The overnight transition to remote working has been a lesson in needing infrastructure that’s flexible, scalable and reliable. And successful deployments go beyond just a migration: they require a cohesive, phased strategy, leadership and bullet-proof security.

Right now, we’re seeing businesses looking to catch up on their cloud strategies. There’s some simple steps to avoid when you’re leading a successful cloud migration – from failing to put a cloud-first culture in place through to data protection strategies. We’ll unpack these for you here, to ensure your deployment’s a success.

Migrating to the cloud without a business goal

This sounds obvious – we get so many enquiries about migrating to the cloud because companies “think they should.” Bringing the cloud into your enterprise infrastructure has to have a well-defined business purpose as does transitioning your data: what do you want from your cloud migration?

Get clear on organisational pain points so you know how cloud becomes part of this strategy. Are you looking to shift your remote working policies over the long term? Are you looking at prioritising agility within the business? Is this about taking costs out of a legacy server? Each of these require different strategies to deliver a successful deployment. Being clear from the outset is essential.

Not creating a cloud-first culture

Transitioning to the cloud is as much about a cultural shift as a technical one. It will ultimately change the way your business works, beyond IT, to operations, finance, HR and of course, communications. Buy-in for this change has to come from the top, working closely with your IT leads to map out the business impact as you move over to the cloud – whether you’re looking at a hybrid or complete solution. It requires future-focused leadership.

We always recommend understanding the component parts of drivers, the risks as well as the changes cloud platforms enable. Listen to your IT teams as they create a communications plan to ensure the business understands and leverages new cloud capabilities and applications to get the most out of your cloud investment.

Planning for a single cloud migration 

Once an organisation has committed to transitioning to the cloud, they want to do everything at once. Don’t.

Many businesses have a hybrid model to ease the transition, from a business and tech perspective and we always recommend phasing your cloud deployment. By migrating specific bits of data in stages, you can ensure your enterprise becomes familiar with your provider’s cloud solutions as you go. We recommend migrating non-essential or test data first. You can then progress to business-critical and sensitive data, minimising any risk.

Now’s a good time to review what applications need to be migrated against those you can replace. Essential software can be transitioned but if there’s a creaky old custom-built CRM system on your server, you may want to have a rethink, potentially configuring new software ahead of the infrastructure’s full deployment and testing, using interim resources to allow this.

A road map is key to every successful deployment. Cloud brings with it new systems and software that affect workflow. This in turn requires team training and communication which you need to factor into the plan. Iterating the change is key.

Neglecting cloud security

Data security needs to be front and centre of your cloud migration strategy.  We’ve seen businesses overlook the need to protect their data throughout their transition as well as those so concerned about sensitive customer data, it delays their cloud migration completely.  Think innovatively and strategically to manage this and review both the data security benefits and disadvantages to navigate the transition.

For instance, when transitioning sensitive data, we’ll look at segregating customer’s servers to ensure compliance with audited infosec. Consider what the implications are of data hosted in private, hybrid or private cloud – work closely with your cloud partner to assess the most seamless option.

Future-proof your strategy

We see this time and time again – a failure to look to the long-term and ensure your solution is future-proofed. The recent COVID-19 crisis is a case in point: businesses that wanted their cloud service on-premise to maintain control, have close oversight and avoid sending their people to other sites, found that the opposite is true. Looking ahead, as we plan for future black swan responses, it’s hard to justify why a flexible, scalable hybrid cloud deployment won’t be part of that. You get the benefits of managed environment, dedicated or shared hosting provider and outsourced support, meaning your business can operate at the level it needs to.

The crisis has been a lesson in staying ahead of the curve when it comes to cloud deployment. Having the option to ramp up capacity has been the difference in being able to run your business – or not. Look for partners who can design solutions that make future-compatibility of infrastructure possible. This will ensure the resilience and stability is in place to drive your business growth over the long- term.

And, planning around these pitfalls will support the security, reliability and performance of your solution, so you don’t have to play catch-up in the future.