5 steps to take before moving a client to the cloud

As more of our MSP partners look to move their clients to cloud services, we’ve been discussing the best steps to take during the migration process. If you haven’t moved a client to the cloud yet, here’s our list of must dos:

Clearly define what you’re moving.

There is nothing worse than getting into a project and being on the wrong page with the client. Set expectations early as to what you’re migrating to the cloud and what will be left behind. You don’t want the client to be surprised when they still have a server or two floating around because you weren’t clear on what was actually being moved.

Access.

Clients need to understand that they will now be utilizing their Internet connection for information access. This connection is always important, but with a move to the cloud, it becomes mission critical for their access. You also need to evaluate how much bandwidth they have. If you’re moving a server that your client is using to access large files, make sure they have the bandwidth. You don’t want to be left trying to push the proverbial watermelon through a straw.

Backups.

Some cloud providers include data backup, some don’t. Understand what your cloud provider is offering. You don’t want to move your client to the cloud and then find out they no longer have good backups of their data. The cloud is great for data redundancy, but hardware redundancy can’t protect someone from answering “yes” to the “Are you sure you want to delete this file” dialog. You’ll also want to understand and communicate to your client how data restores will work. Most clients haven’t thought about how long it might take them to get their two terabytes of information back from one of the “cloud backup” companies, and it can vary wildly. Make sure you’re on the right side of this one.

How to get out of the cloud?

Hopefully your client will love their cloud provider and will stay there for years. But just in case, always be prepared to explain to the client how they might move off the cloud, or to another cloud provider. Before moving anything to the cloud, have a clear plan of how to get it back. Understand what format the machines will come back in or if you can even get something like that from your provider. It’s always good to understand this with any project that involves putting your data on somebody else’s equipment.

How to support the cloud?

Supporting systems in the cloud might be new to you, or you might be a seasoned professional in cloud support. Either way, you’ll want to ensure that you and your team understand the support channels of your provider. Getting help when you need it can mean keeping a client happy and trusting in your abilities and recommendations. Knowing the key pieces of the solution and what different factors like bandwidth and latency can do to a cloud solution is important to being successful in your cloud implementations.

As with any project, you should plan well, and have good clear paths for any decisions along the way. You’ll certainly come across different hurdles and have the opportunity to refine your process as you complete more migrations. The important piece is to have a process. Without it you could end up losing valuable time, or worse yet, a valued client.