How to Successfully Onboard Your Business to the Cloud

Innovative Architects Cloud Computing Article

Although cloud computing is hardly a new concept, many businesses are just now beginning to adopt cloud capabilities into their business strategy.

Rapidly changing cloud technology means that migrating to the cloud continues to prove difficult for many organizations. Unfortunately, successful cloud onboarding isn’t possible with just the touch of a button. So what pitfalls should you avoid? What’s the first step in onboarding your business to the cloud? How do you ensure the smoothest possible transition for your business?

When migrating your business to the cloud, you’ll need to plan for three main phases: assessmenttransition plan and cutover, and performance analysis.

Following these three phases in order will provide you with the smoothest onboarding process.

Phase 1: Assessment

cloud computing; assessment phase

Throughout the assessment phase, you should be analyzing both the business and technology sides of your cloud onboarding needs. During this assessment, flesh out the entirety of the project while discussing any complex aspects and/or nuances you might run into. You can also get an idea of what your current tech situation looks like. Team members who may have valuable input at this stage include those in sales, individuals from the finance and operations departments, and those who are in executive management positions.

Upon completion of the assessment, you’ll have a better picture of what cloud implementation means for your business in terms of technical, economic, business and application potential.

  • Technical analysis. This analysis will show you what infrastructure and applications are already in place. In addition, it will highlight any potential issues with scalability and architecture. A technical analysis also shows you critical interfaces you need to address before deciding on the best path for migrating your information to the cloud.
  • Business analysis. Before making the decision to transition to cloud computing, you must analyze whether it is a sound business move. Consider developing ROI and TCO models, since either will show the budgetary benefits of doing away with a large portion of regular hardware purchases and reducing the need for on-site IT assistance.
  • Business and app analysis. This level of analysis will show whether you’ll need to re-engineer certain aspects of your business to leverage within the cloud and if the applications you’re already using meet certain criteria (including PCI, SOX and HIPAA).

Phase 2: Transition Plan & Cutover

cloud computing; transition plan & cutover

If you choose to proceed after the initial assessment, the next step is to develop a transition plan to perform the actual onboarding. The transition plan includes all of the information required for cutover, onboarding and steady state management.

Having this plan can allow you to make contingency plans for potential problems in the future and thoroughly lay out how your information will be transferred to the cloud. If it helps, think of a transition plan as a blueprint you can follow in order to accomplish the precise steps that will be performed, how the project should be delivered, and the solution key to any problems that could pop up.

Your transition plan should include:

  • Definitions
  • Risk assessment
  • Architecture design
  • Integration steps
  • Implementation phases
  • Operational processes
  • Escalation procedures
  • Service Level Agreements (SLA) options
  • Security and compliance considerations
  • Reporting/analysis
  • Employee training
  • Completion deadline

Creating a detail transition plan is vital to the overall synchronization of onboarding. With a strategy in place, many of the problems that may arise during the onboarding process can be fixed quickly without a major impact to the migration or the cutover.

After your plan is complete, begin the migration. By the time the transition phase is complete, around 98% of your entire project will be complete.

Phase 3: Performance Analysis

cloud computing strategy; performance analysis

The cost of running your business through the cloud is dependent on the computing resources that you use. Since you don't want to pay for services you don't need or misuse company resources, you'll want to make sure your cloud apps are being used efficiently. For this reason, it is recommended that you perform periodic tuning and testing of your cloud platform.

You should have a delivery manager (and team) prepare reports – ideally on a weekly basis - that show the trends of your business's operations and note any incidents. Upon review of the report, adjustments can be made to make your cloud system work better for you. Moreover, these reports can show you any problem trends (i.e. that a particular app goes down every week on the same day) and you can work towards a solution.

At the end of every month, you should also go through the various weekly reports and make note of problems and trends you find, as well as any positive aspects. From this data, you can further optimize your cloud by usage (daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, etc.), giving you a better picture of how to tweak your cloud to get better results and minimize costs.

Each quarter, you should have teams meet to review the information your weekly and monthly reports reveal and also brainstorm to anticipate what will happen in the next quarter. At this time, you and your team can devise any changes that need to be made to ensure your cloud software (and all of its applications) function efficiently.

Consult a Cloud Expert

At Innovative Architects, we work closely with businesses to determine if a cloud computing solution truly is the right move based on their individual needs and goals, and then help them implement it in an easy, seamless way.

To request more information about how our Microsoft cloud computing services lt: cloud computing solutions can be put to work for your business, or to ask about any technology issues you are facing, contact us by phone or email (whichever you prefer). In addition to our website, more information about cloud computing can be found by visiting our blog and knowledge center.