it also plays an important role in your cloud migration strategy. Once you’ve identified the business processes and applications that will move to the cloud, consider where the data that powers those applications will be hosted. Depending on your industry-specific regulations and requirements—or security concerns—data may not be allowed to leave the country, limiting where your cloud implementation can be hosted.
Depending on your industry, you may also be dealing with governmental oversight and related regulations like HIPAA healthcare laws. The tricky thing is that technology tends to outpace laws, meaning that the legal system is in a perpetual game of catch-up—and that means that you may need to adopt the role of a pioneer, at least for a short period of time.
3. Research a Solutions Provider
Regardless of the specifics of your particular cloud migration, there’s a good chance you’ll enlist the help of at least one solutions provider to help provide the tools and guidance to not only implement the migration, but also make sure that your operations run smoothly in the cloud. That decision will also coincide with the type of cloud environment you’ll use, whether it’s software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) or infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
Don’t underestimate the importance of doing your due diligence before you select a solutions provider. You’ll want to find out the specifics of the solution, but you’ll also want to answer these key questions:
- How is the cloud solution managed?
- What are their implementation procedures?
- What’s the implementation strategy?
- What is the release cycle?
- What’s the plan if something goes wrong, either during the implementation or once the cloud solution is up and running?
- How is your cloud data secured?
- How will your cloud data be migrated between your various systems?
This isn’t necessarily an exhaustive list of considerations, but these are among the key questions to address throughout the solutions search. Also consider factors like actual costs, which will likely be higher than what you see on a price list. Your company’s capacity demands will also provide critical selection criteria—and is one of the many reasons we’re strong proponents of the preliminary due diligence that we discussed earlier in the post.
Remember: information isn’t just power; it’s also your safeguard. It’s tempting to want to pick a solutions provider and dump everything in their laps. It makes perfect sense that they’ll help run the show as the migration progresses, but not knowing the specifics—both of the company and the solution—poses a risk of harming your business should a problem occur.
4. Make a Cloud Migration Plan
Even if you’re working with a cloud migration specialist, this process is a team effort and you’ll want to maintain a central role in creating the migration plan. When you know what applications will be migrated to the cloud, you can make the necessary accommodations. If, for example, you’re migrating an application that can’t have any downtime, the ideal solution is a phased migration so that you run less risk of user disruption.
Whether your plan includes phases or an all-at-once cloud migration, you’ll also want to work with your solutions provider to create a test plan (part of the due diligence we mentioned earlier). Just as you’d repeatedly test an application before deployment, you can set up a series of tests that include different user types and loads so that you can proactively work through any issues that might otherwise impede the migration and, by extension, your employee and customer experience.
5. Start Small, Then Grow
We mentioned this earlier in the post, but it’s worth repeating. It’s likely you won’t go for a full-on cloud migration to start, and it’s equally acceptable—even recommended—to focus on migrating a few applications or processes, then expanding the implementation as dictated by your company’s needs. We’ve seen this approach with our digital supply chain customers who use our tools in a variety of ways, including to configure and deploy apps that enable them to perform supply chain processes anywhere, anytime and on any device. They might focus on one particular set of processes—field service for example, or inventory management—and then build out to a more comprehensive implementation, rather than trying to optimize the complete supply chain at one time.
Your Easiest Path to the Cloud
After absorbing the aforementioned cloud migration issues, your first inclination might be to run far away from the cloud. While cloud migration can be complex, you don’t have to constrain your business and resources with what have traditionally been laborious enterprise-to-cloud migration processes. Instead, we’ve tapped into decades of experience with leading enterprise software systems to create DSI Cloud Connect, an industry-leading approach to enterprise system integration that enables you to connect your on-premise enterprise system to a secure instance of the DSI Cloud Platform in as little as 30 minutes. And like other DSI solutions, DSI Cloud Connect offers speed, security and scalability so you have confidence in knowing your data and processes are protected by technology that not only meets your immediate cloud needs, but also grows with your changing business requirements.
If you have lingering questions about migrating to the cloud or want to learn more about DSI’s cloud solutions, including DSI Cloud Connect, and how they can help solve your specific cloud migration challenges, feel free to contact us.