Steps to migrating your IT department to the cloud for small businesses

  1. Take inventory of your current digital assets. This includes a list of applications you are using and potentially applications that will no longer be needed once you are in the cloud. Be sure to consider if there are any dependencies between applications.
  2. Determine what are the business goals for the migration. These goals could include any or all of the following: availability, reduction of on premises costs such as equipment, staff or space leases, determining what are the training and maintenance costs of migrating to the cloud, scalability resulting from the elasticity of the cloud during seasonal peaks and valleys of traffic, reliability, which is becoming increasingly an advantage of using cloud services, and access speed which can be in fact improved with the use of content delivery networks (CDNs), data hosting and processing.
  3. Choose the cloud provider who bests suits your specific business needs. At the time of writing, the cloud market is dominated by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. You’ll need to compare costs and features once you have determined your business goals.
  4. Choose a cloud model such as public, private or hybrid cloud. This means that you need to decide if you want to keep some of your IT on premises or rely more heavily on the cloud. Each cloud provider offers a cost estimator tool to help you easily run the numbers before signing up.
  5. Select a cloud automation tool such as the AWS Server Migration Service or Azure Migrate.
    As a rule of thumb, it is free to migrate data to the cloud, and it costs to store it use it, or move it from the cloud.
  6. Select a migration strategy. Possible strategies include:
    • Rehost This means replicating your servers on the cloud in the form of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
    • Refactor existing applications to take better advantage of cloud capabilities, repurchase by moving to Software as a Service (Saas) offerings.
    • Retire applications that are no longer relevant in a cloud settings
    • Retain applications that you have determined are better suited for keeping on the premises.
  7. Plan for system backups. This might mean investigating the available support plans from the cloud provider. Usually speed of support equates to higher costs. You might not need to access the cloud support service if you have planned carefully the access levels of your staff. These access levels are easily assigned with the use of cloud Information and Access Management tools, however they require some upfront though and planning. As a general rule, you only give access when needed, rather than assigning default access to groups.
  8. Identify critical servers and data that should not be deleted during the migration.
  9. Enable automated backups. This is easily accomplished in most cloud settings.
  10. Test early and often. It is a good practice to setup a test environment to make sure that the migration is going according to expectation.
  11. After all the planning you have conducted, you are ready to migrate your data to the cloud!

Use these steps to create a checklist and customize it for your particular IT needs.

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