Forrester forecasts that the private cloud market will be worth $26bn by 2022. However, migrating data to the cloud can be daunting, especially for organisations that have legacy systems in place and that have had to overcome cultural reluctance to the change.

A good cloud service provider will support the organisation through the migration process at the pace that suits them. A rushed process will often fail as the provider doesn’t take the time to understand the specific requirements of the business they are working with.

A thorough migration process entails an analysis of the business’s needs before moving into a detailed risk assessment and project scope. Only then does the operational stage begin. The cloud migration process doesn’t need to be complicated – provided the business has the right support in place – but it should not be rushed.

A successful migration process can create the foundation of a strong and agile business, so it’s vital that each stage is managed in a methodical manner, and that the business continues to receive the full support of its provider.

Stage one: Analysis of technical and business needs

The migration process must start with an analysis to determine the possibilities and the purpose of migration. In our experience, this stage should take from one to three months.

During this stage, the provider works with the business to understand the current application market and to determine which applications are critical to the business’s success. The provider must take this time to assess how prepared the business is to make the move to the cloud (or from another service cloud provider).

The provider should perform a technical analysis to ensure that the applications the business wants to transfer are not only cloud-ready but optimised for operating in the cloud. Will the business have the same standard of network security? Does it want to use the migration process as an opportunity to switch to new solutions?

Providers also need to consider business factors. Is the executive team enthusiastic about the change? Is the business ready to change long-established processes? Has the business determined how it will manage its data security? Has it assessed all of the costs?

There will be risks and benefits to moving data to the cloud, or even moving cloud providers, so it’s essential that the business be both fully invested in the success of the migration process, and prepared for the changes that will happen.

Stage two: Risk analysis and migration project scope

Once the provider has established the business’s unique requirements, it should perform a risk analysis and begin the project management process.

What are the main elements that could go wrong during the migration process? What backup plans do the business and provider have in place?

How will the business be able to maintain its services while the migration process takes place?

The execution stage of the migration process can last anywhere up to six months depending on the scale and complexity of the project.

Limited downtime is essential to minimise service disruption for the business’s customers, and there must be a way to safely roll-back changes. At this stage, the business should have a full project plan so that applications are switched over at a time that minimises the impact on the business and its services.

Stage three: Managed service operation

In this final stage, the business should expect its provider to be focusing on maintaining a strong and reliable managed services solution. Support should be available 24/7, and the provider should have an improvement programme in progress to continually simplify the service and improve efficiency.

Businesses need to select a provider that understands the pressures of its industry and has extensive experience in managing migrations across sectors and in different countries. It needs to have a secure and reliable service, but also have one that allows the business to be agile and continue to innovate.

The success of a migration process depends not just on the experience and skill of, and collaboration between, the client and provider, but also on the importance that the provider places on client experience. The support process must be as frictionless as possible for the migration process to succeed.

Businesses continue to migrate their services to the cloud due to the clear benefits that cloud offers. There’s often a cost-reduction in making the switch, and you can’t ignore the scalability and flexibility that cloud services provide. Operating services in the cloud allows businesses the flexibility to keep up with new trends and become innovators in their sector.

However, these benefits are all dependant on a successful cloud migration process. While it’s a complicated and often lengthy process, the cloud service provider should be there to guide the business through each stage of the migration.

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ICT Product Manager with 9 years’ experience in ICT services design and promote. Malgorzata’s roles include worldwide ICT business development, research of best practice and market trends, product training and publishing of marketing materials (white papers and articles). She is also focused on assisting enterprises in developing and executing their Digital and IT Transformation strategy to meet their overall business objectives through the use of ICT services, such as: IT outsourcing/nearshoring, data center and cloud services.