Outsourcing and migrating your IT services, network communications, data and applications to a cloud hosting solution can provide a huge advantage for many organizations. But an initial impact assessment should be done to determine what, if any, services should be migrated, and the burden and risk involved. The change has the potential to impact current IT staff levels, roles, and responsibilities.
This post explains how to perform a cloud hosting migration assessment. It is for managers in small to mid-sized companies who are considering or planning a migration and want to make sure they’re asking all the right questions.
Cloud Hosting Assessment Areas
The acronym IaaS is IT as a Service and can provide everything from help desk support to network design services for a cloud-based service. In his article “Creating a Cloud Readiness Assessment”, Bill Kleyman provides a valuable overview of the assessment areas that organizations should review. It is critical to understand how the business will adapt to Cloud services and data being hosted from the Internet versus locally.
If you have a large mobile staff now, migration will be mostly transparent to those users. Critical areas to test from the office include efficient access to data and applications which today reside on the local network, but will be served across the internet after migration. Internet speeds won’t be as fast as the local network. Tests can confirm whether performance is acceptable.
These are discussion points and potential areas to be tested prior to committing to a cloud-hosted solution:
- Internet access speeds are critical. If your brick and mortar office users are stuck with DSL speeds, there are other access considerations to research such as remote desktop, terminal server or Citrix. SmartHosting cloud hosting centers do not have any speed limitations and offer dedicated high-speed internet, but the bottleneck could be your location. Not all internet services are available everywhere.
- The amount of printing and what is being printed is another consideration. For example, a CAD drawing may be an issue to print across the Internet, particularly if the process ties up a computer. Again, there are technical solutions to address this need.
- Does your business need security and centralized user administration provided by a Windows Server or can basic login security to a folder structure suffice? Smaller businesses who may use a Windows server today may only need disk space for miscellaneous files. This can reduce cost and complexity.
- Are there interdependencies between applications, such as an SQL database, email, Salesforce, SharePoint, etc.? You get the idea. These need to be identified and designed to function properly as all services may not reside in the same location. Router and firewall considerations need to be identified in order to have the applications talk with one another.
- What level of security should be imposed on the users accessing data? Remember, security has an inverse relationship to flexibility. This can be a single sign-on approach or a hybrid of hardened security and login/password authentication.
- How scalable is the solution? Scalability is a big change in that user licenses are evolving into monthly subscriptions and expanding resources and disk space are no longer a capital cost for a new server or hard drives. This is one huge benefit of the IT Acceleration SmartHosting solution. You pay only for what you use. If your needs are reduced, you pay less. If you need to expand, you pay more.
When considering hosting services, be sure to ask yourself these questions:
- How quickly will I receive a response and is there a Help Desk number to call? Cloud Hosting service needs to be supported with immediate response and competent help desk staff. Too often, we find ourselves calling vendors and wasting so much time teaching them how to resolve the problem due to their lack of knowledge and experience. A typical call into GoDaddy to resolve a web or email issue can take multiple calls and 2-3 hours of time. We understand that pain. That is why IT Acceleration provides immediate access to report issues and takes ownership of the problem at that moment.
- When and how often is my data backed up? Data integrity is paramount. When you research vendors who are offering Cloud services, find out how your data will be backed up. Some vendors provide a replication of data, which can also replicate deletions of files and email, as well as corruption and viruses. Others leave it to the customer to backup their own data. Both approaches are unacceptable, in our opinion. The ability to restore individual files and emails can be critical and having an archive to pull from can be even more critical if data corruption is not identified early. Our practice is to backup data each night in addition to providing two-week rotations of backups.
- What platforms and services can be migrated to the cloud? Providing a comprehensive hosting platform is important for service continuity and minimizing vendors. Many of the Cloud providers only provide only a subset of services such as email hosting or file hosting or Cloud backup. At IT Acceleration, we essentially take the entire network infrastructure from the office and provide it as a whole service offering but in the Cloud and with one vendor. This ensures our clients have only one number to call for any issues, from support to expansion.
Making a decision to host your applications in the cloud is a major undertaking. Going through the exercise of a migration assessment and testing ensures success.
Contact IT Acceleration to learn more about our managed cloud hosting solution. We provide a free initial consultation to talk about challenges you face today and how we can address them so your business works seamlessly.