Moving to the cloud could be one of the best things you do as a business or organization. Cloud computing and cloud migration offer some major advantages over classical on-premises local storage solutions. It provides on-demand access to computational resources for storing information, carrying out data processing, or running remote software.
The key advantage connecting all three is that users get to tap into the systems and resources they require, regardless of where they are. Meanwhile, the businesses or organizations using these cloud-based services get to do so without concern about having to maintain physical hardware or infrastructure to get it to work.
But cloud migration isn’t the same as, for instance, buying a new external hard drive for storing your company data on. To ensure a straightforward, seamless transition, there are several important factors you’ll want to consider ahead of time. Here are four things to inform your decision as you plan the cloud migration process.
#1. Security risks
Cloud security is a perennial concern for many. Simply put: What makes the cloud great (the fact that you can access it from anywhere) also poses a security challenge (if you can gain access, so can others.) Compounding this issue is confusion over who is responsible for cloud security. Many users will eschew proper security precautions because they assume this is all the responsibility of the cloud services provider. In fact, many issues — such as misconfigurations, like leaving open administration ports for possible attacks, or using unsecured APIs — may be the responsibility of the user. Similarly, weakly protected accounts can be hijacked by attackers who may then gain access to systems to cause damage from the inside.
What to do about it: Keep systems up to date, and use good data hygiene to maintain full awareness over the data assets you own, optimizing configurations, and ensuring that regular backups are made. Cybersecurity solutions such as application security (RASP), data security (DAM), and network edge security (WAF) tools can also help protect you against web applications and API attacks which may lead to data theft, DDoS attacks, and more.
#2. Consider the costs
Before you begin your cloud migration, make sure that you factor in all of the costs to get a true sense of your cost exposure, and the various potential expenditure and savings involved. This is easier said than done. Migrating to the cloud comes with recurring costs to rent the necessary infrastructure. There will also be tiered costs depending upon your storage, compute, and network requirements. However, you will also need to ascertain what this is saving you versus keeping on-premises local storage, requiring infrastructure like support staff, server room, maintenance of systems, and more. There may also be additional calculations to be done — such as productivity increases by allowing systems to be more easily accessed remotely.
What to do about it: Carry out a full costing assessment before deciding upon your cloud migration strategy. Explore all of the different cloud computing models to find the one that will offer you the services you require at the right cost. Cloud providers should offer a solution that scales, allowing you to lean more heavily on their cloud infrastructure as your requirements change. Most cloud platforms will keep costs low initially to attract customers. Ensure that you also assess future growth potential to make sure you have selected a cloud provider who can offer competitive services and prices not just where you are now, but where you might be in a few years’ time.
#3. Vendor Lock-In
Cloud computing means that customers are no longer tied to physical, on-site computing infrastructure. Instead, this is taken care of by a third-party, with the user simply renting the resources that they need, when they need them. Based on that understanding of the cloud, it should be fairly easy to shift data to another cloud platform if, for whatever reason, the one you initially select does not fit with requirements. It’s not always quite this simple, however. Some cloud-based implementations can result in vendor lock-in, making it tough for enterprises to shift assets to another cloud platform without running into tech compatibility issues, high costs, legal constraints, and more.
What to do about it: When you sign up to a cloud platform, make sure that whichever one you pick has an exit strategy that will make transitions possible with minimum fuss. In addition, consider compatibility across different cloud vendors and your technology stack and requirements. Where possible, use open-standards for apps and ensure that data is standardized to ensure portability. As above, also make sure to assess costs of potentially migrating to a competing service.
#4. Consider the impact of the switch
When you update critical software, you can find yourself suffering downtime during which certains parts of your computer system may not be accessible. Exactly the same thing can happen when you carry out cloud migration. Rehosting, refactoring, and restructuring for a new cloud environment all take time — and come with disruption. You may, for example, have to modify your entire codebase as part of the cloud migration strategy. Don’t expect this to be instantaneous.
What to do about it: It should go without saying, but, where possible, avoid carrying out the migration process during your busiest time. You can also employ measures to ensure that your new cloud platform and your assets are entirely compatible prior to making the full switchover to the cloud environment. Your cloud provider may be able to help by offering advice. Similarly, seek out the expertise of cybersecurity experts who may be able to provide helpful tools to manage the migration process.