Guest Column | February 14, 2019

Data Migration: What To Know Before You Go

By Mark Kirstein, BitTitan

Data Folder

Planning and assessments can go a long way toward ensuring an efficient migration project.

Despite growing cloud adoption figures, fear and confusion persist among clients as to what the cloud exactly is and when moving to it is an appropriate solution for their business. Common concerns include questions about data security and sovereignty, cost when compared to on-premises systems, and even issues with governance. A migration project brings its own hurdles and challenges, as well as steep penalties for failure: downtime and data loss, to name two.

Despite these concerns, most businesses that have made the leap found better security, flexibility, and cost when compared to maintaining their old hardware, systems, and status quo. And for managed service providers looking to supplement monthly recurring revenue with high-margin project work, migration projects are an attractive proposition.

Benjamin Franklin famously said in 1736, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While Franklin was referring to the importance of preventing fires rather than fighting them, when it comes to migration projects, his advice is also entirely appropriate. The pitfalls of cloud migration projects can be avoided through adequate planning and assessment of the source environment in addition to proper setup and configuration of the destination.

With that in mind, here are four tips to most effectively transition a client to the cloud.

Evaluate Business And Technical Needs

The first step is to remember most companies have unique business needs and objectives, and it is important to determine how cloud solutions will benefit their business — not only today, but in the future.

Also consider the differences and benefits of a single cloud provider or a multi-cloud approach. Determine if a complete cloud migration or a hybrid-cloud strategy, which offers a balance of cloud and on-prem services, is right for this client.

Whatever path is ultimately selected, it’s critical to evaluate both business and technical needs for the client to ensure it’s their best course of action. Do the due diligence. Perform network discovery and analysis, discuss end goals, and advise clients accordingly.

Test The Environment And Set Expectations Appropriately

Once a cloud strategy has been established, it’s important to thoroughly test the source environment and set appropriate expectations around the transition. This includes assessing existing operating systems, applications, and other infrastructure for compatibility with the new cloud environment. The other factor? Estimated data migration speeds.

“The most overlooked piece during a migration is often the amount of time difference it takes to move large amounts of data to the cloud over a wide-area-network (WAN) connection versus a local connection,” says Jonathan Blakey, CIO of The 20, an IT service provider headquartered in Plano, TX. Third-party migration solutions can help increase this throughput by running several migrations concurrently and actively avoiding throttling limits in place from large cloud providers, however most businesses are still limited by available bandwidth on the source.

In addition to any expected downtime, Blakey said MSPs should also plan for retiring the source environment and ensure they have an outline for communicating with end users in case something doesn’t go as expected.

Update And Archive

Migration projects also present a great opportunity for spring cleaning. Use this project as a chance to make the necessary updates to operating systems and applications. This will ultimately lead to smoother business operations and reduce support costs from service disparate systems. Cleaning out old data also can reduce the size of the overall migration project and decrease time to completion, equaling increased projects.

Ease Security Concerns With Proactivity

Security concerns are well-founded and apply to businesses of all sizes, not just the big names in the news.

“I have been told by many SMBs, ‘We aren’t a target of hackers because we are too small,’” says Eric Rintell, president and founder of Rintell Technologies, an IT firm servicing small- and midsized businesses. “I tell them company size is not factor — hackers will target anyone they can break into.”

Recent studies back up this notion. Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report found over 60 percent of cyberattacks target small businesses. It can take a month for many companies to discover the breach and it may go unnoticed for as long as a year or more.

Blakey said monitoring at every level helps ensure as much prevention as possible and allows notifications to happen in real-time as soon as a breach occurs. Take advantage of native security tools in cloud office suites like Office 365 and G Suite and ensure they’re configured correctly as soon as possible.

As the old saying goes, “You can’t really know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.” This rings true with the cloud, as a complete and comprehensive inventory and assessment is necessary for a truly effective migration.

About The Author

Mark Kirstein is the Vice President, Products at BitTitan. Prior to BitTitan, Mark served as the Senior Director of Product Management for the Mobile Enterprise Software division of Motorola Solutions, continuing in that capacity following its acquisition by Zebra Technologies in 2014. Mark has over two decades of experience overseeing product strategy, development, and go-to-market initiatives.