"Cloud computing is a rapidly growing part of the business marketplace. Increasingly, companies are moving from traditional computing services that involve local servers to cloud computing models. This change offers plenty of advantages for certain businesses and applications, but the process of switching to cloud services also has some dangers. In order to avoid these dangers, your business needs to engage in proven cloud migration strategies. The following tips will help your company switch from traditional dedicated server computing to cloud computing in an efficient and safe way.
1. Create a Safe Backup of Your Server
Cloud migration is generally a rather safe procedure. But, while it is safe well over 99% of the time, there is a marginal danger that you will lose data during the migration. By creating a complete, independent backup, you assure that your data is safe during the transfer. Additionally, should you determine that cloud computing is not a good fit for your applications or business, a backup server will make it easier for you to revert back to your more traditional business model.
2. Familiarize Yourself With Industry Compliance Requirements
Your current system and setup is currently compliant with industry requirements, but it is possible that you may fall out of compliance when you switch to cloud computing. For example, HIPAA requirements limit how data can be shared concerning patients and prescriptions. By switching to the cloud, you may unintentionally be in violation of these rules, even if you are using the same software and applications you were using before. Research each of the requirements carefully, specifically how they interact with cloud computing. This may require you to make changes to the security of your system, how applications interact, or how permissions are granted for your applications. In some cases, you may even need to keep some of your database or applications on a traditional server while transferring the majority to the cloud.
3. Research Cloud Computing Vendors
When you switch to cloud computing, you will be contracting with a vendor of cloud services. While the services that competing vendors offer are similar, they aren't identical. You need to compare data storage costs, including the costs to increase your storage if necessary, security procedures, the number of simultaneous data accesses allowed, and support hours, just for starters. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the environment that the vendor uses. Nearly every vendor uses a proprietary environment that may or may not be compatible with your current applications. It is much easier to migrate to a vendor that uses a compatible environment than it is to reprogram or switch your applications to be compliant with the environment of your vendor.
4. Perform a Test Run
One of the best cloud migration strategies is to perform a test run. Any good cloud vendor will allow you to migrate just a small portion of your system to their services for a low fee or possibly even for free. By migrating only one or two small applications, you can get non-theoretical data on how well your applications function after the migration and whether or not the migration is offering you advantages over your current setup. It may even be possible to perform the test run in parallel with your current setup, allowing the application or data to be accessed either via the cloud or via your local server. This allows you to analyze the data from both options and see how they compare.
5. Perform the Full Migration During Slow Time
A migration takes time and there are plenty of steps that can bog down the transition. Every second of down time results in lost profits. You can mitigate this some by keeping your original server live for as long as possible, but at some point you will need to change the DNS for your domain or make other transitions that simply require some down time. Schedule this down time for periods when business is slow and expect it to take longer than you planned for. If your server is small enough, this may mean you will lose only a single night. If it is large, this could cost you days, which means you may want to delay your migration until a traditionally slow business month."