Blog July 26, 2019

Cloud Migration as an MSP | 3 Things to Know

Offering cloud migration services is rapidly becoming the norm for IT consulting firms. MSPs across the board are learning they either must offer these services at an expert level or get left behind. While most platform options try to make migration rather simple for today’s IT teams, there is inherent complexity that must be tackled by professional engineers.

How do you prepare for a successful cloud migration?

What do clients need to understand before the process starts?

How do you increase the chances of a successful migration?

Here are three key pillars of a successful migration strategy that can serve you well regardless of complexity.

Failing to Plan…

The old adage is very true when it comes to cloud migration: failing to plan means planning to fail. In order to ensure that your client’s cloud migration goes as smoothly as possible, with no loss of data and little-to-no downtime, a strategic plan must be in place.

However, this doesn’t simply mean typing out an ABC list off the top of your head. In many cases, it is a good idea to assign a specific manager to oversee the migration process. Having a specialist can be critical to the success of the project, especially during a large migration that requires multiple technical plans, decisions, and deployments. While the level of preparation details necessary depends on your client’s business and overall needs, there are some basic steps you should take for every migration.

First, you should ensure that your client is completely clear about the reasons for why they’re moving to the cloud. They have to be sure exactly how their organization will benefit by moving their applications to the cloud. Second, choosing their cloud environment and whether they need a single or multi-cloud solution is another critical part of planning. If they are adamant on utilizing cloud services on a platform that you aren’t certified in, the entire project could be dead before it even starts.

Furthermore, you have to work with your client organization to decide whether to migrate their various applications via a shallow cloud integration or a deep cloud integration.

For a shallow cloud integration, you migrate your client’s on-premise application and there are limited-to-no changes made to the cloud servers. Whereas for a deep cloud integration, in order to take advantage of key cloud capabilities, you modify their application during migration.

Some of the services your clients may require can include:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (Paas)
  • Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)
  • HIPAA/HITECH Compliance

A successful cloud migration plan isn’t just about the migration itself, it’s about ensuring that you know exactly what your client needs and that you can provide it. Additionally, it’s vitally important that you check your work at each step along the way. Even the best among us can make simple mistakes or small oversights and it is always a best practice to double and even triple-check your work along the way.

“Houston, We Have a Problem”

Even the best-laid plans can be quickly laid to waste, no matter how skilled you are. When it comes to your customer’s all-important data and applications, it’s imperative that you have a backup plan for each stage of the migration. Your team is likely quite adept at testing and is well-aware of the importance of backing up their work every step of the way, but failing to have contingency plans in place can possibly derail the entire migration.

Tunnel vision is a trait that all too many organizations fall victim to. From the client side as well as the managed service provider’s end, focusing on a single solution can result in overlooking simple answers that are quite often affordable and easy to implement. More importantly, the alternate plans can often inspire innovative thinking and culminate in leaps forward for your clients.

It should go without saying, but since it’s such a critically important aspect of any cloud migration, we’ll say it here anyway — it’s extremely important to keep security top of mind during the migration process. Any temporary storage for your client’s data should be just as secure as its final destination. This becomes crucial when your clients are required to adhere to HIPAA or other compliance regulations. Preserving data fidelity and privacy go hand in hand.

Lastly, once migration has been completed, it’s always a best practice to keep the client’s old infrastructure intact for at least a short period of time. This helps ensure that there is still a backup plan in case something goes wrong. Once you’re certain that the new cloud infrastructure is working properly, then and only then should you turn off the old setup.

Migration Milestones

In order to ensure that your client’s needs are completely covered and all goals are met, one last thing you should know is that it’s important to establish milestones and an end point for the migration. The migration plan should include checks and balances throughout, but there should be clearly defined milestones along the way.

Especially a completion milestone.

When is the job complete?

Migrations can be complicated, especially when there’s new data being created throughout the entire migration process. Ensuring that there is a completion milestone defined will help forego disagreements at the end of the migration.

Even after you’ve finished migrating everything to the cloud, there are several things that your client has to consider. Resource optimization is generally considered the most important and when users allocate resources statically as opposed to customization, they’re not taking advantage of the cloud’s strengths. MSPs that don’t set migration completion milestones can easily find themselves working on optimization aspects that they not only haven’t been hired to do so, they may not be prepared to undertake such an important aspect of cloud usage.

Conclusion

For MSPs looking to provide cloud migration services, there’s a virtual ton of things to keep in mind along the way. However, there are three key things to know that we covered today:

  1. Plan the migration from start to finish and check your work along the way.
  2. Have a backup plan for each stage whenever possible and never turn off the old infrastructure until you’re certain the cloud solution is working properly.
  3. Establish milestones, especially for the endpoint.

In order to ensure that your client’s every cloud migration need is met, we would invite you to leverage a strategic partnership with Connectria. Since 2005 we’ve been helping managed service providers large and small migrate workloads to new infrastructure, including the cloud.

A partnership with Connectria will immediately enhance your offerings to an entirely new level… starting with the ability to help your clients migrate to new cloud environments. Contact us today for more information on how our team of expert engineers can help support your organization when it comes to cloud migrations.

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