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To migrate (to the Cloud) or not to migrate: That was the question many businesses pondered.
And then 2020 happened. Many companies found themselves unprepared to handle a global pandemic, a charged political climate and a global recession, forcing a change to what was “business as usual.”
Your business has to be ready for anything. With that comes a more pressing question when it comes to your systems, applications and data:
When (and how) should you migrate to the Cloud?
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” does not apply to technology in a dynamic and uncertain business climate. Although your on-premises systems and applications may have worked until now, they could be holding you back. Ask yourself:
Playing it safe – keeping your technology in your environment – may not be the best option. An outdated, siloed system can keep you operating in the past. A future focus calls for embracing the idea of Cloud migration. But what does it involve? Below are five things to consider as you explore your options.
Migrating to the Cloud sounds simple: You partially or completely deploy your digital assets, services, IT resources, or applications to the Cloud (aka, the internet).
Microsoft defines Cloud computing as delivering technology services over the internet. Any software or data that lives or has lived on a computer hard drive is accessible online if it’s in the Cloud.
There are three different Clouds:
Cloud migration can involve transferring your entire infrastructure – computing, storage, software, platform services, etc. – to the Cloud for access from anywhere on any device (known as “lift and shift”). You may opt to transfer a certain number of components to the Cloud. That may depend on your company’s needs or requirements.
Migrating your existing systems and/or applications to the Cloud can reap benefits for your business.
Cloud-based systems can reduce a company’s dependence on its IT department, freeing up your IT staff to focus on more value-added tasks. They also improve operational efficiencies, driving long-term cost savings on maintenance and upgrades. Companies can spread the cost of moving to a new, Cloud-based solution over increments. You don’t have to migrate everything at once.
The return on investment can be substantial. A Forrester study found that a move to Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Cloud yielded about 60 percent ROI for organizations in the form of enhanced data, business insights, operational efficiencies and productivity improvements.
Some businesses may fear moving to the Cloud because they believe their data and applications are safer within their own four walls. Cloud computing tools from leading vendors such as Microsoft and NetSuite are often safer and more secure than legacy on-premises solutions and traditional data centers.
Cloud-based platforms protect data with next-generation firewalls, Intrusion Detection and Intrusion Protection Systems, encrypted traffic and more. And when it comes to compliance, Microsoft can meet your organization’s risk and control expectations to ensure financial statement accuracy and global regulatory compliance. NetSuite has security tools and policies in place to keep its customers’ information safe and in compliance. Enavate provides enhanced security features and can help meet compliance requirements.
“Migrating to the Cloud has never been more important than right now.” – Kevin Armstrong, Global Strategy Leader, Enavate
In the Cloud, you can quickly adapt your infrastructure and workloads. Your organization can scale up or down as your needs change. You don’t have to invest in expensive equipment or maintain data centers. For example, if your company experiences a sudden increase in demand, you’re able to respond quickly.
When you integrate your ERP and CRM with the Cloud, you can access real-time customer and sales data in one place, so you can see what’s working and what needs adjusting. Plus, better insights drive better customer service and business decisions. For example, a retail point-of-sale system for multiple stores has numerous data streams; those streams compile to a master database in the Cloud to provide a complete view of operations within your ERP.
The weaknesses of outdated on-premises systems, such as a lack of scalability and the inability to support a remote workforce, were brought to the forefront during the global pandemic. Many companies’ employees found themselves working from home. Companies never thought they would be managing distributed teams and everything that comes with that, including laptops, tablets, printers and applications, from afar.
Especially in challenging times, migrating to the Cloud can help companies deal with the difficulties of uncertainty. Replicating your environment online can mitigate that uncertainty; Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), for example, protects against the loss of mission-critical application data for secure and continuous operations with a complete system backup in the Cloud in case of a disaster or other disruption.
“People come to us because they have typically been holding onto a legacy on-premises platform for too long.” – Kevin Armstrong
While the benefits appear attractive, keep in mind that a Cloud migration comes with its share of challenges. Consider these hurdles – real or perceived – and why they shouldn’t slow down your journey.
One of the biggest causes of failure for a Cloud migration is a lack of understanding and planning for what will happen when multiple systems come together. For example, what if the data between your CRM and ERP are not in sync? Before going live, take the time to understand how all your systems work together to ensure a smooth migration.
Companies often fail to look at the total or actual cost of their on-premises environment, including the expense of new equipment and services for upgrading, ongoing maintenance and bug fixes, software purchases and other things. That isn’t easy to quantify, but you can potentially lose millions if your systems go down.
“Once we’ve taken on the responsibility of maintaining your environment, we have a fiduciary responsibility to give you an uptime guarantee that, if we don’t meet it, we start paying you back.” – Kevin Armstrong
Set the right expectations to avoid surprises and better prepare for roadblocks along the way. Having a good plan also minimizes disruption and ensures you meet your goals with the migration.
“You can let technology happen to you, or you can drive technology to maximize the benefits.” – Russ Riley, Cloud Leader
The goal of moving your entire ERP to the Cloud may be holding up the process because it's such a big move. It can feel like an impossible task. In reality, you don’t need to migrate everything at once. In some cases, a combination of Cloud and on-premises systems may work better for you at first. You can choose to move pieces incrementally based on priorities and budget.
It’s no small feat to manage the change from one ERP platform to another or moving your on-premises solution to the Cloud. It can be challenging to ensure that everyone uses the system as designed and accomplish their daily tasks without significant disruptions. You may need to reframe your change management tactics to be more agile as your systems shift.
It makes sense that companies are concerned about the impact of a migration on short- and long-term operations. Migration can be costly if there are problems with the process. As many companies have had a painful history with technology migration, it’s easy to see why some may hesitate or put off the move as long as possible. But with the right partner and a solid plan, companies can do it with more gain and less pain.
Compliance should matter to businesses evaluating their options. That said, there may be a misconception that maintaining compliance in the Cloud can be more complicated. When evaluating on-premises versus the Cloud, companies must assess the financial and operational costs before deciding what makes the most sense for their business.
The Cloud should not be ruled out because of compliance concerns. A Cloud platform such as Microsoft Azure boasts 90-plus compliance certifications in more than 50 global regions and countries, as well as 35-plus offerings specific to the needs of key industries.
Microsoft continually engages with governments, regulatory bodies and non-governmental organizations to maintain domestic and international regulatory and compliance needs. NetSuite’s offerings also provide a foundation for compliance to meet your organization’s risk and control expectations and ensure financial statement accuracy. When preparing for a move to the Cloud, organizations need to involve legal, risk management, procurement and compliance professionals in the process.
Choosing a partner that doesn’t understand your business or industry can seriously complicate matters. Implementing a Cloud migration can be a smoother, more effective process when working with a knowledgeable partner. Customer service and support are also essential for the Cloud migration process from launch until you go live.
A Cloud migration's success can depend on the partner you choose, just as the right ERP partner can make a difference for your business. Look for a Cloud partner with hundreds of migrations under their belt and experience in your industry. This way, you can feel confident that nothing slips through the cracks.
When selecting a partner, ask about certifications and experience. Ask about available platforms through Microsoft, NetSuite, or a third-party independent software vendor (ISV). Know that your partner can provide you with a sandbox environment to train and test before going live.
The right partner will conduct a Cloud migration assessment and discovery to review in-house IT resources and infrastructure requirements. From there, your partners should be able to determine whether migrating to the Cloud is the right decision for your business. Timeline and budget are important considerations as well.
“Ask about security and compliance posture. Ask about systems of record on how the partner will manage your platform. And ask what to expect after go-live: Is it set it and forget it?” – Russ Riley
A Cloud migration assessment can help you identify and create the strategic approach that will help the move be successful.
Tools such as the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure include a Cloud migration checklist to identify the steps involved. The results can fuel your Cloud migration strategy, helping map out the process and set up a Cloud environment that will meet your company’s requirements.
Recognizing that no single path works for every company, most companies’ Cloud migration journeys may include the following steps:
“When you want to migrate to the Cloud, don’t forget to take in what it means to your end-user.” – Russ Riley
Ready to migrate to the Cloud? Learn more about partnering with Enavate. Schedule a Whiteboard Session with one of our Cloud experts.