How To Stop Downtime From Risking Your Cloud Projects

Cloud computing represents a great opportunity for companies to step off the treadmill of IT hardware refresh projects and management of updates to IT systems. According to Vision Solutions’ own State of Resilience Report for 2015, 62 per cent of all companies are using cloud services in some shape or form. This statistic covers the use of a wide variety of different cloud platforms, from internal private clouds through to hybrid and public cloud implementations.

Moving to the cloud is a significant challenge. At this point, the issue of downtime can stop cloud projects in their tracks. The risk of critical IT systems being offline can lead to projects being deferred or cancelled.

Over 60 per cent of IT professionals surveyed stated that they had had to delay a major IT project; when asked about the reasons for putting back these projects, the biggest reason given was the risk of encountering downtime. This was followed by a lack of resources to complete the migration and then lack of continuity planning skills. When an incident of downtime can affect the perception of IT internally – and end up costing more than any projected savings – how can you plan ahead successfully?

To improve the chances of any migration being successful, it’s worth spending the time to thoroughly understand what is being moved to the cloud and why. Email servers, file servers and databases are all commonly moved to the cloud; however, these tend to be single instances that can work in isolation. For more intricate services like applications, there can be more moving parts involved that all have to be working at the same time. From this, it is possible to look at how each component will work with the others over time. Can a corporate application work across different areas during the migration, or will it all have to be in one place to perform in a way that is reliable and sufficient for the business?

It can be possible to update the application to work in a hybrid fashion during its migration – however, this can lead to additional costs being incurred as updates are made to each part of the service as it was made. Each part of the application will have to be migrated to the location where it will live long-term, and each of these moves can lead to downtime for the service if not managed properly.

Planning the move is important, as it enables IT teams to diagnose potential sources of risk and downtime. This includes looking at potential unforeseen circumstances that might come up during a move, such as risk of data loss or the ability to roll back to the current systems if something is not working properly.

Avoiding the hidden challenges and costs around cloud migration

Alongside the obvious costs that can be associated with migration, there are others that are less obvious. Planning ahead can help a migration go smoothly, while tools like replication can reduce the window of downtime that is required as part of a move to the cloud as well. However, the people element of a successful migration is often overlooked.

Staff costs can cover several elements within a migration. This involves more than just the spend on pizzas and beer that can tide the team over during a late night or weekend implementation. From investment in additional expertise as part of the project through to overtime payments if projects have to be completed out-of-hours, budgeting for this is important. For organisations that don’t invest in staff time, there can be a cost around productivity and morale that goes on far longer as well.

Investing in proper migration planning and tools to speed up the move to the cloud can pay off over time, particularly for service providers that are working with multiple customers around cloud. Getting migrations done in shorter time-scales, in more predictable ways and with less downtime for the customer provides more customer satisfaction. In turn, this can help cloud service providers improve their profitability and differentiate their services.

Many IT professionals have a valid fear of downtime and the effect that loss of service can have, both on the business they work for and on their own careers. However, with the right planning and data migration plans, this risk of downtime can be virtually eliminated.

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