By: Kamala Kannan Subramani, IT Manager at ManageEngine
If you're currently questioning whether it makes sense to migrate to the cloud, you are not alone. Many businesses grapple with this issue. The appropriateness of a cloud migration depends on many factors, including your industry sector, business model, estimated growth rate, and the nature of the data your enterprise collects. Moreover, if you do decide to move to the cloud, timing can be quite important.
One side of the coin: keeping your IT infrastructure on-premises
To be sure, there is a strong case to be made for remaining on-premises. Depending on the size of your company and the nature of your business, on-prem may be the prudent approach. If you are monitoring thousands of devices and generating a substantial amount of logs, it is safer to run an agent on premises. Alternatively, you could run a gateway on prem and send your logs to the cloud later.
From a security standpoint, it's important to consider data privacy laws. Failure to comply with these laws can result not only in substantial fines, but also long-lasting damage to your business' reputation.
Although many cloud providers make assurances that your data will remain compliant with industry regulations, it can be worrisome to put your faith in a cloud provider. If you work in an industry with highly sensitive data, such as healthcare, financial services, or higher education, you need to be cognizant of data protection laws, such as SOX, HIPAA, GDPR, and CCPA.
For companies currently contemplating cloud migration, you might not want to send all of your software there in one fell swoop. For security reasons, endpoint management software and access and identity management tools are usually some of the last solutions companies move to the cloud. After all, if an endpoint management tool is hacked, it could expose the data from thousands of devices.
Custom applications, network dependencies, and cost concerns
Be sure to consider the nature of your applications. Applications with a lot of customization—especially those related to supply chain management and data management—are frequently kept on-premises because they're tougher to migrate. For these types of apps, it can be difficult to keep the application schema in sync during the migration process. Certain applications have network dependencies and need to be connected to various databases and servers, which can make cloud migration difficult.
Of course, if you cannot encrypt the data in your legacy applications, it's definitely not safe to take those to the cloud.
In regard to costs, if you're a large enterprise running a substantial amount of logs, it can be nearly twice as expensive to run your IT tools on the cloud. For a particularly data intensive organization with test environments and hundreds of machines, cloud migration can be especially pricey.
The other side of the coin: the case for cloud migration
Again, whether it makes sense to operate in the cloud or on-premises totally depends on the nature of your business. If you run a small, fast-growing company, and you're looking to test something for a few weeks, operating on the cloud is a good option.
Additionally, if you are experiencing a rapid increase in traffic to one of your nascent applications, the cloud is great because it provides flexibility and an ability to scale on the fly. If you don't know exactly how quickly your company is going to grow, it helps to have the "pay for what you need" models provided by cloud entities.
Geographic concerns and cost issues
In addition to the scalability and operational agility that the cloud provides, it also allows your employees to work from anywhere. If you're looking to expand your business geographically, you can migrate to the cloud and avoid setting up a multi-region infrastructure.
For smaller companies that don't already have an IT infrastructure in place, it can be much cheaper to operate in the cloud.
If you're looking to make the move to the cloud, timing is key; companies often decide to migrate during the data center contract renewal period.
As mentioned before, certain cloud providers offer assurances that your data will be safe and in compliance with various regulations. Lastly, after migrating to the cloud, you will no longer have to worry about server maintenance, as you'll be able to operate with few, if any in-house servers.
Cloud migration is great for fast-growing start-ups looking to scale quickly; the flexibility and operational agility that cloud provides can be great, especially if you don't know how much traffic your applications are likely to garner down the road.
For more established companies, it's important to think about the industry regulations you face, as well as the amount of sensitive data you store, and the number of custom applications you have to migrate.
From a cost standpoint, it really depends on whether you have an existing infrastructure in place. If you have not already invested in servers and data centers of your own, moving to the cloud will likely be cheaper. Lastly, operating from the cloud offers geographic advantages as well.
All that said, it is not a simple decision, so be sure to take all of these variables into consideration before you rush to the cloud.