When it comes to modernizing Information Technology, everyone talks about their lofty “cloud adoption strategies” and “digital transformation initiatives.” But with all this talking, planning the idea of cloud adoption – and the slew of vendors pushing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms in your direction – gets overwhelming fast.

Instead of getting lost in the maelstrom, organizations should begin their IT modernization efforts by focusing on the easy cloud wins with zero risk. These are the “low-hanging fruits” of cloud adoption where (1) the financial benefits are significant and obvious; and (2) the implementation processes are simple and almost immediate.

Below, we’ll give data engineers four tips to find these win-win solutions, so you can start reaping the benefits of a modernized, hybrid-cloud, IT infrastructure now – without needing to tear down your legacy systems to do it.

Table of Contents:

1. Migrate Your Backup Systems

2. Convert to SaaS Applications (When It’s Easy)

3. Eliminate Physical Phones

4. Move Dev-Test Applications to the Cloud

Questions to Ask Before Migrating to the Cloud

Tip 1: Migrate Your Resource-Heavy, Rarely-Used Backup Systems

Every non-cloud IT infrastructure dedicates a large percentage of its resources to the maintenance of rarely-used data. These assets are typically necessary for backup storage and compliance purposes. In other words, they’re non-mission-critical, so taking them offline for cloud migration should be a low-risk proposition that won’t impact your overall operations.

Think about the initial investment and maintenance fees for an on-premises, enterprise-grade data storage server. The maintenance fees are usually so high that in just a few years, you've paid the same for maintenance as you did for the server itself. This post from a Reddit user offers insight on just how high these costs can get;

"We bought 2 EMC vnx5400 with Recovery Point 3 years ago for about $340,000. It's time for renewal, and they want $180,000 for another 3 years."

If giving up your onsite server isn't an option, strategies to cut your storage support costs can ease the bleeding, but nothing compares to migrating to a cloud-storage solution and eliminating the expenses altogether. By removing the provisioning and maintenance costs of onsite equipment, cloud-storage is infinitely more economical, secure, and scalable. Even better, you may have access to free cloud storage through a platform you already use – such as Google G Suites Enterprise, which offers unlimited cloud storage to companies with more than five users.

Tip 2: Convert to SaaS Applications (When It’s Easy)

Look for on-premises applications that you can easily convert to a SaaS, cloud-based model. As long as the migration process is simple, moving your on-prem applications to the cloud should be a clear value proposition due to the following benefits:

  • Eliminates many hardware and software costs: The SaaS model eliminates the costs associated with hardware acquisition and maintenance, in addition to the costs related to software licensing, installation, and support. 
  • Flexible payment options: The flexible payment options associated with SaaS mean that your hardware and software expenses will transition to recurring operational costs. This makes budgeting more predictable and easier to control.
  • High vertical scalability: Scaling SaaS solutions up and down to grow or shrink with your business – or to control monthly costs – is usually very easy to do at any time.
  • Automatic updates: Instead of needing to license new software – or manually install a security update – SaaS providers patch and update their software automatically, which reduces your in-house IT maintenance burdens.
  • Accessible from anywhere: Your team can access SaaS applications from any internet-connected device.

For many applications, moving to SaaS is painless – like transitioning from an on-prem version of Microsoft Office to Office 365. For other applications – like switching from an in-house CRM to Salesforce – the process will involve the extraction, transformation, and loading of your data into the new solution. That’s where an automatic ETL platform like Xplenty can help. Here's an easy-to-follow guide on using Xplenty to alleviate the complexity of moving data from your legacy CRM to SalesForce.

Tip 3: Eliminate Physical Phones

Legacy organizations hand out $400-dollar phones like they’re going out of style – and they are. Your infrastructure doesn’t require the cost redundancy of provisioning phones, whether it's a smartphone or physical desk phone, when your employees can communicate with each other more efficiently via their workstation computers and personal smartphones.

There are plenty of affordable SaaS business communications platforms – like Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Lync, G Suite, Flock, Slack, Campfire, Fuze, Atlassian, Zoom, etc. – that offer all the functionality of a phone and a thousand times more. For example, these platforms permit text and voice messaging, voice calls, video calls, multi-person conferencing, document sharing, and real-time document collaboration.

Interestingly, your team might already have access to a SaaS communications platform like this at no additional cost if your organization uses G Suite or Microsoft 365 which include these kinds of solutions in their bundle of services. By making the switch, you eliminate the high cost and organizational burden of provisioning physical phones to your team. It's a no-brainer.

Tip 4: Move Dev-Test Applications to the Cloud

Instead of paying for the licenses and resources required to host dev-test apps while they’re idle – as you do when hosting them on-premises – moving dev-test to a cloud environment means you’ll only pay for the hours you’re developing and testing them. Moreover, since dev-test apps are pre-production, non-mission-critical assets, moving them to the cloud is a low-risk proposition.

Here's what you get by developing and testing your apps in a cloud-based environment:

  • Better cooperation and communication from developers and stakeholders via a centralized, readily-accessible environment for app development and testing.
  • Cost savings and cost flexibility that comes from being able to scale hosting services up or down as required.
  • Since you’re already testing and developing in a cloud-based environment, it's easier to keep your apps in the cloud once they're ready.

As an added bonus, your application vendor may sponsor a cloud-based environment where you can develop and test new products and applications for free. Don’t forget to ask about this potential benefit.

Questions to Ask Before Migrating to the Cloud

Before pulling the trigger on any of these cloud migration tips, it’s important to ask the following:

  • What cost savings will you achieve?
  • What expenses will you acquire?
  • What administrative burdens will you create?
  • What IT staff burdens will you create?
  • Does the technology require new employees or skill sets?
  • Does your staff need training to use the technology?
  • Do you need to upgrade your WAN infrastructure? When you have more systems in the cloud, a fast and reliable internet connection throughout the office is more essential than ever.
  • How long will the migration take? Will essential production assets experience downtown?
  • Are you paying for any redundant, duplicative services? Makes sure that you're not signing up for an additional service you already have access to without incurring an additional expense.
  • What business, technological, financial, time-saving, and other benefits will you achieve?

By answering these questions, you’ll have a clear picture of whether a particular move to the cloud is worth it. 

Xplenty: Complex Cloud Migrations Made Easy

In this article, we've covered the "easy cloud wins with no risk" – i.e., the low-hanging fruit of cloud adoption that's available for immediate harvest to boost your business efficiency and financial savings. But eventually, you'll want to move your focus to the high-hanging fruit on the cloud adoption tree, such as moving your entire ERP system, on-premises data warehouse, and legacy applications to the cloud.

For these transitions, you could face complex data migration challenges related to the extraction, transformation, and loading of your data. You'll need a powerful, easy-to-use ETL platform with out-of-the-box integrations that will automatically transform and load your data without the headache.

Xplenty helps you with all of the following and more:

  • Deploy ETL, ELT or replication procedures with an intuitive, visual interface.
  • Develop and schedule data pipelines with an easy-to-use workflow engine.
  • Create complex data preparation functions with Xplenty's expression language.
  • Instantly connect with and integrate your systems with data repositories and SaaS applications.
  • Highly responsive phone and messaging support and extensive documentation and tutorials to help you get the most out of the Xplenty platform.

If you want to learn how Xplenty can assist your team with its cloud migration strategy, please contact our data experts for a personalized demo.

Originally Published: March 19, 2018