By David Wray

Your business is all locally-hosted, but you want to move your infrastructure to the cloud. How do you do that? If you’re like most businesses, you don’t really know. Sure, you’ve heard of companies moving their business infrastructure, but it takes time, money, and it’s a big hassle, right?

Not so fast. What most businesses don’t realise is that it’s not that difficult. Here’s what your competitors are doing, and what they’re keeping from you.

Calculate the Costs

The first step in moving to a cloud-based model is to assess where you are now and how much it’s costing you. Then, assess how much it will cost you to move your system. Do you already have a private cloud system that’s hosted locally?

Maybe you have servers set up in-house.

And, while the term “cloud” has a lot of different meanings to different people, it generally means centralization and automation to everyone.

This isn’t strictly a cost play. It’s a cost-benefit play. In other words, how much are you paying, and what are you getting for the money?

Get Tech Specs

Once your company has calculated the costs, and figured out what you want to do, it’s time to develop a strategy Do the applications you want to use scale?

Do you need load-balancing? Do your apps require more secure communication to a back-end database? Once you’ve figured out your technical needs, it’s time to go shopping.

Some providers, you will find, will support your VPN concentrator natively, which makes secure networking easier. Others won’t or will require extensive modifications and customisations.

It’s also important to get performance data and understand how much network and storage you need. Different cloud providers offer different tiered rates. And, some make it easier than others to ramp up or down. On-demand server creation and destruction is a plus, but you also need the technical muscle to manage those servers, because many companies won’t do server reboots for you automatically, even if it’s a managed account.

Set Goals

What do you want to accomplish? Goal-setting is one of the most important aspects of migration, but it’s something few companies do well. Goal-setting will answer questions like:

  • Do I require a completely new infrastructure, and how will I get this done on this server or cloud provider?
  • Do I need provisions for legacy systems and data?
  • Do I need tools like VMWare’s vCloud Connector?

Obviously, not all companies need the same things.

Get Tested

Once you get the migration under way, which most cloud providers will help you with, it’s time to turn your attention to security testing. Any time you make material changes to your infrastructure, you should have a test performed to test your network’s vulnerabilities.

It might seem like something that isn’t required, but it is – especially if you handle customer financial or health data.

Pen testing is designed to exploit your company’s vulnerabilities. Professional testers, called “pen testers,” will attempt to exploit your company’s weaknesses through a combination of custom hardware, software, and social engineering.

Implement Security Safeguards

Once you’ve been thoroughly tested, it’s time to implement new security safeguards. Use the report you get from your penetration tester to craft a new security protocol.