What to Consider When Handling Your Own Cloud Migration

March 12th, 2020

After years of on-premises hardware, migrating to the cloud brings many changes. First and foremost is the change from a traditional model relying on capital expenses. Expenses such as:

  • New hardware when old pieces of infrastructure reach end of life
  • New software as licenses need to be renewed
  • Refreshed end-user devices as software requirements increase

This lump sum expense model is turned on its head by cloud services offering infrastructure, hardware, and software as-a-service in a pay-as-you-go operating expense model. This often means a recurring monthly cost that is predictable and can be scaled on demand to meet any needs.

“The Cloud” Has Become More Than a Data Destination. It’s the Foundation of Tech Strategy.

Cloud solutions tend to provide several benefits:

  • Mobility: Cloud offerings can deliver a consistent, reliable, and mobile-friendly workspace. Being able to access information and systems securely from any location frees users from typical constraints and allows them to continue being productive wherever they are.
  • Security: Since data is centralized in a datacenter and is not residing on user endpoints, security is even easier. This allows for users to work from their own devices and connect securely to hosted applications and software using whatever device suits them best. Access to data should be encrypted from end-to-end and protected by multiple forms of authentication.
    Keeping data encrypted from end-to-end makes intercepting data in transit a difficult task, and keeping it sandboxed by using software such as VMware’s Workspace One prevents it from ever entering the end user’s device. If a device is ever stolen, it can be remotely wiped of applications, and there’s no concern of sensitive data being accessed.
    Using a second form of authentication usually revolves around a piece of biometric data, such as a retinal scan or fingerprint, or a physical token, such as an access card or via an authenticator application like Duo Authentication or Google Authenticator. Requiring access to a password and a second identifier makes it even more unlikely to have data compromised, even if a device, password, or other single form of authentication on an account is.
  • Scalability: Provides the capability to add or remove services and applications as needed in real-time. Usually, with a few simple clicks, workloads can be expanded in the form of VMs, containers, storage, or additional resources for consumption.
    Traditional models would require capital funding, usually on a schedule dictated by quarterly or yearly financials and often before (or even well after) it’s necessary. The ability to scale and meet demands in real time with known fixed costs makes all the difference in a world with progressively leaner IT budgets.

Security, mobility, and scalability in an operational cost model makes accessing the cloud more appealing than ever. However, decision-makers often aren’t sure where to start and often become overwhelmed as they delve into the world of cloud workloads.
If you’re not sure where to begin, follow these cloud migration strategy suggestions.

RELATED: End-User Identity in a Mobile Cloud World

Embrace Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Solutions

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for cloud implementation. Thinking about how your organization uses its applications and accesses its data can often lead you in different directions.
Typically, most businesses are already using at least one cloud-based application — whether it’s Microsoft 365, an ERP, or a CRM like Salesforce or HubSpot. When it comes to existing on-site infrastructure, take each application on a case-by-case basis to determine what makes sense to move to the cloud.
Here are some things to think about:

  • Can this application benefit from additional security offered by cloud providers? Cloud providers may be able to offer you additional tools and monitoring that would be costly to implement on-site. Certain cloud providers might be able to assist with data that needs to be HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, or CCPA compliant.
  • Is this a workload that grows faster than hardware can be acquired? Being able to scale out an application as needed without needing the overhead capital investment and having to wait for hardware to arrive and be installed can save time and money.
  • Is this a variable size workload that is only used part of the year? Cloud offerings often allow you to spin-up resources and turn them down when they are no longer needed. This flexibility saves the headache of having unused hardware on-site.
  • Would this workload benefit from having a second instance off-site? Having a level of redundancy in an off-site location can prevent downtime in certain situations where having two copies on-site would not be enough.
  • Is there a regulatory or compliance need to have data in multiple geographic locations? Sometimes businesses do not own two separate locations, or it is not feasible to have server space in a secondary location owned by an organization. Spinning up a copy of data in a secondary geographic location can meet compliance requirements without needing to invest in additional real estate.

There are two items that could make cloud adoption especially difficult:

  1. Is there a custom application running on legacy hardware? Some applications are difficult to virtualize due to the nature of their development and may not be a candidate for cloud adoption
  2. Are there regulations preventing data from being off-site? Data may be required to be in a secure location on-site, and storing it outside of the business’s control can go against control policies.

RELATED: Why Backup Office 365? Microsoft Already Does That… Right?

Cloud Is for More than Just Workloads

Even if you aren’t ready for full cloud adoption, or even a hybrid cloud approach, leveraging the cloud for backup or disaster recovery is an essential part of cloud utilization for keeping workloads intact in the event of a natural disaster, rogue employees or bad actors, or just simple hardware failure.

The 3-2-1 rule for backups applies now more than ever.

  • 3 copies of your data
  • 2 different storage media
  • 1 location offsite

Using cloud for your backups to meet the offsite and multiple media criteria is simple. You can use tools like Veeam’s Cloud Connect to push new or existing backups or replicas to your chosen cloud partner.
In addition to full servers, files, and databases, data for cloud applications such as Microsoft 365 can now be backed up to the cloud — often to low-cost object storage for archival purposes. For example, Microsoft retains SharePoint data for only 93 days by default. Veeam, or other backup software, can use Office 365 backup to push the data to cloud partners and protect data for as long as necessary.

Virtual Systems: Your Cloud-First IT Partner

If you’re trying to handle your business’s cloud migration on your own, you may discover that it’s not as simple as you expected. When questions and challenges come up, our team at Virtual Systems is here to help.
Unlike big-box firms, we provide customized solutions that we tailor to your business’ exact needs. And if you’re not sure what you need, we can help you find and build the right solutions.
To talk with an IT expert from our team today, fill out our online contact form or call us at 844-2-VIRTUAL.

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