Three totally cool, yet entirely un-sexy, ways to migrate to the cloud

Netskope
March 19, 2014 By Jamie Barnett

One of our new customers is a totally cool non-profit focused on brain research. They are cool because of the work they do and how necessary it is, but they are also cool because of how they’re using cloud technology to get work done. They’re not just consumers of cloud technology, they’re makers of it. They’re developing their own mobile apps to showcase and share their unique research, publish articles, and engage their stakeholders and donors.

But what caught my eye is how they’re migrating from an entirely on-premises IT delivery model to an almost entirely cloud-based one, and doing it at a pace that’s decisive and takes advantage of the cost savings the cloud offers, but without the disruption. With a small IT headcount and budget, they can’t afford the risk of a total cutover. I think what they’re doing is entirely pragmatic and un-sexy, yet should become a standard for how organizations like them (non-profits, public agencies, etc.) migrate to cloud.

Here are just a few of the many things they’re doing right:

  • Use what they have. The organization has a small NFS on-premises deployment that they invested in a few years ago. Rather than jettison that, they are using a cloud storage app that integrates with that file system but allows users to sync files between devices, the cloud, and that system. That way they don’t have to do a forklift file transfer and deal with the headaches of doing away with what has been an effective thus far. Instead, they’re nudging users to the cloud but in a way that doesn’t dictate pace.
  • Balance the new and the familiar. The organization has been thoughtful about which business-critical systems they will start fresh on in the cloud versus ones they’ll migrate from on-premises systems. For help desk, they made the choice to cutover to an entirely new, cloud-based ticketing and support system; whereas for HR and email, they chose to go with the SaaS versions of their existing providers’ systems. In each case, they’re taking advantage of the agility the cloud offers them, but they’re able to mitigate risk in the systems in which the cost of failure is too high to stumble.
  • Decide based on usage. Going forward, the organization will make decisions about which cloud apps to use, promote, throttle, and consolidate based on a combination of app quality and usage patterns. IT will look at not just consumption – as in sessions or bytes – within apps, but users’ actual usage – what device they’re on, what activities they’re doing – to ascertain whether and how users are getting the full value of the apps, as well as make the necessary network changes to make those apps most accessible when and where they’re needed.

What I like about the transition that this organization is making is it is aggressive while being extremely pragmatic and mitigating risk.

Have you seen or experienced smart transitions to the cloud? Tell us about them.