What's harder than migrating to the cloud? For many small businesses, it's deciding what goes into the cloud and what stays in-house. Considering the amount of data small businesses store and all the security and compliance issues involved in moving it around, prioritizing data sets is a challenge for any small organization.
Jitscale, a managed cloud infrastructure provider, recently released the Cloud Migration Guide, a whitepaper offering small and medium enterprises (SMEs) advice when deciding whether or not to ship core IT department functions to the cloud.
“Growing SMEs may realize they need to get on board with cloud computing, but they often have questions about the cloud and how they can benefit from using it,” said Eelco van Beek, chief executive officer at Jitscale, in a press release. “And since an organization’s application portfolio might contain tens, hundreds or even thousands of different applications, choosing a strategy for moving these into the cloud can be daunting."
To help identify which applications and types of data should be deployed to the cloud and which should stay in-house, Jitscale compiled seven key questions SMEs need to ask themselves:
1. Does your organization classify data into categories, such as "confidential" or "secret," and do these classifications prohibit the data to be placed on a shared or outsourced infrastructure?
If something is classified as confidential or secret, it needs to comply with your company's policies regarding such classifications. For example, if your security policy prohibits confidential information from leaving its current home, it shouldn't be migrated to the cloud until you get the green light.
2. Are there any regulatory or contractual obligations to store data in a specific jurisdiction?
Individual states and countries have different laws governing how data is stored, according to the report. This is especially important for data sets containing sensitive information or otherwise raise privacy concerns. Make sure you know where your data centers are located and what those states' or countries' regulations are regarding data storage. (As an example, the report revealed that storing your data in a cloud with data centers in the United States may make it possible for the U.S. government to look at your information through the Patriot Act).
3. Do any applications depend on other applications or require specialized hardware to function?
Some applications require other applications or specialized hardware in order to work. For those that do, make sure that the applications and hardware they depend on either come with them to the cloud or that they can still function if separated from the cloud. According to the report, applications that require specific CPUs or specialized encryption are not readily available for cloud migration.
4. Do applications use any underutilized assets, e.g., hardware that has a lot of unused capacity?
For instance, if an application takes up only a small fraction of an in-house server's space, migrating that application to the cloud will free up the server for other purposes — it can even save you money by eliminating operating costs if you find you don't actually need it anymore.
5. Are there any restrictive licenses for software used in your applications prohibiting them from running in the cloud?
Not all vendors are ready or willing to have their software deployed to the cloud. Before you migrate applications to the cloud, review your licenses and check with your vendors first to see if they offer cloud support for their applications. If not, those applications will likely have to stay in-house. The report pointed out, however, that this also gives you a chance to try other vendors that have a broader range of support for emerging technologies.
6. Do any applications have an immediate business need to scale and are running out of capacity?
Applications that require more capacity or flexibility are cloud- ready, the report said. These are applications that have massive peak usage times or need expanded capacities when the workload has increased. Such applications require higher scalability to accommodate utilization, making the cloud an ideal environment.
7. Are there any applications that need to be rolled out on a global scale?
Applications that have a global reach need to be geographically close to their intended audience in order to deliver the best user experience. An example of this are marketing and advertising applications, such as websites and mobile apps. Constructing geographically dispersed infrastructures for those applications is a costly endeavor. Instead, migrating those applications to cloud systems already located in those geographical regions is a cost-effective alternative.