Moving infrastructure to the cloud is unlike any other tech project. Although Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) like Azure, AWS, and other public cloud options can make it easy to subscribe and use cloud platforms, getting real value – and avoiding some serious mistakes – is critical to turning a “cloud experiment” into a well-developed cloud strategy.
Here are 10 quick but important ideas that will help you plan a successful IaaS or PaaS implementation.
1. A Reason
Why are you moving to the cloud? Greater efficiency? Agility? To lessen the cost of on-prem infrastructure and maintenance? Whatever your goal for using IaaS, keep it in mind through each step of the process as you move to the cloud to keep your project on track. Many organizations point to the cloud without real purpose and set course there because they see their peers doing it. Don’t get caught in that spot. Make sure your reason is a compelling business reason.
2. A Strategy
Once you clearly define why you’re moving to the cloud, you need to map out how you will do it. Will all applications move to the cloud, and do they need to be reworked or can you “lift and shift”? How will moving a workload to the cloud impact other parts of your operation – and how can you minimize disruption? Also, consider whether public cloud, private cloud, multi-cloud, or a hybrid combination of clouds and on-premises is the best plan for your organization.
3. A Pilot
Once you have a strategy, it’s wise to conduct a pilot to make sure the migration and the new system will work as planned. It’s smart to fail small and create the opportunity to correct issues rather than jumping into a full-scale migration that could end badly. Cloud migrations are a little like home construction projects – plan for something to go wrong, just make sure it happens on a small-scale.
4. A Budget
Your plan and the results of your pilot will help forecast IaaS costs you’ll incur at scale. Different factors, such as incorrectly autoscaling, inaccurate forecasting that leads to buying on-demand capacity, and services that get turned on, but not off, can all lead to unexpectedly high charges. Develop an accurate picture of costs and how to manage IaaS use to control them. Leveraging cloud is usually not more expensive than leveraging an on-prem build as long as you’re factoring all associated costs and not attempting to run on-prem equipment past a 3-5 year refresh.
Before migration, make sure all data is backed up and that you can continue to meet your organization’s recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) so operations aren’t disrupted.
Throughout the process, it’s vital to keep all stakeholders informed of your plans, the migration schedule, and milestones they need to be aware of in the process. It’s also smart to have buy-in for using IaaS services. Build it by showing your IT team and users how it can benefit them individually through user-friendly features, greater agility, and time savings.
Immediately after migration, you need to perform testing to make sure that it was successful, users can access the data and systems they need, and integrations are working.
No one wants to be vulnerable to cyberattack and risk data loss — you must make security a priority. Make sure you fully understand which security measures your IaaS provider has in place and which are up to you. Also, consider security during the migration itself. Make sure your system and your data are never vulnerable, not for even a few minutes.
Regulations about cloud use and storage can’t be an afterthought when you’re leveraging IaaS. Make sure you use the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry (PCI), the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or other applicable laws or guidelines to guide decisions about the clouds and services you use.
10. Last, But Not Least, Leveraging IaaS Takes Expertise
You may be an experienced CIO, a software developer, or a seasoned IT resource. But that doesn’t mean you are an expert in cloud. Understanding the finer points of the first nine elements of cloud migration takes knowledge, skill and, probably, a few cloud migrations under your belt.
Working with a consultant with cloud expertise will make it easier to choose the right products, tools, security solutions for your use case – and help you control the costs of cloud computing. A cloud expert can also help you increase user adoption and get the most return on your investment.
The decision to leverage IaaS or PaaS instead of on-prem infrastructure can lead to many benefits for an organization, but like other tech projects, cloud migration has to be done right. Unlike other tech projects, however, migrating to the cloud has many broad, moving parts that must be managed to avoid data loss, operational disruptions, frustrated users, strange costing models, or even a system that doesn’t deliver all of the functionality you need. Proceed carefully and make sure you reach out for the help you need.