Plan for Success: How to Migrate to the Cloud

If you’re not in the cloud already, you will be soon. 88% of companies will be using at least one cloud application by 2018. Yet somehow, only 25% of organizations have repeatable, managed, or optimized cloud strategies. 32% of businesses have no cloud strategy at all – and only 1% have a fully-optimized cloud strategy.

That’s because cloud migrations are a new kind of IT. Instead of implementing hardware and training your employees on how to maintain it, you’re negotiating SLAs and ensuring application availability. The cloud is a powerful tool, but it can turn into a burden with a botched transition. A business needs to ensure its availability, security, and pricing are correct before switching to a cloud-based solution.

The transition itself isn’t the hard part. You could spin up a cloud instance and move VMs in less than a week. What’s hard is intelligently selecting the right provider, ensuring your applications are secure, and pricing your cloud environment correctly. Those decisions aren’t easy to make.

What an optimized strategy looks like

A truly optimized cloud strategy means knowing your company’s data is classified and encrypted. Each application needs to have a full ruleset with data classification. It’s more than likely that your company can’t send all of its data straight to the cloud – whether because of regulatory oversight or security concerns, you need to make sure your data only goes where it’s permitted. What type of cloud security solution are you using? Have you created a decision support matrix to evaluate the impact a cloud environment will have across your entire business? If your data isn’t classified, your cloud security solution is immature, and your environment priced appropriately, then your strategy isn’t optimized.

Data classification extends beyond security. With the ever-increasing amount of breach activity, data protection strategies need to be properly defined prior to any cloud migration. Uploading data into a cloud environment can be an easy and seamless process – however, getting data out of the cloud can be provide more roadblocks than many companies imagine. For instance, many cloud providers do not have native data replication abilities. That means increased cost and complexity. Data accessibility is a key component of any optimized cloud strategy.

Planning your migration is tantamount to success. You shouldn’t assume you know what cloud applications are in your environment. Users are prone to circumvent IT department’s policies and set up applications they want to use, regardless of the risk involved. With Accudata’s SaaS audit, you can uncover all cloud services in your network – bringing your users’ shadow IT into the light.

Price your cloud – don’t let the cloud price you

Once you know what applications are in your environment, Accudata’s Cloud Readiness Assessment provides you the information to maximize your spend. Our assessment identifies your current assets and performance levels, which lets you establish a baseline. From there, you can intelligently price and scope out different providers.

Pricing your cloud vendor is one of the most important parts of a cloud migration, so why would you leave that to the vendor’s cloud pricing tool? When negotiating for a new car, would you leave it at the dealership’s discretion to provide the right price? Cloud providers price their services like a t-shirt. If you’re a small, don’t pay for a large – and vice versa.

Use a real-world approach when deciding how to price your cloud solution. Don’t make assumptions. By analyzing your workloads and your current performance, Accudata can save you up to 60% when selecting a cloud provider with our Cloud Readiness Assessment.

Find the cloud that fits

Once you have your pricing model and your data classified, you need to make a choice – do you want a private cloud, a public cloud, or a hybrid cloud? For most environments, Accudata finds a hybrid cloud provides the right balance between agility and control. You can leverage parts of the public cloud for flexibility, while retaining your company’s assets in your own data center.

But that doesn’t mean it’s always the best idea. Some companies need the scalability of a cloud solution with the security of a fully-managed environment. In those situations, a private cloud makes the most sense. Or, you could use the full power of a public cloud and only use it for encrypted business data. That could mean migrating your email solution to Office 365, or using a company like ADP for your payroll and benefits.

There are dozens of different ways companies can utilize the cloud. For more information on cloud environments, please see our article Hybrid Cloud: the Data Center Strategy of the Future.

With great power comes great responsibility

Once you’ve classified your data, evaluated the investment costs, and determined your cloud model, it’s time to ensure your cloud remains a protected asset – not a liability. Cloud security has more moving parts than enterprise security. You need to ensure your data is safe in transit and at rest. Part of that comes with your application rulesets – make sure your most critical data never leaves your environment. Encryption is vital, because using the cloud means using someone else’s computer. Encrypting your data in transit and at rest means that even if there is a cloud breach, your critical data is secure.

Your users are another point of weakness.  Many cloud applications don’t have mature security controls. That’s where a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) comes in. With a CASB, you can implement two-factor authentication for each cloud application in your environment. A CASB sits between your environment and the cloud. It lets your users authenticate with their credentials, then allows secure access to your cloud application. There’s no passwords or user names to steal – the CASB handles authentication, not the website. Coupling encryption with secure application access provides a strong starting layer to build upon.

No matter the solution, Accudata’s SaaS and Cloud Readiness assessments can help you design a cloud environment that fits your needs. For more information, email Accudata, contact your Accudata account manager, or call 800-246-4908.