If your company is like many in the life sciences industry, you have plans to migrate to the cloud. Today’s public-cloud options provide more-predictable infrastructure costs, stronger cybersecurity, and greater flexibility to innovate and grow.
But are you positioned to maximize the returns on your cloud investment? Or are you about to stumble into common pitfalls that can result in business interruptions or a cloud infrastructure that doesn’t adapt to changing needs?
Here’s guidance to ensure you’re making informed decisions at each stage of your move to the cloud:
1. Document your infrastructure needs.
Running an IT environment in a public cloud isn’t the same as operating an on-premises data center. You need to inventory your existing environment and understand how it will map to a cloud deployment. When you consider how the differences will affect connectivity, application availability, and customer and market data, you can set requirements and avoid disruptions.
Bear in mind that you’re unwinding an on-prem infrastructure that accumulated over positive company change and growth. Understanding all system and application integrations will help dictate what you can “lift and shift” to the cloud and what needs to be newly deployed as cloud-native.
These assessments will also point to whether you want to learn the ins and outs of cloud infrastructure yourself or work with an experienced managed services provider (MSP). There’s value in an MSP that offers proven methodologies and migration packages.
2. Carefully consider cybersecurity and compliance.
Security and compliance are major reasons companies have been hesitant about cloud adoption. Many assume their on-prem datacenter is more secure than a public cloud. But today, that’s no longer true. Most data centers are at least as exposed as any cloud environment. And cloud providers such as Microsoft and AWS invest vast sums of money in protecting client workloads.
Still, protection of workloads and data is ultimately your responsibility, not your cloud provider’s. And there are ways you should approach security more conservatively than a cloud provider might.
For instance, Microsoft and AWS address security and compliance at the end of the migration process. That’s not adequate for the life sciences. No life sciences firm should make decisions about its cloud environment or even think about starting the migration process without first establishing a robust framework for security and compliance.
Again, think about whether you want to learn from experience – or rely on an MSP that already has experience. A trusted partner can confirm the security of cloud configurations and make sure you have a layered approach that covers data, connections, endpoints, and more.
3. Home in on your cloud migration strategy.
Once you understand your infrastructure and cybersecurity needs, you’re ready to finalize your migration strategy. Now is when you can decide whether you want to lift and shift or go with a cloud-native solution stack. While lift and shift is simpler upfront, it doesn’t allow you to take full advantage of cloud capabilities such as built-in analytics and artificial intelligence.
This is also a good time to consider how the migration will affect users – both employees and customers. Choosing between existing or cloud-native applications based on cost, for example, isn’t wise if user experience suffers. Involve stakeholders from throughout the business to be sure your cloud decisions will deliver the business advantages you expect.
4. Forecast costs and plan for implementation.
The cloud shifts IT infrastructure from CapEx to OpEx. There are advantages to that, but it’s a new way of thinking about IT for many CFOs and COOs. It’s important to look at cost management before and during cloud migration and keep in in mind that the cost of cloud operations will vary as your workloads and resource use change. Optimizing workloads upfront can help avoid paying for more cloud capacity than needed.
Cost forecasting is one reason your firm might consider a cloud proof of concept before your actual migration. If you decide on this approach, make sure the proof of concept is robust enough to reflect your real-world environment. Conduct workload tests using a realistic quantity of mock data to confirm assumptions about performance and resource use.
All these phases of cloud migration involve expertise that many life sciences firms simply don’t have. Your cloud transformation is likely to go much faster and smoother with the guidance of a trusted partner. Look for an MSP with breadth of cloud experience and depth of familiarity with financial services. Also seek out a partner with the stature and stability to handle all your cloud needs, so you don’t have to worry about handoffs and accountability. With the right support, your move to the cloud can yield optimal results and position your business for better innovation and success.
Rich Itri is ECI’s Chief Innovation Officer. Rich has over 22 years of IT executive experience, spending his entire career managing IT, identifying strategies, business opportunities and new technologies Prior to joining ECI, Rich was Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer for PJT Partners, a boutique investment bank, Principal and Chief Information Officer for Sky Road and held Chief Information Officer positions at Arrowhawk Capital Partners and Arbalet Capital Partners. Over the years, Rich has developed and managed innovative, business aligned platforms, that drive revenue and operational efficiencies. Rich holds positions on several Advisory Boards and volunteers his time to help non-profits leverage technology.