Preparing Your Organization to Move to the Cloud

These days, many organizations are drawn to migrating to the cloud. Reasons for this are plenty:

  • Users are working from home, so there is less (or no) need for shared office space or physical devices
  • The incredible uptick in available services like Microsoft 365, with Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and other collaborative cloud offerings
  • Cost reduction of SaaS products instead of servers or bulky applications – less administrative overhead and streamlined updates to services and applications versus scheduled maintenances and software installs

As alluring as the thought of jumping ship and launching your business into the cloud might be, there are important things to consider and address before you move. You need to ensure you have planned and your business is prepared for the move.

Things to Consider

Understand where you’re going, and what it will be like when you get there

Any new endeavor deserves proper consideration. Going to the cloud is a big leap for some organizations. You need to understand the “lay of the land” before you get there. What will be different. What will be entirely new?

Steps to take:

  • Familiarize yourself with the platform you have chosen. The service provider will have tonnes of documents, checklists, and best practice articles to help you onboard your business to the cloud.
  • Find a reliable cloud solutions company to assist with the process and provide valuable knowledge and experience. You don’t have to go it alone!

Are your users prepared?

Change management and user adoption might be the most important piece to preparing for a migration. Despite all the technical planning you might put into your migration, if your end users aren’t prepared, your migration won’t be considered a success.

Steps to take:

  • Get your users on board with the plan early. Explain the benefits, describe the “why”, and get them excited.
  • Encourage your users to participate by identifying current pain points, discussing “nice to haves” that might be addressed by the move, and providing feedback.

Excited and involved end users will help, not hinder, the transition ahead.

Where is your data?

Identifying the types of data you have (and where it lives) is an important step in preparing for a migration. Make a list of what types of data you have, and turn this list into an inventory that you can use to start doing some clean up and organization. This task alone, once completed, will save you hours when you start your move to the cloud. The cleaner and more organized your house is, the easier it is to move!

Steps to take:

  • Review your data: What do you have? Include files, SharePoint content, images, videos, databases, document repositories, user “home drives”, etc.
  • Determine if the data needs to migrate: Just because you have it, doesn’t mean you need it. Should the data be migrated (as in “Everyone needs it, it is business critical and relevant”), or should it be archived, back up externally, or deleted?
  • Organize the data: Get your data “migration ready”. Organize the content and source locations as easily movable directory structures (HR, Finance, Management, etc.) If the data exists in SharePoint sites, review which ones you should migrate. Are they relevant? Are they used? What content do they hold?

What services will you need?

Take stock of what services and solutions you currently have, and how these solutions might be migrated or reimagined in the cloud. For some organizations, this might mean ripping the band aid off and starting completely fresh in the cloud.

Steps to take:

  • Create an inventory of applications and services your business currently uses. Can these be replaced in the cloud solution you have chosen?
  • Identify areas like:
    • Security (anti-virus, threat protection)
    • Office applications (Word, Excel, or similar)
    • Backup software
    • Messaging software
    • Audio-conferencing
    • Phone systems
    • Business Intelligence frameworks
  • Identify which users will need access to which services (this is particularly useful information when it comes time to consider licensing requirements).

Do you have good internet?

Moving to the cloud will increase internet traffic. Whether your business operates from a physical office location or your users work from home, a good internet connection is a must. A service plan of 300 Mbps or better is recommended.

Steps to take:

  • Perform a speed test from the office or at home. Collect results from both a hardwired connection (device with an ethernet cable) and a Wi-Fi connection.
  • Record your speed results for both; Wi-Fi will be roughly a third of the total result you get from a hardwired result.
  • Plan to upgrade your internet service plan if necessary and do it before you start transitioning to the cloud.
  • Do you need additional access points to deliver good signals across your office for mobile access to services? Implement these access points before your move to the cloud.

Are your devices fit for the cloud?

On a one lane road, you’re only as fast as the slowest car ahead of you. Don’t let your workstation or devices slow you down in the cloud.

Not all devices, even if they are “still working fine” will be suitable for the move to cloud services. There will be additional demands on devices for resources (memory, CPU) and network speeds. Depending on how many older systems you have kicking about, you may need to invest in some newer systems with current operating systems.

Steps to take:

  • Create an inventory of your user workstations; include age of device and operating system.
  • Plan to replace any older devices or those with outdated operating systems.

Do you have legacy line of business solutions?

Take stock of your current applications. What are you using? What’s mission critical? Can they be migrated to the cloud on a virtual server? Does the vendor offer a SaaS option? If not, you’ll need to conduct further research to plan how to continue use of the application.

Steps to take:

  • Determine how you will continue to provision this application for your users.
    • How will users access the service?
      • Can it be migrated to the cloud?
      • Is there a SaaS option you can migrate to?
      • Will you require a server in an office that users can connect to?
      • Does the service require a “local directory” connection?
    • Is there an option to replace the service with a SaaS application?

What licensing do you need?

Unless every one of your users has exactly the same job function, there is a good chance they will require difference licenses. Create a “licensing matrix” that maps out what each user will need once migrated to the cloud. The matrix will help you determine which subscriptions to purchase and which users to assign them to.

Steps to take:

  • Review your users and determine their services needs in the cloud.
  • Speak with your licensing reseller (if you have one) for helpful guidance on pricing and subscriptions.
  • If you are a not-for-profit, determine whether you are eligible for NFP pricing.
  • Create a licensing matrix and determine where your users fall on it.
  • Take advantage of trials; many cloud service providers offer trials that can be used for months before needing to purchase a subscription. This trial period can give you time to “kick the tires” on what each license offers compared to your needs.

What security considerations need to be made?

Become informed about security in the cloud before you make the move. There could be some limiting factors that affect your decisions, or in some cases you may need to bolster your on-premises security in order to start your migration securely. This article on cloud migration security does a good job of listing the many things to consider from a security perspective when planning a move to the cloud.

In Conclusion…

Making the move to the cloud can be a daunting experience, making it all the more important to fully prepare. Review what will be required from you, your business, and your users, and ensure you understand the solution you’re moving to and how it will change (for the better!) the way you do business.

Capitalize on resources available to you, including documentation from your selected vendor or service provider and cloud Solutions Partners for guidance and expertise. Prepare detailed inventories of what currently exists in your environment to better understand what you will need in the cloud. Finally, communicate the project to your end users and get them involved and excited, as they will be helpful allies as you work through the transition.

Looking for assistance moving your business to the cloud? Get in touch at regroove.ca

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