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Your CEO goes away to a conference and returns ecstatic. Bursting into the IT department, they say, "I've just been at a conference and learned all about the cloud. It's cheaper and faster and will allow our teams to collaborate better, while being able to work from anywhere. How do we make this happen?"

Someone in your team, aware of the benefits of the cloud, summons the courage to speak up.

"Here's the thing - we've investigated migrating some or all of our services to the cloud. But, we've hit a snag. The switches, routers and possibly the storage capacity in our datacentre may not be sufficient to handle moving to the cloud."

Perplexed and a little annoyed, the CEO asks, “What do you mean? Why didn’t someone tell me sooner?”

This scenario, and others like it, happen more often than you might expect.

As more leaders realise the benefits of the cloud, they seek to leverage its use across the board. Increasingly, they are interested in hybrid solutions, in which some IT infrastructure remains on-premise while the rest moves to the cloud.

While this is an ideal entry point into the cloud for many organisations, the physical infrastructure (i.e. networks and datacentres) doesn't always play ball. It may not be geared in the right way to deal with the change due to issues such as:

Slow speeds

Too many bottlenecks

A lack of security

Rising volumes of network traffic

In fact, the cloud has placed so many new demands on networks and datacentres that it has given rise to a new era of networking: cloud-grade networking. According to Juniper Networks, cloud-grade networking makes "networks less capital-intensive, more automated, and ultimately better suited for innovation."

With this in mind, how do you prepare to match a CEO's excitement when he or she indicates a desire to leverage cloud technology? And how can you offer a solution, rather than more problems?

Clear Strategy

To begin, you must have a clear strategy on how you are going to start migrating to the cloud. Without a strategy, it's impossible to know what should be migrated – and if it's even possible.

Document which elements of your current IT infrastructure could, and should, be phased out and in what priority. Find out if there’s a viable cloud alternative, and what you would need to do for a successful changeover. This will prove invaluable in the immediate and not-too-distant future, when old infrastructure is due for replacement and you want to put forward a case for swapping to a cloud alternative.

Your strategy should also include plans for how to handle change and adoption to reduce resistance and potential impacts to migration. Working in the cloud can feel revolutionary to some, so it's important to plan for buy-in from those who will be using it.

Cloud readiness assessment

Next, take an inventory of your current systems, including their age and capacity to run new applications like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services. You may find that there is a case for upgrading certain systems to ensure they have the necessary computing power.

On the infrastructure side, you will need to investigate:

Storage capacity: how much do you want to handle on-premise, and how much in the cloud?

Is your network gear up to date?

Is new wiring required to handle new types of connectivity?

Is your connectivity reliable?

Do you have plenty of bandwidth – on a daily basis and in peak times?

Are your connection speeds high enough?

Once you ascertain current capabilities, you can begin to plan how a cloud migration might work, and what is needed to achieve it effectively and with minimal disruption to BAU.

Plan for security

 Migrating to the cloud presents its own security issues, especially when it comes to networks that have been configured primarily for on-premise applications. Pre-empting these issues will save time and trouble after migration has taken place.

For example, you will want to have an effective identity and access management plan, restricting access to authorised users, and providing a single sign solution for those who will use multiple cloud applications throughout the day.

Maintain a risk management plan that allows you to foresee and track potential risks to the organisation and the integrity of data. And consider your policies and procedures ahead of time. Staff should be well aware of their security obligations from the very first time they logon.

Proper preparation is the key to successful cloud migration. Though you may identify many areas where your networks or other infrastructure are not compatible, planning ahead will allow you to present an excited CEO with options rather than problems - effectively allowing your organisation to sail through cloud adoption and achieve the perfect balance of a hybrid approach.

For help conducting a cloud readiness assessment on your networks, call ICT Networks on (02) 9078 7700 or complete our contact form.