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5 Steps to a Pain Free Cloud

25th July 2016

Migrating your infrastructure to the cloud can set your business free to grow.  There are clear, well known benefits that the cloud brings – improved reliability, lower maintenance costs, the ability to scale quickly – but in some cases, a migration can cause a lot of headaches.

Here’s our 5 steps to a pain free cloud.

Proper Planning

Whether your objective is selective migration of some elements of your existing infrastructure to a new service, or a wider move toward full virtualisation, you need to set clear objectives and boundaries that will define the scope of your project.

At the very least, you will need to investigate the following:

  • What data you want to store
  • What applications you want to run
  • What usage levels you will have

Having a comprehensive plan of what the goals are for the cloud project will ensure that things do not become uncontrolled at a later date.

An experienced consultant will often help to rein in expectations about what is appropriate and may reduce the initial goals based on their knowledge of what is required rather than what is desired.  For example, a business may have the objective of migrating 100% of their infrastructure to a cloud platform, however based on the software being used, or data governance requirements, this might not be possible.

Review What You Have

The simplest way of creating a preliminary specification for your cloud infrastructure is to conduct a full review of your existing technology.

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of what you have is important, as this will inform the level of specification that you will need.

If you wanted to replicate a physical server on a virtual machine, you would need to ensure that the specification matches.  In most cases, the capacity of a virtual infrastructure can be much higher than a physical equivalent for any given costs, and there is far more flexibility about growth and scale in the future.

In some cases, businesses have tried to migrate from a high capacity physical network to a much lower specification virtual network.  This will always end badly.  You need sufficient resource to match what you had previously.

In addition to mapping out your actual server infrastructure, it is also essential to review your wider connectivity. If you’ve historically had a server farm or datacentre that is physically on site, moving to a remote solution will increase your internet usage. You might need to upgrade the speed of your connection in order to facilitate the levels of data transfer that will come.

As you review what you have, it is useful to also consider what you don’t need.  Your business may have legacy data that is several years out of date.  Migrating to the cloud is an opportunity to have a clean out.  This can be useful in two ways:

  • Minimising the risk of incorrect information being accessed
  • Reducing costs through lower storage requirements

Depending on the data governance requirements for your industry, it may be possible to prioritise different parts of your data so that the most commonly accessed or used information is placed on machines with a higher spec to make it easier to access, whereas archives of older data can be stored elsewhere to reduce overall spend levels.

Establish Costs

Most businesses investigate the cloud as a means of reducing their reliance on legacy equipment, and in most cases, the cost of the cloud infrastructure will be lower than the corresponding physical equipment.

In the costing phase of a cloud migration, it is essential that you set a budget that is appropriate to the needs you have.

Subscription costs for the cloud can vary considerably over time, and are dependent on factors including the amount of usage that you have.  That is why understanding your current usage levels is essential.  A lot of businesses discover quite late into the process of migrating to the cloud that their overall costs will be somewhat higher than anticipated due to usage levels.

Priced like for like, cloud costs will normally be lower than comparable physical infrastructure, but when specifications for virtual machines are higher than the servers they replace, or consumption is unanticipated, the overall cost may be higher.

Engage with an Expert

Having support from consultants is invaluable when planning a major IT project, particularly if it involves the use of new technologies that your existing infrastructure team are unfamiliar with.  Working with a specialist consultant at the early stages of the project will help you to understand all of the potential barriers to success and to plan around them.

Experienced Azure consultants will be able to advise you on the limits of the platform, as well as explaining the different strengths and how they relate to your specific needs.  Likewise, if you’re planning a migration to other cloud providers such as Amazon, or Google, the same is true.

Each of the major public cloud providers has similar benefits and costs, and virtual machines can be defined to meet your exact needs, however there may be shortfalls in the available technology or a lack of support from one provider that is not the case with another.

When moving to the cloud, it’s essential that you choose a service provider that is well established and stable.  An experienced consultant will be able to keep you informed about which provider offers the best fit for your needs.

Find a Partner You’re Comfortable With

The most stressful part of a major IT project is the implementation.  The planning can be difficult, but before things are set in stone, the risk is lower.  Actually migrating data to the cloud usually involves considerable time and effort to test and ensure that nothing is lost.

The weight of effort involved in moving to the cloud is comparable to moving house – it’s not something you’ll want to do frequently.  As a result, it’s essential that you find a partner for your cloud services who you are comfortable working with in the long term.  You need to find a company with the expertise needed to provide a strong lead when required, and also a company who have your interests at heart when it comes to ongoing subscription costs.

If you’re planning a migration to Azure, or indeed if you want to find out whether The Microsoft Cloud is right for your organisation, please contact a member of our team to discover more about how we work, and how Cloud Control from igroup can help to keep your cloud infrastructure working consistently and save you money at the same time.

Call now on 0203 697 0302 to speak to a member of our team

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