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Take These 5 Steps for Cloud Migration Success

March 8, 2017

With the recent hullabaloo surrounding last week’s AWS S3 outage, some of you may be wondering if cloud migration is an appropriate next step for your business.

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We are major cloud evangelists at Select Technology, but we absolutely acknowledge that things can go wrong when moving your business to the cloud in the absence of understanding and correct planning.

Despite its perceived imperfections, some level of cloud migration will benefit your business in almost all cases.

We’re going to look at steps you can take to avoid the pitfalls of cloud migration and ensure your business gets the most out of this amazing technology.

1. Know What You Need

Take a moment to think about what kind of demands will be placed on your connection.

Is your business seasonal or marketing-driven, with surges of traffic based on public holidays or marketing campaigns?

One of the amazing features of public cloud services – especially with a platform like Microsoft Azure – is automation or auto-scaling.

If you can anticipate when your periods of highest demand will be, your cloud service will automatically activate appropriate computing resources during those times.

On the other hand, do you need consistently high bandwidth for live streaming video or hosting VoIP calls with clients and partners?

If so, you might be better off using a private cloud setup that requires less automation.

Cloud computing is a very, very general term, covering literally hundreds of different services.

Taking the time to think about exactly what your business needs will help you reap the fullest benefits of cloud migration, while ensuring you’re not paying for anything you don’t need.

2. Test Before Going Live

Test, test, test before deployment!

Storing data and setting up automation in Azure and other cloud services is a relatively simple affair.

One of the biggest pitfalls of cloud migration lies not in moving your data, but in making sure your applications perform as expected once shifted up into the cloud.

The way your apps operate on-site gives little indication as to how they will act off-premise.

This point overlaps with our next one because it is so important to remember that cloud migration for businesses is often a step-by-step process.

Moving your business into the cloud one workload at a time will give you the feedback you need to anticipate all eventualities before they have the chance to affect your business.

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Pre-deployment testing of this sort is best performed by someone with the relevant experience and foresight, so we highly recommend seeking advice externally if your business lacks the skillset in-house.

If you have the IT resource onsite for pre-deployment testing then you’ll be pleased to know that Microsoft offers online instructions on topics like how to Create an Office 365 Dev/Test Environment in Azure.

3. Take Your Cloud Migration Step by Step

The point about testing is a crucial one that illustrates the importance of taking one step at a time.

Running before you can walk, so to speak, will give you far less agility. If you rush to shift your apps up to the cloud, then you will have no idea how they will operate when push comes to shove.

Cloud services are quickly becoming a business necessity but don’t worry if your competitors beat you there.

Performing your cloud migration in a step-by-step fashion will also provide a betting understanding of which services you require.

You may find that some workloads are better off remaining on-site or even automated to reduce costs.

You won’t know unless you take the time to find out!

4. Pay Attention to Security and Regulation

Every workload you move to the cloud should be thoroughly scrutinized to ensure your business’ security requirements are met.

Are you storing sensitive client data or other confidential information such as health or financial records?

GDPR is changing the way data is handled, so keeping your business compliant should be a vitally important part of your cloud migration strategy.

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The security of your data, applications, and identities is well protected with Microsoft Azure Security.

“Security and privacy are built right into the Azure platform, beginning with the Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) that addresses security at every development phase from initial planning to launch, and Azure is continually updated to make it even more secure. Operational Security Assurance (OSA) builds on SDL knowledge and processes to provide a framework that helps ensure secure operations throughout the lifecycle of cloud-based services. Azure Security Center makes Azure the only public cloud platform to offer continuous security-health monitoring.”Azure Security

5. Choose the Right Cloud Partner

It is highly recommended that you seek to a managed IT services provider to identify what kind of cloud infrastructure is the best fit for your business.

Those of you who have already figured out what you need will likely also know which environment you want to run; Azure, HPE Helion, AWS, etc.

Be sure to plan ahead with your prospective provider so you can be sure they will be capable of supporting the full functionality your cloud infrastructure as it scales up.

At Select Technology we can look at and simplify your cloud requirements from a business perspective.

Call us today to talk to better understand cloud migration and your place on the modern technological landscape.

The Cloud: Five Misconceptions About Office 365 Holding Your Business Back

February 8, 2017

With a growing number of businesses moving their computer systems into the cloud, you might have been considering migrating to Office 365.

This post was inspired by a recent eBook released by Microsoft called Myths About Moving to the Cloud – What Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Really Need to Know About Moving to Microsoft Office 365.

We didn’t cover everything in the eBook, so be sure to check it out!

There are a fair few differing opinions on the subject, but as your business grows you will ultimately want to look at O365 as a worthwhile investment.

Providing our clients with IT support and services gives us insights into the overall perceptions that individuals and organisations have about modern technologies.

Let’s look at five of the most persistent misconceptions that you may have about Microsoft 365 and elevating your business into the cloud:

1. Office 365 is Just an Online-Only Version of Office

Far from it!

Microsoft has developed Office 365 as a unique cloud-based productivity suite that covers all of your usual office tasks.

However, the applications you know and (hopefully) love like Outlook, Word, Excel, and Skype are still installed on your device. This means that you can access them offline with the option to automatically sync your data when you reconnect to the Internet.

O365 gives you the consistency of offline applications with the added benefit of being able backup and collaborate in the cloud.

2. Email is Unchanged in the Cloud

Wrong!

At Select Technology we’re mad advocates (#madvocates?) of being proactive in our IT support and services, so this next point definitely resonates with me.

One of the best things about Outlook 365 is that moving your business email to the cloud places maintenance into the hands of Microsoft. This means that you can be more proactive by working on your core business, rather than re-actively fighting fires as the arise.

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Office 365 email login is seamless, and Microsoft’s Exchange Online can be set to update automatically, with enough customisation options included to keep you in the driver’s seat.

If you’re still not convinced, bear in mind that you don’t actually need to migrate your email to O365 right away.

Microsoft offers a few different Office 365 plans based on your needs and preferences.

3. Office 365 Will Negatively Impact My Business’ Agility and Security

Never!

As we just touched on, less time spent on upgrades and maintenance equates to more time available for growing the value of your business.

Microsoft 365 makes your business more adaptable and agile, and will often save you considerable sums of money that would have been spent on expensive servers.

As for security, this comes straight from the horse’s mouth:

“To keep Office 365 security at the pinnacle of industry standards, our dedicated security team uses processes such as the Security Development Lifecycle; traffic throttling; and preventing, detecting, and mitigating breaches that many companies don’t have the resources to ensure. And, Microsoft Office 365 has a 99.9 percent financially backed uptime guarantee.”

Microsoft also lists a myriad of acronyms like FISMA, FERPA, and PIPEDA to highlight the endless rules and regulations they adhere to.

4. Monthly Updates Will Cause Issues with My Business Applications

False!

This one’s easy.

Microsoft have enough experience working with enterprise-level clients to know that their cloud offering must ensure operational continuity on all levels – no one would buy it otherwise!

Your business no doubt relies on some kind of critical bespoke solutions. If they can operate alongside Office 2010 or Office 2013, they will probably work with Office 365.

In fact, Microsoft has more than enough industry clout to work with the biggest software houses and ensure optimal integration with O365.

If you’re still worried, then rest assured that you can still keep your older version of Office installed just in case – Gates forbid – something goes awry!

5. Office 365 Migration is a P.I.T.A.

Nope!

Simply put, Office 365 migration is a cinch, but I’d like to use this opportunity to talk about something related.

This actually touches on a common overarching perception of IT being some kind of necessary evil, or expense that is to be tolerated and kept to a minimum.

That may have been true in years past, with clunky hardware sometimes being more of a liability than an asset.

Times have changed.

Another expertly coordinated migration

Another expertly coordinated migration

For us, IT should stand for Investment Technology.

With the incredible advances we’re seeing in the field… that’s exactly what it is – an investment!

Compare it to training your staff.

You might not see the results instantaneously, but as the weeks and months pan out – providing the training was decent – you’ll begin to reap the returns from your investment.

The exact same thing is true of cloud migration and IT support.

Investing in something that will help your business become more efficient and ultimately more profitable can’t be a bad thing!

If you’re ready to look at Office 365 migration or you’re not sure if it’s right for your business, call us today for some free advice.