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Talking Cloud 2: Four Key Vantage Points on a Cloud Migration

In the previous installment of our “Talking Cloud” interview series, we explored the factors organizations need to keep in mind as they look toward moving to the cloud. In this article, we are going to look specifically at migration and the process of moving business data to the cloud once the decision is made. While some may view a migration as simply moving data from one place to another, it can be a very different and more complex story for others in the organization.

Similar to the considerations phase, a migration can mean a wide variety of different things to different stakeholders across the business. For instance, while an IT administrator may be more focused on the amount of data being migrated and the speed of the migration, a compliance officer is likely paying more attention to the kind of data being migrated and ensuring sensitive information is not exposed throughout the process. Each of these vantage points needs to be taken into account, and each stakeholder should have a “seat at the table” when it comes to planning and carrying out a migration. Ultimately, the synthesis of all of these different points of view is crucial to ensure a move to the cloud is a success.

With this in mind, we pulled our cloud expert panel together again to understand what a migration to the cloud means for a CEO, compliance officer, CIO, and IT pro as well as share best practices for putting together the ideal strategy for your business.

Meet our experts:

Image of Dr. Tianyi (TJ) Jiang Dr. Tianyi (TJ) Jiang: AvePoint Co-CEO and Co-Founder, offers a CEO perspective. TJ oversees product strategy and business development for AvePoint’s global businesses, and is one of the main architects in guiding AvePoint’s evolution to become a collaboration enabler. A recipient of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in New Jersey in 2010, TJ received both B.S. and Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Cornell University, and a Master of Philosophy and PhD in Data Mining from Department of Information Systems, Operations Management, and Statistics, Stern School of Business, New York University.

Image of Dana SimberkoffDana Simberkoff: AvePoint Chief Compliance and Risk Officer, offers a compliance perspective. Dana is responsible for executive level consulting, research and analytical support on current and upcoming industry trends, technology, standards, best practices, concepts and solutions for risk management and compliance. Dana holds a bachelor of arts from Dartmouth College and a juris doctorate from Suffolk University Law School.

Image of John PelusoJohn Peluso: AvePoint VP of Product Management, offers a CIO perspective. With more than 17 years of experience helping organizations understand how they can drive secure collaboration and business productivity through an effective use of technology, John has held both technical and business management roles, resulting in a deep understanding of the priorities and concerns of both sides of the organization. John holds Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and Microsoft Certified Trainer certifications.

Image of Shyam OzaShyam Oza: AvePoint Senior Product Manager, offers an IT pro perspective. Shyam works directly with global organizations – many of which are in the Fortune 500 – on crafting new deployment strategies utilizing hybrid and cloud environments with Microsoft technologies. His expertise and passion for being at the leading edge of new application delivery models, including mobile and social, has garnered him speaking opportunities throughout the country. Shyam studied Information Systems, specializing in Communications and Command and Control at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

So you’ve decided to move to the cloud. What do you need to consider now that you’ve made the decision?

Dr. Tianyi Jiang (TJ): When it comes to the decisions you need to make as you migrate data to a new platform, I often use the analogy of moving a house. When you move from one house to another, you don’t just pick up the items and place them in the exact same spot in the new house. Often, the new house will have very different layout from the old one, so it’s critical to sort out what you have before the move. Similarly, in a data migration, you may not need to take everything with you. You’ll want to assess what needs to be moved as well as any legacy data that can either be kept on premises, archived, or purged altogether. On top of that, you need to make sure information is properly tagged, classified, and managed upon migration.

John Peluso (JP): If you’re looking at a migration as a CIO, one of the things to do is identify the specific workloads that you are going to move to the cloud and examine the impact it will have on your other workloads. Will there be any kind of disruption? Do you need to create a connection between workloads? That is going to be important both for helping users understand how to use the services as well as helping IT understand how to maintain and support them.

Another thing you want to think about is who and how will you manage these resources once you put them in the cloud. You want to look at service level agreements (SLAs) from the cloud vendor and get to know the general community best practices around moving to the cloud. You also want to think about how you can meet your specific goals with the tools that come with your chosen cloud platform. If anything you need is lacking from this native toolset, you may need to seek additional resources.

When it comes to actually moving your content to the cloud, you should decide whether you need to take everything or if there is anything you can leave behind on premises. These are what we call data grooming concerns. Do you need to bring a legacy file share from your on premises network to Office 365 and migrate it into SharePoint Online? You will need to carefully analyze your source content to determine what to bring to the destination.

Dana Simberkoff (DS): From a compliance perspective, you need to think about what kinds of data you are going to move to the cloud. Are you going to allow HR data to move to the cloud? Are you going to allow health information about your employees to move to the cloud? Are you going to allow customer data, financial information, or intellectually property to move to the cloud? You need to determine what kind of policies you are going to put in place to make sure that you move the appropriate data to the right place. Once you are in the cloud you will want to ensure that data is properly segregated, and appropriate information is kept either in the cloud or kept on premises as your policies dictate.

Shyam Oza (SO): I think one of the big mistakes the organization can make during a migration is just picking up everything and moving it to the new platform as is. Pre-migration planning and assessment is a crucial step, and not doing an inventory of your existing content can cause serious implications as you begin to migration, potentially causing significant delays or even failure. You will need to scan your content to get a true understanding of how much exists in your environment. Additionally, you should understand what those documents are, what business units they belong to, and, most importantly, what business value the content has. You should see migration as a great opportunity for housekeeping, and it’s an ideal time for for IT administrators to archive unused data as well delete content that’s not necessary anymore to ensure only business critical content is moved to the cloud.

What do you need to do before you can migrate?

DS: From a compliance perspective, before you can migrate, you need to make sure you have a number of things in place – specifically people, process, policies, and technology. From a people perspective, who is the person responsible for making decisions, or answering questions about what data can or can’t be moved? Who is going to be responsible for making sure the right policies are actually in place and agreed to by all relevant stakeholders within the organization? Who is responsible for training your employees to make sure that everybody understands what they should or should not be doing on the new system? Someone will need to ensure that is easier for users to do the right thing than the wrong thing. How are you going to use technology to solve these challenges so your employees can work seamlessly and securely on the new system?

Additionally, you need to evaluate and scan the data you have on premises to determine what is sensitive and what is not. One of the ways that we see companies commonly doing this is by setting up categories for data. The categories can be as simple as public information, internal information, confidential information, and highly confidential information. While scanning, be sure to tag and classify your data so it is appropriately categorized to help ease the decisions about what should move and what should not to maintain compliance with your policies. By doing this, you’re not just setting policies, but actually acting on those policies and putting them in play for the benefit of the organization.

TJ: A successful migration is all about having the right information in the right repositories. Properly tagging and classifying data makes everything much easier to find. With the availability of powerful search technologies like Microsoft Office Delve, what concerns some enterprise customers is that, if the security infrastructure is not set properly, people will be able to find sensitive content that they should not have access to. That’s why it’s critical when moving data to the cloud to have effective governance and infrastructure management in place. As you move to a highly scalable and accessible data platform like the cloud, you want the peace of mind that the right people have access to the right information at the right time.

JP: One really important consideration – especially when it comes to systems like Office 365 – is how identity will be handled in the cloud. There is a good chance that the way you authorize users in the cloud will be different than it was for on premises systems. You may have to do some mapping of the on-premises user accounts to the respective cloud user accounts. This is a very important step that can cause delays in the migration process if it’s not properly planned out beforehand.

After your migration, how do you consider your migration project completed?

DS: To a compliance officer, a migration project is still not complete even when the last bit of data is moved. It is considered a success when you can validate that the data in the cloud is supposed to be there and is appropriately categorized according to organizational policies.

TJ: To the business, a migration is less a technology concern and more about enabling the organization to run faster and more efficiently. As a CEO, I consider a migration a success when my business users are actually utilizing the new platform in a more productive fashion than ever before.

How does AvePoint help customers ensure a migration to the cloud is a success?

JP: AvePoint is uniquely positioned to help our customers make this move to the cloud. Our depth of experience with cloud migrations, early adoption of cloud technologies, and wide variety of product offerings are able to support organizations no matter how they decide to utilize the cloud for collaboration. On top of that, our solutions for governance and compliance at all levels of the organization ensure businesses have a partner as their cloud use expands and evolves over time.

Looking specifically at Office 365 – it is a platform with services that you can utilize as you need them. You have one place to register all of your users, and then you can determine what services those users need to access. We took the same approach with AvePoint Online Services, our Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform for Office 365. It offers one platform to manage the administration, compliance, and governance of an Office 365 environment, so organizations have one place to access any of those specific services that they need.

DS: AvePoint provides not only technology solutions that allow you to scan, discover, classify, and tag content, but also we provide subject matter experts who can help with important policy decisions that organizations need to make. We can help organizations understand the risks associated with leaving data on premises versus moving it to the cloud. Software can help you be successful, but software alone will not be the measure of success. It really is the integration of technology with people, processes, and training that ultimately allow you to be successful, and AvePoint can help you get you there.

More on Cloud Migration

Want to hear more from our team? Check out our Spotlight on the Cloud resource series to see this exclusive interview video and other materials on migration that will help your organization make the right decisions when it comes to navigating the cloud.

Visit our website to learn how our solutions help you smoothly transition to the cloud while ensuring your data is effectively managed, well governed, secure, and compliant wherever it resides.

Have a question or a cloud migration story to share? Leave a comment on this post or join us in the AvePoint Online Services to discuss all things cloud!

Eric Burniche
Eric Burniche
Eric is a former Vice President of Marketing at AvePoint. In that role, Eric was responsible for the strategy, creation, and execution of all messaging, positioning, Go-To-Market activities, and integrated marketing campaigns for the AvePoint software portfolio.

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