5 strategies for small businesses to migrate to cloud

ThinkstockPhotos-181986722 - CLOUD

By Mushtaq Ahmad, CIO & Global Head Cloud & Infrastructure Service Transformation at CSS Corp

 
We might not realize or even feel the need to know – but we are using the cloud almost on a daily basis – while updating our LinkedIn or Facebook status, sending a tweet, and also while checkingour bank balance on phone. Businesses today utilize cloud computing for performing various tasks such as sending mails, scheduling meetings, collaborating with global teams and using cloud based apps to manage and track progress. Cloud is widely adopted and mature now as we are in the second decade of the cloud wave.

Enterprises have recognized cloud as a critical enabler of business transformation and innovation. Cloud makes a compelling technical and commercial business case. It seeks to replace the CAPEX component of the IT infrastructure with a ‘pay-as-you-go’ or OPEX model.

Cloud services enable enterprises to revolutionize the migration and management of IT infrastructure and applications. Popular cloud services like SaaS, PaaS and IaaS has shown significant growth in the adoption rate as more services are being offered “As a Service” via internet. Cloud services help companies reorient their technology vision from managing IT to creating an IT landscape which is an enabler for their businesses. In this context, cloud migration has gained tremendous ground in being a key enabler in transforming businesses that help forge new partnerships, improve customer engagement, and simplify business processes. With the multitude of cloud migration services available, it has thus become important for businesses to identify a migration partner that would fit seamlessly in their scheme of things. There are various factors to be considered while migrating to the cloud such as the best-suited deployment option, the right service model, and the type of workload to be moved. Thus, while there is a tremendous opportunity for businesses to evolve and improve services while optimizing efficiencies by utilizing the benefits of a robust cloud implementation, it is important to have the right strategy.

Small Businesses that have used the right cloud assessment and migration services have been able to enjoy benefits of reduced time for migration to cloud from 40% to 50%.

Research from the Boston Consulting Group has shown that SMEs adopting cloud-based technology were rewarded with 15% faster revenue growth than those that didn’t. That said, per a Microsoft report, while 86% of small businesses understand its importance, 70% are still not using cloud solutions. This means, while small businesses understand the value of cloud computing, they are not sure how to adopt cloud on business processes.

5 strategies for migrating to the cloud

Here are a few strategies to maximize benefits of migration to the cloud:

Understand the technology stack 
Today, cloud providers utilize multiple technologies such as Infrastructure, Platform and Software as a Service (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, respectively) to offer customized and robust solutions. Usually, the first thought that most IT teams have as they begin their migration journey is to migrate existing virtualized workloads to cloud-based VMs. This forms part of Infrastructure as a Service or IaaS for short. They miss the fact that it might actually be far less complicated, easier and efficient(to move common workloads such as web services and databases to a Platform as a Service provider. Even for applications, implementing a SaaS approach helps simplify the process of managing applications. It is advisable to use lower-level technologies wherever you must and higher-level offerings wherever you can.

Prioritize your projects
Organizations must first identify low hanging fruits and low-risk, high-reward areas for initial deployments. Only after these initial implementations show desired results, should they think of shifting to a public cloud provider? A few early candidates that may be tested for cloud deployments are applications with lesser dependencies, the development and testing environments, and more, depending on the organization.

Implement industrialized processes and methodologies
A big temptation for cloud-based service offerings is the accessibility to a few high-end features and self-managed infrastructure that may be costly for small businesses. IT businesses today must keep UX at the top of their mind when setting up IT processes and policies. Instead of simply dumping (“off-loading”) applications to the cloud, IT professionals must use cloud services to focus on higher-value technology projects. This also helps maintain focus on critical functions such as integrating applications, managing security, and proactive, 360 degree monitoring of applications.

Utilize and expand your current data center
To realize cloud benefits, it’s not really necessary to replace the entire data center infrastructure. Cloud service providers can use cloud offerings to extend on-premise infrastructure. Spreading applications between local and cloud services helps them to communicate to each other with minimal reconfiguration.

Perform some housekeeping 
Established organizations, with their need to take shortcuts and quick decisions over the years usually end up with a lot of “technical debt”. Business requirements are changing too frequently forcing IT departments to keep pace, which thereby leads to less-than-optimal solutions. This results in proliferation of applications, services, servers, and infrastructure that causes big maintenance overheads. Instead of migrating the existing solutions, it might be better for some organizations to move to cloud-based services to re-structure important services.

Conclusion

Cloud has gone mainstream. Across industries, organizations are delivering services from the cloud to discover new efficiencies, new revenue streams and new sources of competitive differentiation. Cloud is increasingly changing the way business is done. Enterprises are consuming a variety of cloud deployment and consumption models. When it comes to migrating to the cloud, there is no single, one-size fits-all strategy. Moving to and working from the cloud requires precise migration planning, continuous risk mitigation and cost optimization. Enterprises must wisely choose a strategic technology partner who will accelerate their journey to the cloud and augment new business opportunities.