March 23rd, 2017

Cloud migration tips

When it comes to cloud migration, most organizations tend to err on the side of caution. After all, it’s typically their mission-critical data and applications that are being migrated. If something goes wrong, it has an impact on everything from operations to revenue to customer and public perception; not exactly the stuff anyone wants to gamble with.

At GT.net, we’ve migrated thousands of applications and related databases to public, private and hybrid cloud environments for our customers around the world. We’ve learned a few things along the way and have collated them below; keep reading for our top tips for a successful cloud migration.


1. Find and partner with the right managed cloud provider.

 

As stands to reason, the first step in a cloud migration is finding the right managed cloud provider. Here are a few points that are incredibly important to cover with any prospective providers.

First, ask to see its most recent Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 report. This is a third-party attestation of an organization’s security, availability and processing integrity as well as the privacy and confidentiality of the data within its systems.

Once you’ve got the report in hand, read it thoroughly. Pay particular attention to how exactly the provider manages backups, what its security measures are, and whether or not there is a review and approval process for potentially high-impact changes to the environment.

Additionally, make sure any managed cloud provider under consideration offers you time with the managers and engineers who will be working directly on your cloud migration. You’ll want to be certain that these professionals don’t just understand the particular requirements of your organization but also are equipped to build a customized plan to suit them. If you get any hint that you’ll be shoehorned into a cookie-cutter solution, keep looking.

 

2. Determine security protocols (for your organization as well as your provider).

 

Security is everyone’s responsibility. Make sure your provider works closely with you to ensure that security ‘best practices’ are followed every step of the way. Demand that your provider is both transparent about what choices are being made and proactive about bringing you and your team in on the process.

It is also important to ask for details about how your data will be encrypted before it is transferred over the Internet during migration. What algorithm is being used? What crypto-protocol? Ask for explanations as to why the provider has chosen those tools and proof that they are as up-to-date as possible.

Another point of note: strong security is necessary to comply with various industry standards and compliance regulations (e.g., HIPAA, PCI, etc.). Your managed cloud provider should be exceedingly conversant in these standards, and consult with you about compliance regularly.

 

3. Understand your own infrastructure before your cloud migration.

The better you understand your own infrastructure, the better equipped you’ll be for your cloud migration. Take the time to update network diagrams, review what (if any) new equipment is needed, and become familiar with how each component of your infrastructure interacts with others. Your provider should be happy to take part in the process, and we at GT.net include it in our offering.

This due diligence will prepare you and your provider to build a migration plan that fits seamlessly with your existing infrastructure and workflows.

 

4. Test and validate the process until you’re comfortable.

Kicking off a cloud migration and crossing your fingers is never a good idea. Both you and your managed cloud provider should have complete and thorough insight into the cloud migration process. Further, your provider should offer up extensive testing periods that run until you and your team are truly comfortable.

 

 

Remember that no two testing periods or plans are alike. Be prepared to advocate for your company if you feel you’re being sold a ‘one-size-fits-all’ testing solution. And if that’s the case, remember that it’s not too late to terminate the contract and find a more skilled company with which to do business.

 

5. Don’t get complacent.

Following a successful cloud migration, it’s tempting to ‘set and forget’ your environment. After all, the hard part is done, right? Well…not quite. Bear in mind that small problems can start quickly after a migration, and can easily balloon into crises if not managed correctly.

Proactively mitigate this potential issue by having an in-depth conversation about monitoring with your prospective provider prior to cloud migration. Ask what kind of infrastructure health monitoring they provide and what exact parameters they monitor. Find out, in writing, what the process is if something goes wrong and how event severity is determined. The more you know about how your provider will keep an eye on your data, applications and the hardware they run on, the better equipped you’ll be to co-manage anything that goes awry.

Ultimately, you want to find a managed cloud provider that you can trust, that you can work with, and that has the experience to manage and monitor just about any eventuality while keeping everything secure and compliant.

Now that we’ve covered how to migrate to the cloud, it’s important to define what a successful deployment looks like to your company. Look for our upcoming blog on success measures in the cloud, which will lay out benchmarking and tracking opportunities for performance, uptime, operational efficiency and the like.

As always, if GT.net can be of any assistance throughout your process, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re always happy to chat about cloud migration, and can help you develop a plan for success.