Source: Enterprise Times
Author: Mark Rochester
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced legions of employees to work remotely. This shift has highlighted the importance of cloud technology to spur digital transformation and enable business continuity. Cloud technologies have proven to be integral to helping companies continue operations and build long-term business while employees work remotely. Given the uncertainty we face in the year ahead, now is the time for companies to leverage cloud solutions and managed services on a grand scale.
At this year’s Microsoft Inspire digital event, the Redmond giant identified four top partner priorities for MSPs and IT service providers to meet market needs. These priorities call for innovative solutions and services to enhance remote work, business continuity, secure environments and cloud migrations. At the heart of these priorities is the successful remote migration of data.
How remote migrations help
Remote migrations can usher in a digital transformation, all while a company’s workforce is working from home. It is possible to securely complete remote migrations while adhering to social-distancing guidelines because the IT work does not require onsite labor. The benefits of remotely migrating data are many. For companies with on-premises IT systems, moving their data and workloads to the cloud provides employees a greater ability to work remotely. It removes the confines of needing to connect to an office server or VPN.
After all the company’s employee identities are moved to the cloud, remote migration projects enable companies to implement digital upgrades for email, workplace collaboration and systems monitoring. This can lead to enhanced operational efficiencies, cost savings and scalabilities. In times when organizational resilience is essential, such opportunities must not be overlooked.
Enabling companies to work remotely
MSPs and IT service providers can play a critical role in helping businesses enable company-wide remote operations. The cloud allows companies to mobilize remote work plans that aren’t possible for on-premises systems. They can deploy workplace collaboration technologies such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Implementing these technologies helps companies improve communication, collaboration and engagement among their workforce and external customers. Additional workloads and resources can be moved to the cloud as well, where employees can access resources whenever they need them to boost productivity and maintain business continuity.
Improving company-wide security protections
Security is, of course, a leading consideration. Thanks to network updates and routine monitoring of potential threats, the cloud offers greater protections than on-premises infrastructures. In the cloud, data is protected from loss and damage from onsite vulnerabilities such as power outages, natural disasters or fires.
Moving to the cloud allows companies to employ stronger protections. Single sign-on enables users to log in with a single ID and password to securely access multiple applications across their company. By reducing logins to a single set of credentials, the risk of attack is significantly minimized. This also allows an IT team to easily secure sensitive data by adding or removing employee access or setting role-based permissions from a single location.
In addition, on-premises upgrades can be very costly. For example, if companies are upgrading from Exchange 2010 to Exchange 2019, they are responsible for the hardware and the incremental upgrades such as patching. The cloud requires much less management and upgrades can be automated so that labor-intensive implementations can be avoided. Companies control what they spend and have the ability to ensure they’re paying only for the resources that they use.
Maintaining business continuity in uncertain times
Remote operations mean more flexibility for your company and employees. Once all employee identities and email are moved to a cloud suite, enhanced cloud technologies are available, which are not available on-premises. Workplace collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack or Zoom enable your remote workforce to continue operations with minimal interruption.
Via these platforms, employees can continue to communicate, collaborate and engage with co-workers and customers from anywhere, enhancing business continuity. This flexibility can lead to increased overall productivity, with the technological infrastructure in place for employees to effectively work remotely both now and in the future.
Tips for approaching remote migrations
Best practices for successful remote migrations include a few simple planning tips:
Identify migration components: Before acting, decide what components your company needs to migrate. Some companies may choose to clean files and delete unnecessary archives. Other companies may choose to move all their data first and then re-evaluate in their new environment. For instance, compliance archiving is much easier to manage in the cloud. The great thing about modern cloud migration technology is that companies can choose either scenario.
Assess potential hurdles with an eye toward risk aversion: It helps to view your project holistically. First, determine immediate challenges, and then consider the counsel of a partner. Don’t be afraid to enlist help. It will ensure a smoother process.
Migrate mailboxes first: Prioritize email when remotely migrating data. This maintains communication during the migration. Once it’s complete, you can determine what other data or workloads need to be moved – such as Microsoft Teams, groups or other workloads.
Be mindful of bandwidth: A significant number of organizations are working remotely, and usage of SharePoint Online, OneDrive and similar cloud technologies and services has skyrocketed during peak daytime hours. Microsoft and Google have announced throttling to some cloud services – limiting simultaneous service requests to prevent an overuse of resources. They have indicated that throttling is reduced during evenings and weekends to allow for migrations. Smart MSPs are cognizant of peak-hour schedules. They can conduct migration projects during a window that allows swift execution and efficiency for a seamless migration.
Leveraging remote migrations for future success
The pandemic has dramatically changed the way we work. We’ll likely continue to navigate its impacts in the months ahead. The good news is that remote migrations can help improve your business operations and enable large-scale remote work sooner than you think.
The biggest benefit is the business outcome that companies will gain from moving to the cloud. It will enhance remote work and establish secure environments, resulting in business continuity and future success.