So, you have decided you want to move your IT infrastructure to the Cloud. For the purpose of this conversation, we are going to assume that you ran all the numbers and moving to the Cloud makes good business sense.
So having made this decision we now need a road map to execute the move. The first thing to realize is there are four parts to your IT infrastructure: Systems, Networking, Applications and Security. If you have a typical office, these have grown over time as your company has grown and matured. And, it has evolved with different folks at the helm of deciding what you needed, what was purchased, and how it was all deployed.
It is almost a certainty that just when you think you have completed your migration to the Cloud that someone will come along and say, “I don’t have my…( program).” The reason for this is that someone is the only person in the organization that knows that program exists and they have been using it, updating it, and working around all it quirks for the last five to ten years. And you don’t know.
The next thing to write on your piece of paper is…
On the systems side of the equation, you are going to make a list of all the Operating systems running in your office. Once you have completed this, you are going to have to determine if the systems you have in place are going to operate with the systems you are going to utilize in the Cloud. Are you going to be moving to Citrix, VM Ware, or HyperV to access your applications that will now be running in the Cloud? The system that is of most importance here is the desktop. If your company is like most, you will have some different operating systems depending on the age of your machine. Things that get overlooked here are the oddball machine that is running an old OS or even Linux for a specific application. Check with you Cloud provider on what system software they need to run your Cloud Experience.
This is the most important part of your journey and where the biggest Gotcha’s exist. Make a list of all your network devices, Modems, Router, Switches, Access Points, Scanners, Printers, Mobile Devices, and the most important of all- that is often overlooked during this processes- the phone system. Questions that need to be answered are...
Is the Modem provided by my ISP acting as my Router and or my Wi-Fi access? In many cases, it is not acting as your Router, but it is providing Wi-Fi Access. When you move to the Cloud, your provider will probably insist on installing their own Router (or reconfigure your existing Router) and ask you to stop using the ISP Wi-Fi (They will disable it) as that is where a lot of hacks occur. So if this is the case and you do not have a Wi-Fi Access Point, then you will need to add that to your list of purchases.
Start by logging into your Router and getting all the WAN IP information. Your Cloud provider will need this to build the VPN tunnels between their Data Center and your office. Is your Router handing out your IP address to your Network devices or is that being done by your In-house server? Many times this is known only by the current IT person. During the migration, if the Server was handling this then the Router that is installed or replaced will be reconfigured to take over this function.
This can be a hornet’s nest. Some IT folks put in Managed Switches that have their ports assigned to specific devices. So, many times, if the documentation does not exist then the first thing needed here is to create the documentation. For large networks that have layered security, this is a good practice. For most offices with less than 200 devices, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. So for this exercise, we will assume you have Managed
Build your documentation using tools such as Visio to get a visual perspective on the interconnectivity of devices. In many organizations today the phones are wired with the same cables as the computers. So, one cable will supply connectivity to the network for your Phone and also LAN connectivity to your PC. If you have multiple devices, such as the scanner, printers, bar code readers, etc. on your desk you are going to have a switch on the other side of your phone that supplies connectivity to all your devices. This needs to be carefully documented. This is all part of the hornet’s nest that can come back to cause many issues the day you go live.
The thing to remember about your new network inside your office is that it will be “flat’ rather than have a hierarchy of devices. This is because the major portion of your security will now be handled inside the Cloud Providers Data Center. However, if you don’t understand the connectivity to the outside world getting your devices to communicate with the Data Center can be a nightmare.
The thing to remember about access point is they are the best way for the bad guys to get onto your network. Now, with the right setup you can install a Wi-Fi network and provide your self with a reasonable amount of security. The phrase here is reasonable. Now you are going to the Cloud you need to put a lot of thought into whether you actually need Wi-Fi. If you decide the answer to this is yes. Call in the professionals and get your Wi-Fi on and isolated network that provides the internet only.
Scanners and Printers
So the adage “The Cloud doesn’t work because you can’t print” is pretty much a thing of the past. However, setting up printing and scanning can be an issue, especially if you do not have a flat network. The thing about the Cloud setup is, when you get through moving all your IT to the Cloud you don’t have an Internal Domain Controller to manage your authentication. So authentication is done across a VPN tunnel. If you have “hops” along the way then getting that authenticating can be an issue. This is where providing yourself a visual view of your network will pay off.
The first thing to remember about Mobile devices is that they are a lot like Wi-Fi. I know what you are asking yourself right now... “Why is this all such a big deal now? I thought going to the Cloud increased my security?” In a quick answer, it does, and it doesn’t. It does in that it makes hacking into your systems a lot more difficult from the outside world.
It does in that it makes hacking into your systems a lot more difficult from the outside world. It doesn’t because once you get access as a hacker, and now using someone’s account, the world is your oyster: Most users have access to all the applications and files servers- this since the cloud is the best collaborative computing environment there is. So now is the time to decide what and who has access through mobile devices. I am talking more than email here. So create a list of all the mobile devices around your systems and start thinking. Which ones can I, and should I, eliminate?
So, we have now got a pretty good idea of how our network is put together. But wait. Isn’t the phone system on our network? This is the time to really delve into the answer. Some phone systems just use the same cabling. Some use Hosted VoIP, and some use a combination of PBX and Hosted VoIP. So what do you have? Let me give you some advice. Do not start your move until you have figured this out. The best way to start is to log into your current router and document everything. A couple of hours now will save you days later. If you are solving these issues later on, then you are losing business, and aggravating your customers and employees. After you have documented all the Router settings call in your phone supplier/support and find out what you have missed.
So what do you have? Let me give you some advice. Do not start your move until you have figured this out. The best way to start is to log into your current router and document everything. A couple of hours now will save you days later. If you are solving these issues later on, then you are losing business, and aggravating your customers and employees. After you have documented all the Router settings call in your phone supplier/support and find out what you have missed.
This is kind of the easy one. Make a list of all your applications and then gather up the Serial Numbers, product numbers, Versions, account numbers, website login credentials and document all this to send to your Cloud Vendor. Now, go to every PC in your office and find what you have missed. In doing literally hundreds of Migrations to the Cloud, there is always that one PC that has an application that only the user knows about. And guess what? It is the most crucial.
Now, go to every PC in your office and find what you have missed. In doing literally hundreds of Migrations to the Cloud, there is always that one PC that has an application that only the user knows about. And guess what? It is the most crucial.
Now that you have made the decision to move to the Cloud, your concerns for security have been significantly reduced. Your Cloud provider is now responsible for making sure you comply with bodies such as HIPPA and GLBA. You are ultimately responsible, but you pass this on to your Cloud Supplier by having a “Business Continuity Agreement” completed. Just an FYI you will need this agreement completed with everybody that has some responsibility for protecting your Data on their system. A lot of Cloud suppliers rent Data Center space. You will need an agreement with both the Data Center and the Cloud Supplier.
You still have due diligence to do on your part to ensure your systems remain secure. If you can’t live without an Access Point, get it put on an isolated “guest” network. You are going to have to come up with written policies and procedures around “local” desktop security. Remember the discussion around Mobile Devices. They make life easy when it comes to getting things done; the downside is they put your whole entire enterprise at risk. Again, you are going to need documented procedures and someone to make sure they are being followed.
I’m ready to move to the Cloud... but not quite. Take all the information you have gathered and open up Excel. Create a spreadsheet page for every group. Now take every device and every piece of information and enter it into the Excel spreadsheet.
Next, you are going to have to determine the hierarchy of each action item to be taken and each device and application to be moved, updated, changed, etc. Some Cloud providers will do this for you. Other will make it a joint effort, and other still will say, “Send us the info. The best results are achieved when it is done as a joint effort.
Now as part of this spreadsheet you are going to include things like “to be completed by.” What you are actually doing here is building your Project Management document. If you have access to Project Management software, then use that in place of Excel. In the end, you will have, depending on the size of your organization, 4-600 detailed action items. The last action item for every line item should be a complete system and applications Test and a Q&A check box.
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