Companies in pursuit of more cost-effective and secure computing resources are increasingly opting for cloud storage solutions because of their enhanced security and reliability. What’s more, the normalization of remote work necessitates robust IT systems that enable employees to securely access company data from anywhere. By 2022, Gartner predicts that 75% of all databases will be in the cloud. A 2020 survey found that 41% of enterprise workloads would be run on public cloud platforms by the end of the year, with another 22% using a hybrid option (a mix of on-premise servers and cloud storage platforms). Why all the fuss? Migrating to the cloud gives you access to virtually limitless computing resources, including servers, storage, databases, analytics, and intelligence. If you deal with large volumes of data and use a variety of software applications, cloud computing might be for you. According to researcher IDC, spending on cloud infrastructure across dedicated and shared environments increased 6.6% year on year to $18.6 billion in Q3 2021. What is the difference between cloud storage and on-premise servers? While on-premise servers constitute onsite hardware that is controlled, administered, and maintained by your company’s in-house IT team, cloud storage outsources the task of server administration to the cloud service provider. This eliminates the costs of procuring and updating hardware and employing a dedicated IT professional to oversee the server. The cloud provider installs and maintains all hardware, software, and other supporting infrastructure in its data centers. Cloud platforms run on a pay-as-you-go business model. Users pay a subscription fee to the cloud service provider that is commensurate with the amount of storage needed and/or cloud services used. Need to add users or increase your storage capacity? Simply upgrade your plan in a few clicks. Cloud platforms also provide access to advanced computing resources, such as dynamic loading (used to achieve better service provisioning), auto-scaling (automatically scale cloud services up or down based on defined situations), and serverless computing capabilities. Some organizations opt for hybrid cloud solutions— using different types of IT deployment models including on-premise servers, private cloud, or public cloud. What types of applications should be migrated to the cloud? Before you scramble to migrate all your data to the cloud pronto, take note that not all processes benefit from migrating to the cloud. For example, legacy on-premise applications may be difficult to migrate, and botched migrations can prove costly. Legacy software has special attributes that may require application rearchitecting (breaking down applications and rebuilding them in a more modern, scalable design). However, businesses that run legacy software are at increased risk of data breaches. What’s more, these systems are often not as efficient or easily integrated with other software applications. They may no longer be supported by the original vendor, meaning the vendor is no longer issuing bug fixes or security patches. Aging servers can also slow down a company’s business processes. Cloud storage vs. on-premise servers: Pros and cons Cloud storage Best for companies that are growing quickly, and those that have a distributed workforce and global operations. Pros Cons Less capital investment and lower maintenance costs: Companies only pay for the cloud services they use, and there is no need to install any hardware. Less labor-intensive: There is no need for dedicated IT support staff to maintain cloud storage as server maintenance and software upgrades are outsourced to the cloud service provider. Easy file sharing and collaboration: Distributed teams can collaborate and share data easily. Multiple users can collaborate on one common file. Enables remote work: Cloud storage enables employees to access data from any device with an internet connection. Data is synchronized across all devices. Easy to scale: If your current storage plan is not enough, simply purchase a higher-tier subscription. Reduced risk of permanent data loss: All data is backed up and stored across thousands of data centers, so even in the event of a disaster, the data should remain intact. The costs add up quickly: Cloud service providers charge according to usage, storage capacity, or a combination of factors. Costs can balloon unexpectedly for companies experiencing rapid growth. There may be additional costs for uploading and downloading files from the cloud. Internet dependency: You cannot access files without an internet connection. Slow internet speeds can hamper access. Requires additional security measures: Some cloud storage vendors lack adequate data security. You must take additional steps to secure your data in the cloud. Less privacy: Your data is managed by a third party and is visible to the cloud provider. Less customizability: Cloud operators provide limited customization options, whereas on-premise servers can be customized almost limitlessly. Fixed contracts: Beware of entering into fixed contracts that don’t respond to your changing storage needs. It may be best to opt for pay-as-you-go. On-premise servers Best for companies that store sensitive data (eg: patient records or credit card data), large companies that require flexible/customized storage solutions, or those that don’t have access to a high-speed internet connection. Pros Cons Greater privacy: No third party has access to your critical data. On-premise may be the preferred option for companies that handle sensitive data. Access does not require an internet connection: You can access files and applications quickly even if you have a slow or unreliable internet connection. You can also keep your internet costs low since you don’t need to pay for a high-speed connection. Maintain physical control over your servers: Companies can modify or upgrade servers autonomously without having to go through a cloud service provider. May offer greater flexibility and customization for their storage needs. Requires IT support - Servers must be managed and maintained by dedicated staff. In enterprise organizations with massive datasets, this is a full-time job. Increased maintenance costs: Companies must buy hardware, software, and licenses to upgrade or repair servers. Requires significant capital investment: High upfront costs of purchasing servers and hardware, and installation is a time-consuming process. Limited scalability: On-premise servers are difficult to scale quickly in the event that your organization needs more storage. Scaling requires the installation of new hardware, which is expensive and time-consuming. Increased risk of data loss: All data is stored on an internal server, which poses risks unless you have an offsite backup service. Transitioning to the cloud: How does it work? Cloud migration is the process of transferring databases, applications, and IT processes into the cloud. Usually, it’s not a simple plug-and-play process, and requires lots of advance planning. There are various ways to do a cloud migration, from a procedure as simple as a “lift and shift” (migrating your application to the cloud with little or no changes) to a complete application re-architecture. The most complex, time-consuming step during a cloud migration is migrating data— especially when it involves a large amount of data. In most cases, data can be transferred over the internet (simply upload your databases to the cloud service provider’s website), but for massive databases that would take too long to transfer over the internet, some providers offer physical data transfer methods, such as loading data onto a hard drive and then shipping the device to the provider. Before you migrate to the cloud: a checklist 1. Determine how you’d like to migrate your data There are two ways to perform a cloud migration: shallow cloud integration or deep cloud integration. Shallow cloud integration (AKA “lift and shift,” “rehosting,” or the “forklift approach”) entails moving the on-premise application while making limited or no changes to the cloud servers or the application code, except whatever is required to run the application in the new environment. In other words, ite means moving the application as is. Benefits of shallow integration Cost-effective Tends to be a less costly, labor-intensive migration that can be performed relatively quickly. Fewer security problems Does not pose additional security risks, so long as the application is secure, up-to-date, and patched before the migration. An easy way to get started in cloud computing Moving mission-critical IT infrastructure from on-premise servers to the cloud constitutes a major commitment of time and money, although these costs are justified in the long term. A shallow cloud integration is a good starting point for complex cloud integrations in the future. Deep cloud integration involves modifying the application so you can use advanced cloud services. This is usually a necessary step when migrating legacy software to the cloud. You can even opt to upgrade legacy software to a cloud-native framework for better overall performance, efficiency, and scalability—currently one of the biggest trends in the software industry. Benefits of deep cloud integration: Faster deployment You can deploy your apps and services faster and scale them more quickly. Enables edge computing Certain applications that require low latency (no delays) can only be enabled after a deep cloud integration. Facilitates remote work Authorized employees can access applications over the internet from any location. Enables businesses to operate in distributed work environments. 2. Determine which applications to move to the cloud Some of your applications may already be optimized for on-premise servers and don’t need to be migrated to the cloud. You may wish to keep applications that hold sensitive data (eg: medical records or credit card numbers) stored on on-premise servers. Certain industries like finance and healthcare require businesses to use on-premise servers for security reasons. 3. Establish KPIs for cloud migration As with any new technology adoption, organizations should establish KPIs to evaluate the success of a cloud migration. More importantly, KPIs reveal unexpected problems and help you determine when the migration is complete. For each KPI, set a baseline metric so you can compare the pre-migration performance of your application to its post-migration performance. Sample KPIs for cloud migration include: Response time Page load time Error rates CPU usage % Memory usage 4. Set your budget and choose a cloud service provider Before you set a budget and start searching for vendors, make sure you’re clear on your specific business needs. Create a checklist of requirements (technical, security, data governance, service management) and minimum expectations to reference while shopping around. At minimum, choose a provider who can help you optimize your budget, manage your cloud infrastructure, and offer 24/7 support. Most organizations underestimate the actual costs of cloud migration, so do your homework. According to a ‘State of the Cloud 2020’ report by Flexera, “organizations are over budget for cloud spend by an average of 23% and expect cloud spend to increase by 47% next year.” A pay-as-you-go model might work well for an organization that doesn’t have a lot of data and plans on slow but steady growth, but not such a good idea for a large enterprise with reams of data. After you migrate to the cloud... Establish cloud security Shut down and remove any redundant systems, and sever any superfluous network connectivity. Migrations provide the opportunity to review your security measures. While your cloud provider maintains your databases for you, security is a shared responsibility between you and your cloud service provider. Monitor the cloud Your cloud provider will monitor systems for basic health and availability, but you need to do your own monitoring. Monitor virtual machines, operating system resources, and application availability. Monitor system and application performance and ask your employees for feedback so you can make any necessary adjustments. Determine if the migration was successful Keep an eye on the KPIs that were defined as part of the audit you did right before carrying out the migration. It may also help to review the business case that was formed during the project initiation phase. Interested in learning more about our next-generation cloud platform? MicroMain Global offers a user-friendly mobile app and the ability to work from anywhere.

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