How to Migrate Your Small to Medium-Sized Enterprise IT to the Cloud

It has been well over 10 years since the term “cloud computing” was first coined, and vendors now offer a vast range of cloud-based enterprise services. The cloud has put IT capabilities, once the exclusive preserve of big business, into the hands of small to medium-sized enterprises, making them more flexible, scalable, competitive, and profitable. Almost all successful businesses, regardless of size, now use some aspect of cloud-based IT to give them the edge.

The question for small to medium-sized businesses is no longer, “Should we migrate our IT to the cloud?” It’s now, “How do we migrate to the cloud?” The keys to successful and pain-free migration of your business’s IT needs to cloud-based services are to first analyze your enterprise legacy portfolio, to understand the services available, and to strategize for low-risk, low-cost transition.

IT Portfolio Analysis and Migration Strategy

The first phase of a successful migration to the cloud is an analysis of your applications portfolio. That means taking inventory of your IT environment, inter-dependencies, and the expected ease or difficulty of each transition. Armed with the results, you can strategize for a step-wise migration starting with the most straightforward components, such as virtual service architectures, and moving to more complex elements, such as a large-scale mainframe, as your team gain experience and knowledge of cloud systems.

The Advantages of Re-hosting

Re-hosting has several advantages. Not least is that most enterprises will save up to 30% of costs doing things this way. You also can automate it, or if you prefer the learning curve, do it manually as your team transitions from the legacy base and skills-up on the new cloud-based platform. The greatest advantage is the relative ease with which you can optimize and rebuild architecture post-migration. Re-hosting takes a lot of the pain out of migrating your applications, data, and traffic, leaving your team free to do the creative stuff.

The Power of Re-Platforming and Re-Purchasing

If you needn’t alter an application’s core architecture and you want to transition to a more hands-free data management system, using a DaaS (database-as-a-service) platform is straightforward. Re-platforming also gives you an opportunity to move from expensive licensed application containers to one of the many open-source alternatives which can save huge chunks of expenditure. You can reinvest the savings in your resources or boost the bottom line.

When you re-purchase you transition to a new product. In cloud terms, this most likely means migrating to SaaS (software-as-a-service). SaaS lowers overheads and increases efficiency. Customer relationship management (CRM) software, human resources (HR) and your content management system (CMS) are all good candidates for re-purchasing.

Radical Re-Architecting (Re-Factoring)

This proposition, which is more complicated, is the costliest. But if you have a powerful business motive to drive a rebuild or expand application architecture and features using new cloud-native functionality, it’s worth considering. It’s an opportunity for rapid scaling, agility-boosting, and making improvements in continuity if your business model and products are a practical fit.

Reasons to Retire

It’s common during analysis of the legacy infrastructure, environment, and applications, before developing a cloud migration strategy, to discover you’re carrying a lot of dead weight in your enterprise IT portfolio. If you have applications no longer owned or operative in functional areas, you have a strong argument to retire them. An intelligent retirement strategy releases resources, tightens security, and smooths your overall migration.

Rational Relegation

Several factors may make you reluctant to migrate certain applications. You may have deprecation issues still in resolution, have just paid for an upgraded license, or prefer to keep on-premise control for the time being. It’s rational to relegate aspects of your IT portfolio while you process and migrate others. You can revisit them later once you’ve zeroed your priority list and your team can better estimate the pros and cons of migrating your relegated apps and data.

Migrate to the Cloud Step-by-Step

When developing your cloud migration strategy, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Success is most likely when you think in terms of provisional and flexible planning and build feedback-and-change into your processes. You needn’t complete every detail of your analysis before you begin migration. Start with the easiest and most straightforward elements of your enterprise IT portfolio as soon as you’re ready and keep your legacy systems analysis concurrent. Implement new learning as you go, until you’ve migrated everything you want to migrate. Finally, revisit your relegated properties and re-assess them in the light of what you’ve learned.

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