At a basic level, the term “cloud migration” is self-explanatory. It is the process of migrating to the cloud in one way or another. Of course, there is a lot more to it than that, and we will cover as much as we can today. Not only will we explain what cloud migration is, but we will also try to answer any questions you may have. These include fundamental questions like, “why move to the cloud?” and “when should I move to the cloud?” By the time we are done, you should be well-informed about cloud migration.
A Basic Definition
Cloud migration is usually defined as the act of moving one’s services and/or data to the cloud. This might be as simple as the transfer of information from a database to a cloud server. It might also be as complicated as moving an entire service network from locally-hosted servers to a cloud.
In some cases, people find that they don’t like the cloud. Thus, they end up doing what is called “reverse cloud migration,” i.e., moving away from the cloud. Or, in some cases, they may simply be unhappy with their current cloud provider. That’s when they perform a “cloud-to-cloud” migration. To be honest, most cloud problems can be traced back to a problem with the cloud provider themselves.
Why Move To The Cloud?
Moving to the cloud is one of those things that people do for a wide variety of reasons. There are many potential benefits to the use of the cloud, even though there are also some potential pitfalls. The main benefit of the cloud is a greater degree of “interconnectedness.” Just as the invention of the internet made it easier for people to connect with one another, the invention of the cloud has made it even easier.
Whenever you, your employees, or your customers want to access services or data, the cloud is at their disposal. While specific servers can easily go down, cloud networks are usually spread out a little more. With more servers and a larger network, they can avoid being overwhelmed with requests (which causes websites to crash). Access to a cloud network can normally be done with any internet-connected device and requires nothing more than your login credentials.
There are also some inherent security advantages that can come from the cloud. Many people will insist that the cloud is not so secure, but it’s all about how you utilize its resources. For instance, it wouldn’t be a good idea to put highly sensitive data in a public cloud. If we are talking about something that is top-level sensitive, even a private cloud network might be too much. Things like that should be stored on machines that cannot access the internet.
That being said, a cloud network can actually be more difficult to attack. Cloud providers are generally conscious of the threats posed by hackers, and they tend to have pretty good security. At the very least, any good cloud provider should have security that is far superior to that of the average network. If not, you might need to get your services elsewhere.
Finally, there is the versatility that comes from the use of the cloud. Virtually anything that can be done online might be bundled with your cloud plan as one of many services. There are many different services that might come with the cloud, such as data storage, DDOS mitigation, access to special software, or payment provider options. The cloud can be used in so many ways that nearly any internet site or service can potentially migrate there.
Cloud Migration Strategies
If you are thinking about moving to the cloud, it is important that you think ahead and plan before acting. Diving into anything without thought is a good way to end up in a bind. The first thing you need to do is assess your reasons for making the move. Ask yourself what it is that you and your organization hope to gain by migrating to the cloud. Those goals should be the main things that drive your planning.
You also need to think about how big a cloud network you really need. Most providers offer scaled plans that allow you to purchase only the space that you need. In order to figure out your needs, simply look at the size of your current network. If space hasn’t been a problem so far, then you probably won’t need a larger network than you presently have.
You will also need to determine if you want a public cloud, a private cloud, or some kind of hybrid option. A public cloud can be accessed by anyone who has login credentials, while a private cloud is limited to one particular group. Private clouds can be hosted on-site or by a third-party company. In a public cloud, you will probably be sharing space with other customers even though your data and settings will remain separate. Even if they can’t access your part of the network, everyone is sharing the same set of computing resources.
Public clouds have the advantage of being cheap and it’s usually quite easy to get started. You don’t need any special hardware or software as private clouds often do. Private clouds obviously offer far better security, as that is their entire purpose.
Finally, you will need to consider all of your data. It would help to categorize this data based on subject, level of security needed, usefulness, and age. You will need to think about what needs to be moved and what can stay on-site. For instance, deep-storage data that is only kept for research or tax documentation purposes. Most companies store a lot of documents that are not crucial for day-to-day operations. Those are the kinds of documents that don’t even need to go in the cloud.
Troubleshooting Your Cloud Migration Plan
You could run into trouble when you start moving large databases full of information. Doing a huge file transfer over the internet is possible, but there are several problems. First of all, there is always the chance that minor internet problems could cause packet loss. The result of packet loss is incomplete files.
All internet data consists of small “packets.” It is the constant exchange of these packets that make the internet possible. However, when there is a connection problem, a few of them can be lost in transition. To avoid this, you can put the data on physical media (like an external hard drive) and take it to your cloud provider’s premises to be uploaded there. This will eliminate the danger of packet loss. Either way, though, make sure you have a good backup before dropping off that hard drive!
From a security perspective, you need to make sure that you network and devices are completely clean of malware. Otherwise, that tainted data could be transferred to the cloud network. The only sure way to “purify” a device is by wiping its drive and overwriting all the data, but it probably won’t be realistic for you to do that with every single connected device. However, you can definitely take steps to ensure your files are not contaminated. These might include:
- Scanning all relevant drives with antivirus software
- Examining the meta-data on certain files (like the EXIF data on image files, for instance)
- Deleting anything that isn’t needed
- Monitoring your network with Nmap or Wireshark to determine if any remote connections are being made
- Making sure all devices are properly updated with the latest security patches
Finally, you will also need to consider any downtime that may result from your cloud migration plan. Larger companies stand to lose a lot of money if they go offline for an extended time, so do bear that in mind. Every day that your network is down represents lost profit, so you want to minimize that delay in every way that you can.
When Is The Best Time To Migrate To The Cloud?
Obviously, this answer will not be the same for everyone. Only you can fully decide when it is the right time to move to the cloud. However, one thing that’s definitely for sure is this: If your current web services are suffering from a lack of reliability, it’s probably a good time to move to the cloud. In the bigger picture, anyone whose needs are not being met by their current IT setup would do well to consider cloud migration.
One good thing about cloud migration is the fact that you get access to a lot of experienced people who can give you a lot of good tech advice. In many cases, it’s almost like having a second IT team on hand. If nothing else, it gives you a way to double-check the assessments of your in-house IT team.
If you are finding that your network needs are growing too fast, it is definitely a good time to move to the cloud. As companies grow, they often find that they cannot continue scaling up their servers and other equipment without spending too much money.
There’s only so much money you can put into IT before it becomes a liability, and cloud services can be a great way to limit that liability. They allow you to pay for only that which you use, and larger plans tend to be fairly reasonable. For this reason, most growing companies can save some money by migrating to the cloud.
Understanding Cloud Services
It would be impossible for us to list all the different cloud services that might be available. However, you will find that most of them fall into one of three categories:
- SAAS: Software As A Service
- IAAS: Infrastructure As A Service
- PAAS: Platform As A Service
Microsoft 365 would be a good example of SAAS, as that specific software is tied to some very specific functions. In general, SAAS does not require that you install anything on your machine. The use of server space or processing power (i.e., virtual memory) would fall under the category of IAAS. And, of course, PAAS services are those which merely provide a platform for interaction with others. Needless to say, there is some crossover between the three.
In all these cases, the services are named after that which is provided: Access to specific programs, the use of network infrastructure, or the use of a communication platform. There are also some services that are intended to make your cloud transition a lot easier, so you should definitely look into those.
Migrating to the cloud doesn’t have to be a headache. Here at PCH Technologies, we offer the best cloud migration services on the web. If you are finding that all of this is a little bit too complicated for you, there is plenty of help to be found. Simply call (856) 754-7500 if you would like to learn more.