While the benefits offered by cloud infrastructure are clear, many businesses are still struggling to adopt the technology, mostly due to uncertainty and aversion to the perceived risk of moving business critical applications from tried and tested platforms. In this article,  Peter Job, CEO at cloud consultancy, Intergence, offers some advice for organisations looking to migrate their IT infrastructure to the cloud.

1. Business buy-in – It is vital to ensure that senior management buy-in and support the migration process within all parts of an organisation (development, operations, architecture, user groups etc). A cloud migration will need to go through several pilots and iterations before full deployment. If it is to be successful, senior management need to be aware and supportive of the timescales and process, so that momentum can be maintained.

2. Due diligence – Once you have the high level buy-in, make sure that you understand the processes behind the applications that you use. For example, from a technical perspective – what applications are where? What are their dependencies and what performance metrics and KPIs need to be maintained? But also, the user processes need to be considered; how many people use these servers? How will the migration affect their processes and ability to work? Are there other projects that could be affected by the migration? Finally, are you comfortable with the data associated with the application flowing through the cloud?

3. Plan the migration. Start small. Set up and run some pilots to check that your plans execute smoothly. These will also provide some baseline numbers; by running the pilot for several months, invaluable data on the likely cloud performance and user experience can be gained. The pilot will also help demonstrate the cost savings that can be made. After the pilot, start to move logical segments into the cloud, making sure at each stage that users and managers are happy with the new service they are receiving. This way, you won’t be caught out by unexpected glitches.

4. Mature the process – Once all the required applications are in the cloud you need to take more steps to mature your set up. Ensure all staff are certified in the cloud technologies being used; look into fully leveraging cloud capabilities such as automated fail over, monitoring and tracking of resource usage. From a business perspective, make sure that the financial impact of the migration is appreciated in terms of business continuity improvements as well as the savings on hardware and power usage.

5. Obtain feedback and act on it – Ultimately, your applications are used by employees in your company and their productivity is important. Throughout the process make sure that you gather feedback on their experiences with the new setup. A mistake at an earlier stage – for instance mixing incompatible applications (from a physical resource perspective) – can lead to having to un-migrate everything and start again. Catching this through test users reporting poor performance is much better than the help desk being inundated with tickets about your business critical application on a Monday morning!

6. Optimisation – Your business doesn’t stay static, so why should your cloud? Keep monitoring both current and future requirements and plan accordingly. Use analytics to check on user experience and resource usage and leverage the information you collect back into your business processes.

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