With the pandemic exponentially accelerating digital transformation, moving workloads to the cloud has become a key priority for many Australian organizations.
By decoupling business applications and workloads from on-premises hardware and moving to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions such as Microsoft Azure, businesses can better utilize IT resources, scale more flexibly, and gain space for transparent growth. In addition, migration to the cloud is essential to facilitate remote working, improve collaboration, performance and security.
As large enterprises lead the movement towards cloud adoption, with APAC’s public cloud services market grows 28.8% in 2021, SMEs are also starting to take an interest in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure. Azure in particular seems like a natural fit for small organizations that already rely heavily on Microsoft solutions. This choice also has financial advantages: Organizations that already use on-premises Windows Server and SQL Server licenses can use these licenses in the Azure cloud at no additional cost.
So, for many SMBs, Azure seems to be the default option – whether they move their entire workload to the cloud as is or take a hybrid approach that consolidates certain workloads to software applications. -as-a-Service (SaaS) such as Office365 before moving the rest of their infrastructure to the cloud.
Migration factors and challenges
While the pandemic initially halted many large infrastructure projects, the demand for cloud migration support in Australia is now growing rapidly. Indeed, according to Datto report on the state of the MSP 2021, 77% of Australian MSPs now have at least half of their customers in the public cloud, the highest rate in the world.
This change is driven by several factors, including improved scalability, remote workforce support, and controllable costs.
However, moving data and workloads to the cloud can be daunting. Technology overload is real for SMBs with little or no in-house IT expertise, while cloud contracts and cost models can be complex and difficult to understand.
Many SMBs are also bewildered by the endless reports of ransomware and other cyber attacks – and wonder if the cloud is secure. Keeping all applications and data in the local server room can seem a lot safer, so moving to the cloud inevitably raises several questions about data protection.
The truth is, migration to the cloud, if done correctly, actually improves an organization’s data security. Cloud providers and third-party vendors have developed sophisticated security solutions and are constantly improving them to mitigate the latest threats. By using these tools and services, and with the support of an experienced IT partner, SMBs can implement a more comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.
Here are some tips for businesses looking to migrate to the cloud:
Call in an expert
First and foremost, do not approach this transition alone. Moving your infrastructure is a complex task, so find a trusted Managed Service Provider (MSP) with a proven track record in cloud migrations. They can help you decide when to migrate, what parts of your infrastructure to migrate to the cloud, and how to do it smoothly. 99% of ANZ MSPs also provide managed security services to ensure your data is protected from threats. When selecting your partner, also consider the pricing of their services. Is pricing transparent and predictable? Could there be fluctuations in your monthly costs?
Work with your MSP to create a 3 to 5 year strategic IT plan. This should be informed by your current and future IT needs, in line with your business expansion plans, and include an overall timeline for strategy and investments. Determine which parts of your business could run more efficiently in the cloud, then take a look at each application individually and decide when to modernize it.
Be prepared with change management
Moving your infrastructure to the cloud can create short-term challenges for end users. Communication, training and managing your team’s expectations are therefore crucial. Plan your communication carefully, understand how the user experience will change, and think about the training your staff will need to work effectively within your new infrastructure. Your MSP should be able to help you navigate this process by providing training and user documentation. It’s also a good time to review security basics and update your employee’s security awareness training.
Implement strict data protection measures
Work with your MSP to implement a strong security strategy. Implementing a holistic business continuity and data recovery (BCDR) solution will protect all your workloads, whether on-premises or in the cloud. This will ensure that all of your data is recoverable in the event of deletion, corruption or ransomware attack.
If done correctly, migrating to the cloud will optimize your infrastructure and open up new opportunities. Plan carefully, find a trusted partner to carry out the project with you, and prepare for success.