Cloud migration for data storage has proved to be a cost-effective strategy for almost every organisation that has adopted the procedure. However, when a company is ready to make the move the change can be met with mixed reactions. While logically it makes sense to embrace the cloud, other concerns crop up, not the least being the issue of downtime, data loss, and security breaches.
To ensure that the process proceeds without issue, it helps to have a cloud migration checklist in place with all the essential areas that need to be considered when planning for cloud migration. Below is a checklist with points that will help every business during the process.
1. Make a cloud migration plan
A detailed planning process is required before the cloud migration process begins. During this planning session, a business needs to be very clear about the challenges that may arise and note them down. The first challenge is the migration process itself; this could impact workflow and therefore needs to be scheduled at a time when it will have minimum impact on the business.
The next big challenge that comes up is the loss of data that could occur during the migration process. To mitigate the risks of data loss, companies can talk to their cloud provider about a cloud migration strategy to prevent data loss, and they also need to explore other backup options.
Choosing a cloud and having adequate security are two more common challenges that can arise. These issues will be dealt with in more detail in this report. Each company also needs to take a closer look at its own processes to determine any other challenges that cloud migration could pose.
2. Choose a cloud
When choosing a cloud there are four options; public, private, hybrid cloud and hybrid infrastructure.
A public cloud exists on the internet and offers offsite storage. The main advantage of a public cloud is the ease of accessibility that it offers which is required for shared resources. The main disadvantage, however, is that it is relatively more vulnerable to security breaches. Public clouds are preferred during collaborative projects, developing and testing code for applications, and when a company needs incremental capacity. Any organisation that chooses a public cloud should address the security concerns that could arise, right at the start of the migration process.
Companies can own private clouds on their internal networks. Private clouds have tighter security which the company has full control over. While accessibility is limited for a private cloud, this option is ideal for storage of sensitive data and when companies need to show compliance with government regulations.
As the name states the hybrid cloud is a combination of the public and private cloud systems. In the case of a hybrid cloud, sensitive data can be stored on the private cloud while shareable information can be on the public cloud. This option offers the user the best of both worlds, but with the challenge of having to maintain two platforms and migrating data separately.
The fourth option is a hybrid between physical and cloud storage. In this case, an organisation can choose to retain some of its information on premises and move the rest to the cloud. When choosing this cloud migration plan, the dependencies between applications needs to be well documented so that any issues that could arise can be identified and suitable measures taken to resolve them.
3. Loop employees into the plan
All employees need to be informed of the cloud migration strategy. Not all of them might be comfortable with the changes that the migration entails, which is why an orientation session should be conducted to train all those involved with the new system. Employees can be given the chance to test the process which will give them a feel of the new infrastructure and also check runtimes and integration points.
Where sensitive data is involved, management can take a call on which employees have access to the data on the cloud. Employees that have access to the data should be given the right security clearance and all logins should be recorded.
4. Have a shadowing period
The movement to cloud should have a shadowing period which is set aside for observing and testing. Beta testers or power users identified during the Migration Planning stage should be using the systems on the cloud during this stage, and point out any issues that may impact a smooth rollout to a wider audience. As many functions as possible should be tested to ensure that all systems are running without a problem. Issues that do come up can be resolved during the shadowing period.
5. Set security protocols
Regardless of whether the data is highly sensitive like medical and financial records, or less sensitive like buyer preferences, it should not fall into the wrong hands. When choosing a cloud provider, the security policies should be reviewed carefully to ensure the safety of the stored information. Within the organisation too, security protocols should be set in place so that only authorised personnel have access. A two-step verification process can help to keep data more secure and regular security upgrades can protect the whole system.
HIPAA compliant companies need to first check with their cloud provider if the required measures have been taken for data protection, their data encryption practices, and their safety track record. If additional security is required companies can talk to their service provider about the options they can provide to ensure that the data is secure.
6.Have a resource management strategy
Every company that chooses a cloud migration strategy needs to keep in mind that several changes will have to be made within the organisation during the shift. Among these changes is the need to invest in cloud-monitoring tools, hiring new employees that are qualified to use those tools, and reassigning employees who monitored physical storage devices to new tasks. In some cases the organisation might have to outsource the cloud monitoring to the cloud service provider when hiring new talent is beyond its scope.
Processes that were previously handled in-house would now be carried out offsite and a new flow of events will develop. Even if a new team is recruited to keep cloud monitoring and computing within the company, a support partner would be required to assist with the initial transition and any problems that arise thereafter. The need for these resources will have to be accounted for during the cloud migration planning stage.
7. Allocate time for training and adoption
A migration is incomplete without a proper training period. Users need to be informed and prepared for the changes that will impact the way that they have been using the systems/infrastructure till that point. They need to be given demonstrations and trained to use the new system so that they are comfortable with it and are aware of the advantages that it offers to them. Speed, Performance, and Security, are a few advantages that could entice users to adopt the new system.
Cloud migration is the need of the hour for any organisation that deals with large amounts of data. By following the points on this cloud migration checklist, companies can have a smoother transition, reduce downtime, and find a cloud-based storage system that matches their business goals.