More companies are moving data to the Cloud to empower a dynamic workforce, improve the reliability of their services, and to gain flexibility in their IT expenditure.

Cloud-based systems are accessible from anywhere, are mostly unaffected by power outages, and are easy to scale. They are also the ideal solution if a large portion of your workforce is working remotely. The Cloud can offer an array of business benefits, but it also comes with risks, therefor careful implementation is needed.

“For many companies, the business benefits of Cloud migration are self-explanatory. However, if they don’t follow a well-planned Cloud adoption process, Cloud migrations can run into unexpected costs or security compromises,” advises Charl Ueckermann, CEO at AVeS Cyber Security.

The Cloud adoption process of assessment, planning, adoption, and optimisation highlights inherent risks to consider throughout the Cloud migration journey. This process assists organisations in taking a holistic approach, where teams can take on what they can handle while maintaining alignment with the overall business strategy and long term goals.

“As with all online processes, it is essential to plan for data security concerns. Additionally, the costs of Cloud usage can quickly skyrocket if organisations go in blindly. Keep in mind that every online service and feature that is activated bears a cost on Cloud platforms,” says Ueckermann, who was recently involved with a significant Cloud migration project in the financial services sector.

“In competitive, data-driven industries like financial services, the Cloud has a big role to play in optimising business operations. A successful migration can have a significant impact on the business. Still, the challenge is to ensure the realisation of Cloud benefits while establishing and maintaining full cost visibility.”

Start with readiness assessment

“A great start to Cloud migration is to initially conduct a full Business Readiness Assessment, a well-defined Future State Analysis as well as a Business Impact Analysis. These are all done to understand and address strategic questions, including operational costs, workforce productivity, acceptable downtime, and technical infrastructure.”

“We look at the current business readiness to see what information is ready for migration and what isn’t fit for the Cloud. We also analyse the client’s needs, business objectives, and overall migration goals to ensure the migration would be future-fit,” says Ueckermann.

Before migrating to the Cloud, businesses should get a view of their organisation’s current capabilities and future needs. It’s also critical for companies to think about the impact of the changes on their customers and not only on their operations, advises Ueckermann.

“Thorough, upfront assessments provide a foundation for the planning and road-mapping of the migration. Once the assessment phase is complete, a detailed roadmap is constructed to provide a proper solutions framework for Cloud migration. A roadmap should be holistic, highlight the business’s strategic Cloud goals, and specifically address risk mitigation and Cloud cost management initiatives,” says Ueckermann.

“As part of the Cloud adoption process, a series of workshops should be hosted to prepare the client’s technical as well as cross-functional teams.”

“Risk Management forms a big part of the workshops and involve details around data loss prevention, rights management services, identity, and access management, continuity, and Cloud security services,” he says.

Security design is vital

When moving data to the Cloud, security design is of utmost importance as it lays the foundation on how a business can safeguard itself against unauthorised and malicious access attempts, as well as protect the organisation from inflating Cloud usage costs.

“These workshops also address the management of Cloud-related costs, where Cloud spend limits are discussed and agreed on for different departments in the organisation. From a management accounting perspective, different business areas should be accountable for and manage what they spend. On the same software licence, different budget limits can be set and adjusted.”

After implementing the Cloud platform, there are tools available to ensure that companies can manage their Cloud spend in real-time, with enough granularity to track usage and costs in every department. Tracking is incredibly useful in managing financial risk in the Cloud and gives you full visibility of your Cloud spend.

“A costing dashboard is also a great tool for helping the client’s Cloud project owner keep track of Cloud costs and communicate limits to department heads accordingly. The dashboard helps organisations to monitor, manage, and maintain Cloud spend and neutralises the financial risks of Cloud migrations,” says Ueckermann.

Monitoring Cloud usage

In addition to visibility on Cloud spending, it is necessary to implement a monitoring process to review Cloud usage. The project team can then monitor whether the business units are using the platforms as designed for. The monitoring process gives a good indication of whether business benefits are delivered swiftly. It enables the organisation to execute the defined roadmap while making changes where necessary and as highlighted by the usage data received.

“After the implementation process, success is determined by the individual users of the system. Effective change management and engaging end-user training are essential components of Cloud migration projects,” highlights Ueckermann.

“Companies also don’t have to do everything themselves. By partnering with their Cloud security service providers, clients benefit not only from having an implementation partner but also from receiving focused managed services to optimise their Cloud usage after project completion. Although the responsibility to check Cloud costs lies with the client, managed services can offer institutions peace of mind to operate freely, knowing that a partner is looking after their Cloud costs and security measures,” he says.

“This strategic approach assists organisations with a less stressful Cloud adoption process, leading to fewer unexpected costs and more realised benefits,” he concludes.

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