There is no question that most experts agree that cloud computing represents the future of IT. However, some factors, such as the disproportionate media coverage to recent issues with cloud computing companies, inadequate legislation (particularly in Europe,) and a general distrust of new technologies makes many businesses skeptic about migrating their whole IT infrastructure to the cloud. Fortunately, there is no need to migrate the entirety of your business all at once.
The cloud is, by nature, flexible. This means that a transitional approach towards a successful migration to the cloud is usually the best option. This can be an effective sales pitch for cloud vendors looking to attract skeptic clients as well as a way for businesses to get used to what is, essentially, a whole new way of thinking about computing and storage. In this article we will take a look at a five-step process that can allow businesses to migrate seamlessly to the cloud while also allowing management to get used to the idea of working within the infrastructure of a cloud-based system.
Processing and storage viewed as utilities
The key to changing how we view computing is to start thinking of computing as a service, as one additional utility your company hires. Just as electricity, water, and sewage are both reliable and essential to most businesses, computing needs, such as storage and processing, are also essential and, in the right hands, are just as reliable. It would probably not be cost-effective to purchase a power plant to power your company’s electric equipment. Similarly, today it is no longer cost-effective to build a data center for your storage needs. However, changing this mindset takes time, which requires a gradual approach.
Five gradual steps for moving completely to the cloud
Fortunately, thanks to the flexibility that the cloud gives its costumers, a gradual migration is usually the best solution. While there is usually no need for it from a technical point of view, from a human resources standpoint it will help avoid human error and allow everyone involved to shift into the cloud as well. The following five steps can help make the transition to the cloud a smooth one:
- Move the company’s archived data to the cloud: Most companies have huge amounts of data that are not accessed frequently but that are still necessary. This kind of data is perfect for cloud storage since managers can be assured that any problem (highly unlikely) would not affect the company’s day to day operations. In any case, skeptical businesses can backup this data at first before they move it to the cloud (which is usually a good idea in any case.) After a while of working with cloud-based archives and experiencing the cloud’s reliability first hand, most companies will find that they are ready to free up some space and save money by taking the next step.
- Move the company’s backups to the cloud: This will include the backups of the archive data from the previous step. This will also be seen as a low risk step by management due to the nature of backup data. There is a reason why cloud-based backups, such as a remote backup service, which is a must-have in any place dealing with sensitive data, are so popular. The nature of backing up data makes data that is available everywhere you go ideal. After a while of using agile cloud-based backups, most computer users will not want to go back to the relative sluggishness and inconvenience of on-site backups.
- Moving the company’s disaster recovery solution to the cloud: Cloud-based disaster recovery services are reliable and, best of all, have a very low chance of being hit by the same type of disaster hitting your local servers, unlike on-site disaster recovery. Thanks to the fact that your data can be accessed from any location, recovering from a disaster is faster and with fewer long-term effects. Mean Time To Restore (MTTR) is the most important statistic in disaster recovery and with cloud-based disaster recovery, you can change your MTTR from days to only a matter of hours.
- Having stored a large portion of a company’s data on the cloud, it is then recommended to operate with a hybrid cloud solution for a while: A hybrid cloud usually works well for small and medium businesses because it helps them transition from a traditional computing infrastructure to a full cloud-based system. A business can remain on a hybrid cloud for as long as they feel comfortable, or can use a hybrid solution permanently if they have specific problems with a full cloud-based solution. However, technological trends certainly indicate that in the next few years cloud computing will be the norm rather than the exception.
- It is finally time to move production to the cloud: Moving data and processing involved in a business’ day-to-day work to the cloud should seem like a logical step due to the convenience that comes from integrating day-to-day operations with what was established in previous steps. This is perfect for businesses that are just starting up. IT infrastructure and personnel are a huge investment that many start-up businesses cannot afford. An equivalent amount of processing and storage on the cloud costs only a fraction of setting up a data center and purchasing expensive equipment.
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About the Guest Author:
Nida Rasheed is a freelance writer and owner of an outsourcing company, Nida often finds herself wanting to write about the subjects that are closest to her heart. She lives in Islamabad, Pakistan and can be found on Twitter @nidarasheed.