By Khaled Farhang, eGuard Tech Services and member of The ASCII Group Since 2008
Getting customers to the cloud can be a journey fraught with questions, concerns and challenges. However, it also can be a calm, structured process that offers your customer insight into every detail of the journey, while also helping them to understand how the cloud will work for their business and what the impact of a cloud transition will be, both short- and long-term.
Many customers will have a limited knowledge of what migrating to the cloud actually means for their operations in terms of functionality, usability and cost. As such, they will likely have a myriad of questions for you as they try and understand whether to pursue a cloud migration. You can either answer those questions in a scattergun approach, leaving both you and your customer confused and disordered and dealing with what seems like a never-ending list of concerns; or you can follow a clear process that will provide a structured approach to every step of the cloud journey, enabling the smooth cloud transition every business deserves, and an easy, calm process for you (no matter how complicated your client’s environment might be).
The first step in ensuring a customer’s cloud journey will be orderly and effective is to consider the challenges you might face when managing a migration. Many customers may come to you expecting to put their entire operations in the cloud. While this may be possible for a large number of businesses, it won’t be the case for all. An engineering firm using AutoCAD, for example, might find that some of their operations have to be kept on premise, owing to the massive amount of file transfer and interconnection needed when using the program. The message here? Be sure to run what we call a cloud readiness assessment with your clients before taking any steps on a cloud journey.
The cloud readiness assessment will enable you to find out if they have certain applications that perhaps are not conducive to being on a cloud or remote platform. Understand how they work, what line-of-business applications they use in their organization, and also what the different critical processes their organization employs in its everyday functions to see if that can be successfully migrated to the cloud.
The cloud readiness assessment also will help you tackle unexpected or unusual aspects of your customers’ business. For example, we have a global client with offices in developing countries where internet speed can sometimes be an issue. The cloud readiness assessment pinpoints this, allowing us to engineer that remote office to have a specific synchronization process or some other way of getting the information to the cloud that is not dependent on fast internet all the time.
The next step is a cost analysis. This is crucial to see if the cloud move makes sense for your customer. There’s often a perception that moving to the cloud will save the business money, but that’s not always the case and it’s important your customers know this before embarking on a cloud migration. Be very clear and up-front with clients about this – let them know that they may be able to save money, but the cloud may actually cost them more, especially on certain platforms where the costs fluctuate depending on the CPU, memory, disk space and internet usage – that’s a monthly fee that fluctuates.
Talk to your customer about how moving some or all of the applications to the cloud will affect their budget. Will it increase or decrease? The cost analysis is key to addressing such questions and so it is crucial at this stage to ensure both you and your customer know exactly what the financial outcome will be once the move has been made.
The third and final thing you must do before embarking on a customer cloud journey is an inventory review. Work with your customers to document what software they have and what versions of the software, and also, of course what hardware they have. Then you can work out what makes sense to move to the cloud (and what doesn’t) and review that with your client.
Once these key preparation stages have been met, you can work with your client to put a cloud action plan together. This provides a comprehensive project plan of what's going to be migrated and in what time frame. At this stage, we review the entire process with the client, as well as what the end result is going to look like for them, and then we put it into action.
Following this structured process will give your customer full peace of mind knowing what’s happening and when with their proposed cloud migration, also don’t forget that they have to continue running their business throughout this entire journey. They can’t just switch things off so they can be moved to the cloud and switch it all back on when the transition is complete. Business must continue as usual, so a smooth cloud migration is crucial in order to facilitate this.
About The Author
By Khaled Farhang, Founder & CEO, eGuard Tech Services and member of The ASCII Group Since 2008.
About The ASCII Group, Inc.
The ASCII Group is a vibrant reseller community of independent MSPs, VARs, and other solutions providers. Formed in 1984, ASCII has more than 70 programs that provide turnkey cost-cutting strategies, innovative business building programs, and extensive peer interaction. ASCII members enjoy benefits such as marketing support; educational information; group purchasing power; increased leverage in the marketplace; and multiple networking opportunities. These programs enable ASCII members to increase revenue, lower operating costs, and grow service opportunities. ASCII is the oldest and largest group of independent information technology (IT) solutions providers, integrators and value added resellers (VARs) in the world. Learn more at www.ascii.com.