Headed for Data Migration? Get Ready to Mitigate Risk
Heading for the cloud? You’re not alone. Companies worldwide are tapping cloud services — everything from software to infrastructure, security and even unified communications. According to Gartner, for example, cloud-based office systems will account for 33 percent of the market by 2017 and are expected to jump to 60 percent by 2022. Despite a maturing cloud market, however, data migration isn’t without risk. Here’s a look at four real-world challenges and essential steps for a smooth mitigation.
1. The New Network
The cloud comes with big benefits, including instant access to on-demand services and freedom from the continual cycle of hardware upgrades, maintenance and replacement. What providers and cloud pundits don’t mention, however, is a possible limiting factor: your network.
Think of it like this: The cloud is a massive, pristine lake of untapped potential. Closer to home, you’re just trying to put out IT fires as quickly as possible and keep the whole place from burning down. Moving to the cloud gives you access to the lake, but you can only pump in water at the speed of your network. What you’re looking for here is the bandwidth of a fire hose, not a drinking straw; if your internal network or the last-mile connection from your Internet service provider (ISP) isn’t up to par, you’ve got a problem.
Best bet? Test your local network devices, bandwidth and ISP services before making a move.
2. Data Integrity
When it comes to integrity and data migration, you’ve got two problems: destruction and theft. As noted by Modern Healthcare, for example, a cloud-based backup service recently saw more than 1.5 million patient records breached. And what happens if your provider experiences a hardware failure or is on the receiving end of a malicious attack? The best-case scenario here is that you’re able to recover most of your data and make things right with affected stakeholders and consumers. Worst case? You’re starting from scratch, with customers and government compliance agencies both looking for answers.
Solving this data migration problem means drafting a beefed-up service-level agreement (SLA) that lays out specific data management and security responsibilities for both provider and cloud customer, along with any penalties or consequences. While this doesn’t guarantee total protection, it’s a better bet than moving your data and simply hoping for the best.
What happens if your cloud provider fails? Maybe it’s a natural disaster or a power outage. Maybe the company has a rough year and simply goes offline one day, taking all your data with it. As noted by Small Biz Trends, the fear of losing data is one of the top reasons companies are reluctant to make a cloud move. It makes sense; data is a fundamental resource and losing access means losing everything.
To lower the risk of total disaster, make sure you’ve always got a set of backup data close at hand. This could be through a secondary cloud provider, using local stacks or even data stored on a physical medium such as tape. Bottom line? Before you pack up and move, make a backup.
4. Data Migration and the Employee
The last big threat in a data migration? Your employees. In most cases, they’re not acting maliciously but making mistakes thanks to a combination of increased technology and limited knowledge of long-term network repercussions. It goes like this: Companies make the move to the cloud and also spin up a decent bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program to support employee work habits. Employees with access to the new cloud network download third-party apps from reputable (and not-so-reputable) sources and then use this software to manipulate data.
The problem here doesn’t rest with the basic functions of these apps but what they bring along for the ride: anything from Trojans to spyware to simple code vulnerabilities that put your network at risk. Cloud Tech News recommended creating a security wrapper around employees to protect their actions across devices and locations rather than trying to amp up perimeter defense.
Data migration comes with real risk — and commensurate rewards. Get familiar, take the right steps and only move when you’re good and ready.