Many businesses have been pressured to make a digital transformation to keep running despite the pandemic and city-wide lockdowns.
Making this online transition often involves cloud migration — a process that requires adopting a cloud-based infrastructure. Moving systems in a centralized cloud-based platform let users access relevant information through any digital device.
Let’s review what cloud migration is, the benefits it offers and how you can prepare for business on the cloud.
What is Cloud Migration?
Cloud migration is about transferring digital assets—applications, documents, and infrastructure — from on-premises to the cloud. Upon uploading the data through a cloud service, businesses can access their information technology (IT) infrastructure remotely.
To make it simple, think of Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive. These platforms offer backups for normal users—and cloud migration kind of works the same way. However, companies have more resources so they require a large-scale cloud provider such as Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
Why Move to the Cloud?
Why are businesses moving to the cloud? In the past, companies were required to purchase and manage an on-premises IT infrastructure. This entailed updating hardware and software, constant monitoring, and hiring an IT team for constant management.
Here are some of the reasons why this process is outdated and why organizations are making the move to the cloud:
1. Efficiency and Lower Costs
Cloud-based organizations have access to advanced computer services and servers. No need to purchase and manage on-premises hardware or get IT experts to allot their time to manage it.
A VMWare study found large companies can save an average of 40% to 50% on operation costs by transitioning from in-house data center facilities to a public cloud service provider.
Cloud providers even offer a pay-as-you-go pricing structure so you only pay for the services you use. This makes it a more affordable option, as compared to managing an on-premises IT infrastructure.
2. Product and Service Updates
Cloud providers offer regular product updates and services to improve their platforms’ speed and performance. Users will automatically have access to powerful servers, limitless resources, and plug-and-play machine learning solutions.
3. Disaster Recovery
The average cost of an unplanned outage is nearly $9,000 per minute, according to the Ponemon Institute.
Having a disaster recovery plan and creating an annual disaster recovery budget can help you prepare for the worst. However, for companies with regional centers, bouncing back from outages and disruptions can be quite a challenge because of multiple on-premise data centers at remote locations.
With a top-notch cloud service provider, IT infrastructure is streamlined and centralized in the cloud. Hence, businesses can recover faster from cyberattacks and outages.
Benefits of Cloud Migration
The advantages of cloud migration have led to its rising popularity among large enterprises and small businesses. If you’re still not convinced, here are some tangible ways it can boost your operations.
1. Improve Security
Most cloud providers go to great lengths to comply with security and compliance regulations because big companies rely on their services. Take for instance Amazon Web Services which meets compliance certifications for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other industry-specific compliance needs.
Furthermore, their services include advanced security features such as cross-enterprise visibility and security analytics. You can even get automatic security updates to keep your system safe from the latest security threats. A Microsoft survey found 94% of small businesses believe enhanced security is one of the benefits of cloud migration.
Having your data on the cloud is also safer than keeping it in a hard drive or computer-systems-storing units in offices.
2. Easy Access
Being cloud-based means employees can access information from anywhere in the world, using any device. Because of social distancing measures and nationwide lockdowns, this has been crucial for businesses that have implemented remote work arrangements
Even if the pandemic ends, we expect many companies to stick to virtual work arrangements. Hence, cloud migration will help businesses prepare for the future of work, as well as access top talent from across the globe. The ability to work from any device will also improve the efficiency and collaboration across teams like field sales teams on the go.
Scaling on-premises IT infrastructure involves a lot of planning, a huge upfront cost, and top-notch hardware. As a business grows, it must consistently update its hardware because it will continuously depreciate.
Unlike conventional infrastructure, cloud migration enables seamless scaling. Organizations can simultaneously add or remove resources as needed. Furthermore, data and applications can grow within your existing infrastructure with little change to your company’s efficiency or user experience.
Because cloud migration is cost-effective and powerful, businesses can reduce manpower costs, speed up operations and improve customer satisfaction.
What Business Processes Can Be Moved to the Cloud?
Of course, business operations will benefit from transitioning to the cloud. Let’s take a look at vital functions or processes that you must add to your cloud infrastructure.
A cloud-based email system can streamline and save important client or customer-related conversations. Take for instance the Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) by AWS, which lets remote marketing and sales teams send promotional and transactional emails.
Moving emails to the cloud will free up space in your servers, too. Also, IT teams won’t need to dedicate time for maintenance which means they can focus on high-priority tasks that will drive results.
Another advantage of cloud-based systems is that it automatically archives messages. No need to stress over employees deleting relevant client or consumer-related information. Instead, leverage advanced search capability features to find a specific message or conversation.
2. Collaborative Software
A global workplace of marketers, developers, designers, and salespeople will be the future of large enterprises.
According to the survey Workforce Futures: The Role of People in the Future of Work by Fuze, 83% of employees don’t believe they need to stay in the office to be productive. Also, 70% of workers can access relevant documents when working remotely.
Now, how do you collaborate with remote workers? Cloud-based systems let workers access software and applications through the internet. Hence, a business can instantaneously communicate and collaborate with local and regional teams, as well as compete in the global marketplace.
For example, popular tools such as Basecamp, Zoho Projects, Trello, Jira and Asana offer business-related functionalities for remote teams. Managers can easily assign tasks, offer feedback, share project documents, and get updates whether they’re at the home, in the office, or working from abroad.
3. A Digital Phone System
Similar to cloud-based project management systems, a digital phone system lets teams communicate with their colleagues, clients, and customers. It is also crucial for sales teams that rely on voice messaging to get leads across the sales funnel.
Integrating a digital phone system could cost some money, but a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) system is a viable alternative for small businesses. Note that voice quality may not be as good and operations could suffer due to unexpected power outages.
How to Plan Your Cloud Migration Workflow
Just like everything else in business, a business cloud migration requires planning. Monitor what’s been done, and what you should do next to ensure its success.
Here are the steps you need to know to implement your cloud migration workflow.
1. Ask Why
Cloud migration comes with many benefits, but what do you hope to gain from it?
Write down the goals and objectives of your cloud migration. Begin with a big goal for the entire organization, followed by specific objectives from departments or teams.
Next, determine the baseline of your former IT infrastructure. Set higher goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) for your cloud-based system and compare the performance so you can measure your results.
2. Plan Your Cloud Migration
List down the business processes and documents that will migrate first, and how you’ll get it done. Start by moving the applications to the cloud which require little effort, although others may require several adjustments.
The good news is popular cloud providers such as Azure, AWS, and GCP have various tools to ensure a seamless cloud migration. This includes a cloud cost calculator such as the AWS Pricing Calculator and AWS Trusted Advisor (for Amazon), Azure Pricing Calculator and Microsoft Azure Advisor (for Azure) and Google Cloud Pricing Calculator (for Google).
Besides determining the upfront cost, you’ll also want to measure your ROI (return on investment) for things you’ll be migrating and the length of time it will take to get these results.
3. Migrate your Apps and Data
At this stage, start small and migrate data that is not complex nor critical for your businesses’ operations—then gradually work your way up. There are different cloud migration patterns based on your organization’s workload so pick which best fits your business.
Once you’re done, deactivate your older infrastructure. You can also run 2 environments simultaneously until your teams are comfortable with the cloud-based system. Monitor your cloud performance and KPIs—then adjust your current operating model.
Making the Move to the Cloud
No matter which business process you decide to move to the cloud, it’s important to plan. Identify the goals you want to achieve from the transition.
Assess the capabilities and features of the top cloud services you consider. Do your homework and try the free trial to determine whether this solution is fit for your business.