What is a Cloud Exit Strategy?
Over the years technology has gained enormous traction within the B2B and B2C sectors, with cloud software reinventing the way businesses handle their operations and processes.
ERP systems, like NetSuite, have provided users with cloud services, giving organizations that competitive edge. Therefore, it may come as a surprise to suddenly be bombarded by news about cloud exit plans.
It doesn’t mean doom and gloom with cloud computing as it finds its downfall. It’s more focused than that. It’s about preparing for the future. There are many reasons why a company would move away from the cloud.
For example, they’d like to change ERP vendors or their current cloud ERP isn’t scaling with the business. Or perhaps internal changes have occurred, such as an acquisition, and cloud technology is no longer required.
Whatever the case is, it’s crucial for businesses to have a contingency plan in place should anything happen.
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Reasons To Exit The Cloud
Cloud repatriation, also known as “reverse migration”, is when a company moves away from the cloud and back to their own infrastructure.
This can include an on-premise system, a data center provider, or simply a different cloud vendor.
There are a variety of reasons why a company would exit the cloud.
At the beginning of any cloud migration, it is essential to have a plan in place. What are the company’s goals? What are you looking to accomplish with cloud technology?
Before any implementation, questions need to be asked and a set plan should be put into place.
One of the most common reasons a company might move away from the cloud is due to improper planning from the get-go.
If the implementation is a nightmare and leads to major operational disruptions, more cost in the long run, and less security, companies that experience a botched migration are sure to feel unsure about the cloud.
Like most things in life, there is a tiered scale to how much something will cost. Let’s take an enterprise resource planning software (ERP) as an example.
Depending on the needs of a company, the ultimate price is decided after the planning stage, which includes number of users, customizations, modules, and more.
Every once in a while, these costs can escalate since they’re hard to predict and are purely based on usage or other scalable changes. Companies have a hard time budgeting for these factors and end up going back to more traditional systems to stay in control of finances.
Having data security is a crucial concern among businesses looking to host confidential information on the cloud.
While the cloud is extremely secure, some companies have obligations to meet certain security requirements that perhaps are not within the offerings of cloud ERP vendors.
Additionally, there are companies whose data must be within a specific geographic location for legal and regulatory purposes. Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions don’t always have the necessary visibility of where data management resides.
Most companies have experienced technical problems when it comes to software. For organizations that have been scaling at an unprecedented rate, there comes a time when their current cloud infrastructure is unable to handle the growth and needs of the business.
In this case, a company will choose to migrate to another private cloud provider or make the decision to move operations back in-house.
It’s inevitable that there will be an outage when it comes to any technology. That being said, most cloud technologies ensure exceptional uptime.
When situations like this occur, businesses feel like they’ve lost control of their operations and data management. This might make them realize it’s time to go back to their own technology stack.
Or perhaps, a certain application or module that was specifically designed for a company is no longer compatible and an organization decides to move elsewhere.
Whether it’s compliance requirements, security, or performance, a company requires business continuity and will settle on the choice that gives them the most bang for their buck.
How To Prepare A Cloud Exit Strategy
When the time comes and the decision has been made to exit the cloud, a strategy is conducive to success.
So, how does a company prepare to leave the cloud? Here are a few cloud exit strategy examples to facilitate your next move.
During the planning phase of a reverse migration strategy, there are many things to consider.
First and foremost, budget. If you’re moving back to an on-premise solution, ensure that you have the allocated resources to support new staff, updated infrastructure, and network upgrades.
Without a budget in place, you risk ending up back to where you started: with new technology and a gap of operational opportunities.
During this phase, it’s also important to involve your team in the upcoming changes and prepare them for their new roles. The last thing you would want is to be stuck without adequate business processes due to lack of internal communication.
Organize Transition Period
To keep operations running smoothly throughout the transition period, it’s important to discuss with your cloud vendor a timeline of services before terminating outsourced applications.
Whether you’re moving cloud providers or moving away altogether, you require a grace period for both systems to ensure no issues arise and a system isn’t shut down prematurely.
This should also include a clause where the previous service provider continues to offer customer support until the end of the agreement.
Data, reports, applications - all of your pertinent information must be backed up. If it’s stored on the cloud, discuss with your provider on how you can back up data and subsequently migrate it over.
Options include: external storage, cloud snapshots, storage services, or databases.
When migrating data over, the most important factor to consider is compatibility with the new technology system. If a new software isn’t compatible, you may require a data convertor.
For large volumes of data, it is recommended to shop around for alternative data transfer services that can handle larger bundles of data.
Develop Contingency Plan
As the saying goes: Hope for the best, plan for the worst. This definitely carries over to technology. More often than not, software go-lives occur without a hitch. However, for that rare case - which may or may not be you - having a contingency plan can be a liferaft for your business.
Set up during the planning stage, discuss with your service providers and internal teams potential disruptions: power outages, network failures, data portability issues, incompatible platforms - anything is possible.
Establish with your service provider that should any issue arise they will keep the cloud-based infrastructure running until you’re successfully on the new platform.
Test, Test, Test
Last, but not least: test, test, test, and test again. Run checks, ensure there is no data corruption, and perform different syncs.
This will guarantee your new on-premise application is running smoothly and functioning as required.
The last thing you want to do is move away from your old system and end the cloud contract without testing and then run into problems.
For as long as you need, keep an analysis on your operations during the migration process and after. This will indicate whether or not your on-premise - or new platform - can handle the traffic as before.
Once tested to the best of your ability, you can contact your cloud provider and terminate the old system and enjoy your new software.