Switching Cloud Providers: How To Avoid a Migration Migraine

By Dan Nichols on 23rd February, 2016.

Thinking About a Switch?

Most businesses will have some form of cloud computing strategy; particularly those in the online, or Software as a Service (SaaS) field. Despite this, many IT managers may still be reluctant to switch providers. Why? Perhaps the overriding reason is a fear of the unknown. But, as an integral part of business performance, it’s important to understand your options when it comes to different hosting providers. And having a good idea of the realities of changing suppliers can only stand you in good stead.

Face Your Fears

We’ve all been there. You’re not happy with a current supplier, whatever service they may be offering. Yet the idea of making that move just seems like too much hassle. This has never been truer than in the case of moving from one cloud host to another.

As such a vital business asset, there’s a certain amount of pressure on the IT team to get it right. This can often create a “better the devil you know” scenario. Add to this worries over dual billing during the migration from one provider to another, and the idea of extra strain on a busy IT team’s workload, and the reasons for staying with your current provider start to stack up.

Then there’s the prospect of losing precious business hours, or sales through application downtime. After all, no company wants to be offline. The big question is, does migrating cloud providers really have to be a headache?

Start by Considering the Reasons for Migrating

It’s all too easy to prioritise the reasons against a change. But what about the arguments for?

In our experience, these can range from poor customer care, to platform performance and availability issues. In real terms, a website or cloud application that’s consistently going offline, doesn’t reflect well on your brand. Crucially, it can also cost you money, and lose custom. If any of this sounds familiar, then there’s a very good business case for looking into alternative hosting solutions.

Cost, can and should also be a big motivator for looking into other options. Aside from potentially losing business through an unreliable service, there’s the inevitable costs attached to using cloud hosting in the first place, so ensuring you have a highly available and secure hosting solution for the best price, makes good business sense.

Our Top Tips to Mitigate Those Migration Fears

Once you’ve decided it’s worth looking into other suppliers, the next step is getting a plan in place. Taking time to research your options is just one part of it. There also needs to be a high level of confidence in the host you’re moving to.

The key things to look out for in a new hosting provider include:

1. Clear communication before, and during your migration, and throughout your relationship. If this isn’t evident from the word go, then steer clear and don’t take the leap.

2. Evidence of technically capable hosting, and competent management of your bespoke needs.

3. Impeccable planning from the provider themselves. Without this you may experience a bumpy ride before getting up and running, and this lack of forethought doesn’t bode well for future challenges or problems. Planning calls should take place at the beginning, and throughout the process, to ensure all points are covered.

4. A good understanding of your application. An expert in cloud infrastructure and customer care will take time to get to know your business, ensuring a smooth migration.

5. Upfront information on downtime. This again, is very much about the new host providing a plan. For instance, is downtime unavoidable due to the services that are being migrated? If so, how can its business impact be minimised? Many companies choose to migrate out of business hours for this reason.

6. Do they offer free migration periods? Some cloud hosting providers will offer this to spread the workload, sidestepping the added stress the migration can place on the IT department, and eliminating the dual billing issue at the same time.

7. Are they an established company? Choosing a new provider that’s financially stable is a key consideration. After all, if the company goes into administration, it can cause significant problems with your data.

8. Last but by no means least, it’s also worth having a good look into customer references for your prospective new provider, preferably from within your field, before making any big decisions. These testimonials can really make all the difference when it comes to scoping out a supplier’s strengths, and expertise in your area of business.

Managing the Move From Your Side

Just those eight, key considerations will provide clarity of thought when you start your search. But you also need to get organised from your end to avoid any complications or hiccups along the way.

This includes:

1. Being aware of your current contract status. For example, do you need to give notice, or is your contract rolling?

2. Think about your customers. They may need to know about the changes.

3. Is your application provider dependant? Some apps need to be altered to function on a different cloud infrastructure. Those that have been developed with dependencies on the AWS platform are just one example. If in doubt, check with your developers for peace of mind.

In Summary

It’s true that there’s a bit of legwork involved in switching cloud services, but a good provider will always keep the transition smooth, transparent and make the process easy for their client.

The most important part from a customer point of view, is having the right information to hand to make informed decisions. By using the quick guide above, you can feel confident that you’ve researched your options thoroughly, helping you to choose a provider that creates lasting benefit to your business in the long run.

With the right approach and a good provider on board, selecting a new cloud service should be anything but a headache. So make sure to switch to a company that adds value to your business from the very start. That way you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ll get that level of care and attention from day one.

Do you have more advice, tips or first-hand experience to offer readers? Please share in the comments below.

Dan Nichols

Chief Technical Officer

As Secura's CTO, Dan is responsible for the team that design, build and maintain our cutting edge cloud hosting infrastructure. He is also the dishwasher police - stack it or else.

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