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Top Tips for an Effective Cloud Migration

June 11, 2014 No Comments

By Sarah Lahav, CEO of SysAid

The march to the cloud is inevitable, but migrating is a piecemeal process for most businesses. For organizations built on in-house IT solutions, making too many changes too quickly can introduce unknown risks and frustrate end users who need to learn new software. The transition to the cloud therefore calls for a strategy.  

From mapping the company’s current IT environment to physically making the transition, IT has a responsibility to make the process work and track the results. IT departments often suffer from a ‘PR’ problem where end users note when IT messes up or comes to the rescue, but they miss all the work that goes into implementing cloud-based CRM, cloud-based document storage and other solutions that satisfy end users. Executives can also miss how much IT saved in licensing fees, infrastructural costs and work-hours by implementing cloud solutions. Thus, cloud implementations are an opportunity for IT to shine.

Given these considerations, I suggest six steps that IT should take when migrating software to the cloud:

1.       Where Are You Now?

Map your entire environment. Who are your users, what licensing fees do you pay so they can work, and what are the maintenance or R&D costs of maintaining your current system? On top of that, you need to identify current integrations, review your service level agreements (SLAs) and identify what risks you currently bare. These pieces will all factor into what services you move to the cloud as well as the nuts and bolts of actually migrating.

2.       What Should Go?

Technically, nothing has to stay local. Everything from payment processing and accounting to cybersecurity and data backups can now go to the cloud. The question is this: could you make life better for your colleagues by moving some of their applications to the cloud? Would they be more productive, and would your organization save money? With systems that handle sensitive information, can you achieve an equal or higher standard of security in the cloud? Almost without exception, you will save on infrastructure, management time, maintenance and upgrades, and you’ll share the burden of monitoring these applications with your provider. So line up your cloud candidates – perhaps CRM, document storage and email to start – then commit to putting them in the cloud. Make sure you involve potential users in this process so they don’t feel like you’re making decisions without their input.

3.       Which Cloud Provider?

Vet potential cloud providers based on their track record, guarantees (can you cancel service and get refunded if you’re dissatisfied?), data security standards, backup policies and scalability. If your service is going to be used by employees around the world, make sure your cloud provider can provide performance in all locations.

4.       Make a Detailed Plan        

In your plan, settle on answers to these questions:

1. When will it happen?

2. What is required?

3. How long will it take?

4. Who will be involved in testing?

5. For how long do we monitor the new environment after the migration?

Most companies underestimate how long it will take to move the data. Recently, my company SysAid, moved from Microsoft to Google for email and document storage. We thought it would take 24 hours – Friday to Saturday – but it took closer to 48 hours. This obviously wasn’t serious, but in a much larger organization this would probably have spilled into the working week and potentially caused multimillion dollar revenue losses.

5.       Train People

Try to get experienced users involved in training their colleagues. For example, if you’re deploying Salesforce, there’s a good chance you have an employee who has used it in a previous job. Enlist such people because they will have good tips for you and they can teach their co-workers skills that apply to their specific role or department. Put some extra effort into making sure management and executives have a good experience with the new system.

6.       Did You Get What You Wanted?

When we switched from Microsoft to Google, our goal was to eliminate licensing fees, pay per user so our pricing would reflect our actual size, and cut costs on disk space and servers. We also wanted our employees to have access to email from anywhere, including their mobile devices. This was too difficult to configure with Microsoft. In the months following this migration, we examined each of these points to make sure we succeeded where we had hoped.

Your first cloud migration needs to go well because it will affect how receptive people are to future migrations. Part of the motivation for examining what did work is building a case that you can present to your company in the future. Study how the migration affected efficiency, cost-savings, user satisfaction and other factors. Knock the migration out of the park, and make sure your company knows how well you did.

Sarah Lahave Headshot

As the company’s 1st employee, Sarah Lahav has remained the vital link between SysAid Technologies and its customers since 2003. She is the current CEO and former VP of Customer Relations at SysAid – two positions that have fueled her passion for customer service.


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