How to switch IT providers: A proven 3-stage process

We have all learned a considerable amount, both personally...

How to switch IT providers: A proven 3-stage process

How to switch IT providers: A proven 3-stage process

Change can be tough. But as a business owner, you know that transitions and difficult decisions are part of the growth process. And that’s where you find yourself now. You’re seriously thinking about switching IT providers because doing so could unlock your business’s potential.
But the whole switch seems overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you go about it? What should you look for in a new provider? You have so many questions and feel stuck. Not to worry. The whole process can be broken down into three stages: recognizing the warning signs, finding a new provider, and making the transition. Here’s how to change service providers.

Stage 1: Recognize the warning signs of a lousy provider

Do you really have a problem with your IT? Is it really necessary to switch services providers? Look for these red flags with your current MSP:
“Keep the lights on” mentality: If you feel like your provider does nothing more than keep the lights on or is simply taking your money, take this as a red flag. Telltale signs of this destructive mentality include slow response times, poor communication, and a lack of expertise and resources to resolve issues. Generally, if you feel like your business isn’t getting enough attention, you might want to switch IT support providers.
Low first-time fix rate: A high first-time fix rate means more efficiency, productivity, and lower operational costs. If you call your provider multiple times to fix the same problem or submit several support tickets for the same issue, your bottom line is paying the price. Start looking for a new provider.
Reactive support: Great IT providers are invisible. And when you have one, you’ll know it because you’ll rarely think about technology — it is out of sight, out of mind, running smoothly in the background. Hassle-free IT like this is a result of proactive support and preventative measures and maintenance. If your provider only responds to issues after they’ve occurred, you are not reaping the full benefits of having an effective IT provider.
Growth has flatlined: This red flag circles back to the first one on this list. Your IT provider should do far more than simply keep the lights on. Smooth IT and advanced technology should give your business a competitive advantage and serve as a launch pad for growth. If your provider isn’t offering advice to help you grow, you’re missing out on a key benefit that many MSPs offer.
Erratic budget: Does your budget fluctuate from month to month? Does it seem like you’re regularly slammed with a surprise bill? When you’re uncertain how much you’ll spend each month, frustration levels can rise fast — but it doesn’t have to be this way. Many MSPs offer a predictable, fixed monthly fee for their service.
Questionable security: Do you constantly see reminders to update your antivirus and operating systems? Are staff unaware of cyberthreats and how hackers infiltrate businesses? If you answered “yes” to either or both of these questions, your provider probably isn’t taking your business’s security seriously. A reputable IT provider will help protect your business with routine security updates, cybersecurity awareness training, a BCDR plan, and an incident response plan.
Lack of transparency: A good provider will talk straight with you. So if they’re reluctant to share documentation on your IT processes or how they manage your network, this is a big red flag because they could make leaving very difficult. If you’re in a situation like this, it’s better to switch IT providers sooner than later.

Stage 2: Find a new provider — 6 questions to ask potential new partners

Your first question shouldn’t be directed at potential providers, but rather yourself. In other words, you need to know what you want before you can find it. Which services do you need? Do you require help with compliance? Is it important that the provider can scale their support as you grow?
Once you’ve identified your needs, you should ask your potential providers the following questions:
1. What is your experience? This general question will evaluate potential providers’ competence, ability, and expertise, and should be followed up with the following:
2. How will you improve my business? This involves first telling providers about issues with your current MSP, the reasons you’re looking for a new one, and your business goals. Listen to how each potential provider would do things different than your present one and how they’d help you achieve your objectives.
3. What are your support response and resolution times? Do they offer 24/7 support? How quickly do they resolve tickets? A good IT provider should offer round-the-clock support and resolve your issues fast. However they answer this question, they should validate their words with guaranteed response times outlined in their contract and service level agreements.
4. What proactive measures do you take? This question helps you avoid providers who’d rather perform the bare minimum of maintenance than optimize your technology. So listen for the specific proactive measures they take. These should include routinely applying patches, regularly updating your technology, and consistently monitoring and maintaining your networks, systems, devices, and apps.
5. How will you protect my business from cyberthreats, disasters, and legal liabilities? Proactivity is more than just routine monitoring and maintenance. It should also include implementing cybersecurity precautions to protect your business, testing data backups, developing a BCDR plan, and ensuring your organization is in compliance with the latest industry regulations. An MSP that can implement these measures for your business will provide you with stability and help you avoid issues that could cause massive downtime, data loss, and fines.
6. What is your onboarding and offboarding process like? A good provider will have a process in place to create a smooth, headache-free transition. Part of this process means you should have minimum involvement so you can run your business with few disruptions. The new provider should also be transparent with their offboarding process — explaining exactly how it works and clarifying the terms. This prevents you from getting trapped in a bad contract.

Stage 3: Transition and switch service providers

The final stage of your information technology transition plan includes both offboarding with your old provider and onboarding with your new one. The below checklist and plan can help make the switch as seamless as possible:

Offboarding checklist

Review your contract’s cancellation clause: This is important because it may include a required notice period. Regardless, notifying your current provider of the switch 90 days in advance gives them enough time to coordinate a smooth transition with your new provider.
Document all facets of your network: For your new provider to do a good job, they must be aware of all the technology your current provider has been managing for you. This includes:
Coordinate the transition: Agree on a time when your old and new IT provider can simultaneously offboard and onboard you. Ensure it’s outside of your normal working hours so that downtime is minimal. Your old provider needs to be responsible for:

Onboarding plan

Now that you know what to do for your offboarding process, it’s time to onboard. Here, you also need a plan. As mentioned, your new provider should already have a managed services onboarding process in place to make the transition easy. However, you should take the following actions with them or your internal staff:
Get an IT audit: From answering the questions in Stage 2, you already know what you’re looking for from an MSP. But that doesn’t mean your new provider shouldn’t audit your IT. By doing so, they could identify some critical problems and make recommendations to save you money. An audit will also enable them to accurately price their service and help you uncover issues you may want to add to your transition services agreement checklist.
Set expectations: While the audit is being conducted, take some time to get on the same page with your new provider. Tell them your expectations for response times, downtime, goals, timeline for the onboarding process, etc. Get specific. If you expect your help desk calls to be returned in 10 minutes, let them know. The same goes for downtime. How much do you anticipate in your first six months? Talk with your provider about this so you can identify common goals to put in your service level agreements.
Also, don’t forget to mention the technology problems you’d like addressed. If your new provider understands your needs, they’ll be much more likely to fulfill them.
Communicate with your staff: Don’t leave your employees in the dark. Tell them who the new provider is, why you’ve made the switch, and how their daily work life will be affected. Also, get their feedback on your current IT environment. What do they think can be improved? What technology frustrations do they have?
The goal is to involve your employees in the transition process. Have them test new equipment, share their thoughts, and let them feel heard. If you do that, they’ll buy into the provider switch, which will help encourage a smooth transition process for your entire company.
Lastly, set your staff’s expectations, too. Explain the process for contacting the new provider for service and support. Tell them the agreed-upon response times and what they can expect from the new IT provider.

Are you ready to make the switch?

If you’ve read this far, you probably now realize that you need a new IT provider. You also see that getting one is not as scary as it seems. There is a proven IT transition plan process. Follow the stages above and take it one step at a time.
Just imagine how much better your life will be with a new provider! You’ll have faster technology, less downtime and IT frustrations, and more focus. Best of all, technology will no longer be a problem for your organization, but instead a unique advantage that promotes business growth. So what are you waiting for? Implement your IT transition plan today.
If you’re looking for a new provider, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re here to listen, understand your unique situation, and share how we can help. Contact us today.

What does the Microsoft Exchange Vulnerability mean for your Business?

Microsoft released an urgent security patch this week after...

What does the Microsoft Exchange Vulnerability mean for your Business?

Microsoft released an urgent security patch this week after detecting an exploit targeting on-prem Exchange Servers in a limited and strategic attack.

In a blog, Microsoft detailed that the vulnerability allowed for the installation of malware to facilitate long-term access to email and victim environments. Technical in nature, Microsoft is encouraging anyone running Exchange on-premise to patch and update their systems, but what does that mean for your business?

For anyone that is running their own email server, this is a large risk for the continuity of your business.

This exploit is so dangerous, that the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, (CISA), issued a rare emergency directive that requires all government networks to make these updates. These vulnerabilities give these hackers the ability to access and harm the entirety of your network, in addition to access to all email and calendar files.

So how do we stop it?

Please work with your IT Team, either internal or external to your organization, to determine if your security patches have been applied to limit exposure to this attack. For continued security, migrations to Office 365, Microsoft’s hosted email and application platform, can facilitate additional levels of security to harden your systems. These services were neither targeted or impacted by these 0-day exploits.

Need peace of mind around your IT environment? Talk with one of our consultants today and learn about how you can increase your security posture with Microsoft!

Need peace of mind around your IT environment?

Talk with one of our consultants today and learn about how you can increase your security posture with Microsoft!

FBI Urges Companies to Review Internal Networks

The idea of hacking into a water treatment plant to poison...

FBI Urges Companies to Review Internal Networks

The idea of hacking into a water treatment plant to poison the water supply for a whole city sounds like something out of a James Bond movie.

Unfortunately, that kind of nefarious tech scheme isn’t as sophisticated as it may sound.

In early February the FBI released a Private Industry Notification urging private companies, federal and government organizations to review their internal networks and access policies. The warning came after a hacker breached the network for the Oldsmar, Florida water treatment plant. Investigators identified the following weak links:


Using TeamViewer, the hacker connected to the oldsmar network, took control of the operator’s computer desktop, and changed the amounts of sodium hydroxide (lye) being added to the water. Though the action was immediately reversed, it sparked heated backlash from security professionals, many of whom deem TeamViewer a security nightmare. This may not be the platform to use if you’re managing critical or sensitive infrastructure- especially remote. 


Officials also discovered that the water treatment plant was running on Windows 7 which announced its official end-of-life in January of 2020. This means that their Windows 7 OS was unsupported and had not received security updates for over a year. The FBI strongly states that continuing to use this outdated OS is extremely dangerous. We couldn’t agree more.

Ready To Consider Partnering With A Managed Services Provider?

We Welcome The Opportunity To Lock Arms With You.

At IT Authorities the digital safety of your business is our top priority.

You can expect proactive cybersecurity updates to your digital infrastructure from us. Additionally, we provide support for robust security systems by offering:

End-User Training

Your employees are your first line of defense and yet the most vulnerable to a cyber attack. We train your team to identify threats and attacks ahead of time. 

Penetration Testing

We proactively perform penetration tests to validate security configurations, identify unknown vulnerabilities and provide recommended corrective actions. 

24/7/365 IT Monitoring

Our monthly security subscription provides you 24/7/365 monitoring by industry leading experts, as well as support and patching so that you’re never unprotected.  

Don’t become the victim in another Bond-like scenario.

Reach out to our friendly team of IT experts and let’s make sure you are protected for many years of success to come!

TechTalk: Co-Managed IT Arrangements

No matter what level of “co-managed” you’re looking...

TechTalk: Co-Managed IT Arrangements

Welcome to our new video series, TechTalk!

This week the CEO of IT Authorities, Jason Caras, breaks down the pro’s and con’s of co-managed IT arrangements. Some of our clients chose co-managed services because their internal IT departments need the assistance. Others are simply looking to fill a couple of gaps in skillsets. No matter what level of “co-managed” you’re looking for, IT Authorities can help.

Talk to one of our friendly IT experts today to learn more about our co-managed services. 

In the coming weeks we will be releasing more videos on various tech topics! Stay tuned. 

The Benefits of Co-Managed IT Services

As businesses scale in employee size and revenue, a need for...

The Benefits of Co-Managed IT Services

As businesses scale in employee size and revenue, a need for more inclusive IT solutions often arise. While there is always the option to completely outsource all IT operations, many organizations choose to keep dedicated in-house IT employees for strategic reasons. We understand that it’s not always as simple as “just outsource it”, which is why we focus on creating successful and supportive partnerships with internal IT departments.


To ensure that our co-managed IT services partnerships are successful, we emphasize:

  • Collaboration on clear expectations
  • Building trust through transparency
  • Working together toward a common goal
  • Earning your trust through our performance, month-over-month
Ready to consider partnering with a Managed Services Provider?
We welcome the opportunity to lock arms with you.

Your IT department can depend on IT Authorities’ vast toolbox of resources:


Support with Resources

  • Senior Network Engineers (CCIE)
  • Senior Systems Engineers
  • Level 1, 2, or 3 Support Engineers
  • Project Managers (PMP)

Support with Projects

  • Modern Workforce Digital Transformation
  • Cloud Feasibility Studies & Migration
  • Data Center Relocations
  • IT & Security Audits


IT Authorities is the perfect partner for your internal IT department. Let us prove it to you, one month at a time.

Why Microsoft 365?

As of 2020, there was no general precedent for how a business...

Why Microsoft 365?

As of 2020, there was no general precedent for how a business should handle a global pandemic. Today, it’s clear that technology has played a vital role in helping the world collaboratively learn, adapt and react to this phenomenon. As businesses reevaluate their modus operandis in a post-pandemic market – one thing is certain – flexibility is no longer a luxury, it’s essential. 

As a SaaS industry leader, Microsoft has provided flexibility to the world’s workforce for nearly 3 decades. In the last year, they have maintained that leadership through updating and implementing several key solutions to help businesses adapt quickly. When it comes to running agile operations in 2021, we have the Microsoft 365 tools you need: 


Whether onsite or remote, keep your teams connected and organized! All internal communications, virtual meetings, shared files, tasks, and a vast array of 3rd party apps are all integrated into Teams. Enjoy increased transparency! 


With our ability to build, manage, and deploy infrastructure to safely support your business needs, you can rest assured that your mission-critical applications are always available. Check out our Cloud Migration Guide as well as our Cloud Readiness Assessment to get started today!


Did you know in 2020 the average cost of a data breach was $150 million? Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection uses advanced learning and intelligence to automatically shut down new threats. By using Windows Defender, recently ranked best in class antivirus software, you’ll be able to protect your Windows 10 devices and files from malware and ransomware- 24/7/365.

These few features, while significant in their impact, are only the tip of the iceberg! Our team of highly curated business consultants specialize in creating digital utopias. Our purpose is simple- to understand your business so that you don’t have to understand ours.

Talk with one of our friendly consultants today and learn how Microsoft 365 might just be the solution you’ve been searching for!

Say Goodbye to Yearly Contracts in 2021

The name of the game for business success in 2021 is...

Say Goodbye to Yearly Contracts in 2021

The name of the game for business success in 2021 is flexibility. 

Almost every industry experienced a multitude of changes in tech in 2020 and some business’s are suffering in their efforts to catch up. The benefits of outsourcing your businesses core IT functions are clear and simple: 

  1. All costs considered, managed service providers (MSP’s) cost less than an onsite employee.
  2. Flexibility to scale your services up or down based on your needs. 
  3. Proactive implementation of updates, improved security, and latest tech.

Consider this- Many MSPs require long term commitments to a predetermined set of services. This means you can add the additional services you need, if you’re willing to resign your contract and adopt a new and higher price. Partnering with a managed service provider should be easy and built on continual trust and performance – not long term contracts.  

IT Authorities chooses to take a more transparent and cost effective approach to meeting your needs. Working with us means – on top of the above guarantees – you’ll also benefit from

  1. Month-to-Month service agreements and no cancellation fees.  
  2. Single price per person/month. It doesn’t matter if one person has a tablet and the other has four devices; each person costs the same. (starting at $99/user/month)   
  3. Support, monitoring & patching 24/7/365 so that you’re never unprotected.

Our team of highly curated business consultants specialize in creating digital utopias. Our purpose is simple – to understand your business so that you don’t have to understand ours. With transparency and trust being the foundation of our services, we promise to deliver world-class service to you everyday. Your freedom is our promise! 

Schedule a consultation with one of our friendly IT experts today and see how IT Authorities can bring you peace of mind and flexibility, in 2021.

Overcoming COVID Challenges

We have all learned a considerable amount, both personally...

Overcoming COVID Challenges

Dec_1 Blog Header

We have all learned a considerable amount, both personally and professionally, in the last 9 months, wouldn’t you agree? 

Since the onset of COVID-19, companies have been forced to adapt their entire infrastructure in order to continue providing timely and accurate service to their clients, while also ensuring safety for their workforce both physically and digitally. For some this is a time of rapid company growth and for others this a time to strategically scale back. Unfortunately for both, the circumstances have exposed many inadequacies and shortcomings of current IT solutions that have left many companies scrambling for stability. 

This pandemic has expedited and exacerbated the need to fortify the digital company space through technological support, safety, and advancement. That is why there has been an increased interest in outsourcing IT solutions to managed service providers. 

Have you considered the benefits of outsourcing your IT solutions to a managed service provider?

  • Maximized ROI on IT investments
  • Increased efficiency 
  • Advanced cybersecurity solutions 
  • Reduced technical inefficiencies
  • Reduced downtime
  • Month-to-Month contracts 

At IT Authorities, our team of friendly experts work with you to devise a custom strategy that allows you to focus on YOUR business, not ours. 

Don’t you think it’s time to bridge the gap between peace of mind and technology? We are excited to meet you via the form below and we look forward to solving your IT headaches. 


Let’s Start The Conversation

Start leveraging our innovative approaches to your mission-critical applications.


Why Your Company Needs Microsoft Teams

Recently, it’s become clear how important it is to have...

Why Your Company Needs Microsoft Teams

Recently, it’s become clear how important it is to have the right business collaboration tools. Business collaboration has long been recognized as a way to increase employee productivity and satisfaction. Now, business collaboration tools have become a necessity as companies have been forced to transition to remote workplaces. 

One of the leading business collaboration tools for chat and file sharing is Microsoft Teams. Teams is a feature-rich and customizable chat platform that enables employees to communicate and work together on projects from anywhere at any time. 

A Communications and Collaboration Hub

Microsoft Teams Chat provides a great way to communicate with co-workers in real time and collaborate on projects. Chat allows project members to send instant messages, notifications, and documents. Chats can be enhanced with fun gifs and emojis to lighten up the workday. Chat Histories can be maintained and searched through conversation threads. 

Teams Chat can also be used to share files and work together on documents while maintaining version control. Documents can be uploaded, linked, and stored in Teams or Channels. 

Employees can conduct meetings from anywhere. There’s no need to reserve a conference room or go into the office. Chat integrates with the calendar, making conference calls a snap to schedule and send invitations for. 

Teams has all the desirable meeting features. Meetings can be conducted using video. Meeting leaders and participants can share screens to give everyone access to documents and other important information. There are also meeting notes and whiteboard features.

The Versatility of Microsoft Teams

Co-workers can easily move from Chat into Teams Calling by clicking on an icon for dial-free calling. Clicking another icon turns your call into a Video Chat, and Teams Group Chats turn your calls into conference calls. 

Collaboration and file sharing occurs in real time. File sharing is compatible with a wide variety of formats, including:

  • Word docs
  • PowerPoint
  • Excel
  • SharePoint
  • OneNote
  • Power BI 

Teams Channels allow project managers to organize Chat, file sharing, and file storage according to individual projects and tasks. Access control can be maintained by inviting relevant team members to a Team or Channel. 

Teams Group Chats can easily be created to allow project group members to communicate and receive notifications about project progress. 

Microsoft Teams Flexibility

Microsoft Teams is flexible enough to work on any device. Teams is available on Mac and Windows desktops for the office or remote workplace. The platform is also available as a mobile app. This allows Android, iPhone, and tablet users to take advantage of Teams collaboration tools. 

Microsoft Teams is also customizable. Teams can be enhanced with both third-party and Microsoft Office 365 applications, such as OneDrive, SharePoint, and OneNote. 

Chatbots can easily be added to a Team. These bots allow users to interact with software or a website so you can find information. Chatbots respond conversationally to requests, freeing you from conducting manual searches. They can also send notifications when a report is ready or an action needs to take place. 

Get Your Remote Workplace Up and Running

Rapid deployment is crucial when transitioning to a remote workplace. Working with the right technology partner can help your company put together all the resources needed to support your remote workforce, including Microsoft Teams. 

IT Authorities offers Immediate Remote Working Services. We can get your employees set up within 48 hours with access to Microsoft Windows and Office 365 applications, including Teams. 

IT Authorities can help you find out if your company’s Office 365 licensing includes Microsoft Teams for collaboration and assist you in the purchase if it does not. 

Get your company on board with Microsoft Teams. IT Authorities can get you started.

10 Benefits of Microsoft Azure Cloud Services for Your Business

It's estimated that 83% of enterprise workloads will be...

10 Benefits of Microsoft Azure Cloud Services for Your Business

It’s estimated that 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. And because the cloud is so beneficial, and now so easily accessible, even small businesses are making the jump.

But if you’re new to the idea of the cloud, and aren’t sure which cloud service provider is right for you, you may need some help to find which direction is right for you.

For instance, if you’re a small business owner, you don’t need a ton of cloud service just yet. So you don’t want to have to pay a lot of money just to get a basic plan that is still too big for your company. And if you’re consistently growing your small business, you want your cloud service to be able to grow along with you.

And that’s where Microsoft Azure comes into play. With Microsoft’s name attached to it, you can feel confident that you’re getting a quality product. And if you’re a small business, you can create a plan that works for you and your needs today, so you aren’t overpaying.

As you expand your business, you can add more service, making it that much easier to grow.

In this article, we’ll tell you 10 reasons why Microsoft Azure cloud services are the best on the market today. Now then, let’s get started!

1. Analytics

Being able to easily access accurate numbers to track your business is an absolute must for any business owner. With Microsoft Azure, you’ll have helpful built-in analytics that are far superior to Azure’s competitors.

These analytics will make it that much easier to track your businesses’ growth, and thus, make decisions accordingly.

2. Apps Management

Standalone applications are often are a huge part of any modern business. So if you already have an app, or are interested in getting one, Azure will make that process much easier to manage.

With Azure, you’ll be able to easily manage those applications, as well as provide your customers with an enjoyable user experience.

3. Availability

Unlike other, smaller cloud service providers, Microsoft Azure has global availability. Which means that, if you ever plan to expand, you won’t have to upgrade or create new servers for new locations.

And because Microsoft is such a large company, the number of servers around the world reduce downtime tremendously. That means you won’t ever have to worry about going without for an extended period of time.

4. Cost-Effectiveness

Because you have the ability to create a custom plan that is right for you and your business, you can really get the most for your money with Azure. You won’t be paying for any space, or services, that you don’t need at the moment.

And the ability to pay for more services as you require them allows you to future-proof your business and expand with minimal growing pains.

5. Disaster Recovery

One of the biggest benefits of cloud computing is disaster recovery.

The idea of a computer or two crashing or malfunctioning, and thus losing all of your hard work, is every business owner’s nightmare. Microsoft Azure will not only help your business stay online and running 24/7 but if something does happen, their disaster recovery team will get everything back to how it was before.

This level of peace-of-mind is worth the price of Azure alone.

6. Scalability

We touched on this earlier, but the ability to easily grow with Azure is critical for small or growing businesses. You can customize your plan to fit your businesses’ current needs and upgrade as you need more for consumption.

This means you won’t have to pay for more upfront just to future-proof yourself. You can simply upgrade when the time is right, without spending more than you need to.

7. Security

Microsoft has taken amazing precautions to ensure that your data, and your customer’s data, is secure. Outside of the various precautions taken to keep your data safe, Microsoft has a global incident response team available in case of any incidents or issues.

Again, this is the kind of quality you’re only going to get with Microsoft. This level of protection is why some of the largest businesses in the world use Azure.

8. Speed

Another big benefit to using the cloud is that you can speed up various programs and software, improving your workflow in the process.

Because of the fact that the Azure servers are abundant, and located all over the world, the speed that you get with Azure is unmatched. That means that your user experience is excellent, your downloads and your content are contently delivered to you quickly.

9. Support

We’ve already touched on how much support you get with Microsoft Azure, but it’s a topic that’s worth mentioning again. From disaster recovery to a dedicated incident response team, Azure will be there for you and your business during any major issues.

There’s also an excellent technical support team available whenever you need them to help guide you through the smallest of issues.

10. Updates

Like everything else, Azure is being updated and improved upon constantly. Those updates are not only included but automatic, so you won’t have to worry about whether or not you’re up to date.

This will help prevent you from encountering any issues with usability or security and keep your servers up and running smoothly.

10 Benefits of Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

Well, there you have it! Those are the 10 benefits to using Microsoft Azure cloud services!

Being able to get into the cloud service game as a small business owner, and then easily grow, is a huge plus. And the benefits that come with using a Microsoft-branded product are numerous, so you can guarantee a good experience for everyone involved.

Interested in learning more about cloud migrations? Be sure to check out our recent post, Your Ultimate Guide to Cloud Migrations!

Your Ultimate Guide to Cloud Migrations

Cloud migration is the process of moving business elements...

Your Ultimate Guide to Cloud Migrations

Cloud migration is the process of moving business elements to a cloud-computing environment. These include data and applications.

Many types of cloud migration exist. The most common type is a transfer from a local data center to the public cloud.  

Why Cloud Migration?

There are lots of benefits in migrating to the cloud. Cloud computing allows your software to perform faster and smoother. Data accessibility increases and overhead costs decrease.  

But cloud migration is a complex process that requires careful planning and implementation. Before starting on this journey, it’s essential to take a look at all the possible outcomes.

Bumps in the path include security gaps, unexpected costs, and interoperability. To cut them, a migration strategy is necessary. Here, we’ve provided you with a straightforward but comprehensive cloud guide.

6 Easy Steps

There are six easy steps to cloud migration. These are planning, accessing the systems, a dry run, choosing the migration method, testing, and going live.

1. Planning

The planning stage is where your team assesses organizational readiness for the migration. You then create a strategy. This requires you to examine three different aspects: technical readiness, business process readiness, and people readiness. 

Assessing technical readiness refers to finding out about your technological readiness before migration. You’ll need to know how many applications you will need to integrate. You’ll need to understand how your data will be imported and exported, and how any analytics will be affected. 

Assessing business process readiness means checking the business processes. Check if they are ready for transfer to the cloud. This includes payroll, financial reporting, and hiring. 

For example, if aspects of these processes are not yet digitized, this must be done before the migration. Lastly, people readiness refers to the members of your organization.

 You need to find out how ready the workers are for the migration. This applies to all the employees, and not just those of the IT department. Since the migration may result in some changes to the way day-to-day users interact with the system, it’s vital to assess and do some training if necessary.

Planning also allows you to create a strategy or a roadmap. For this roadmap, you will need to identify the following:

  • Starting conditions 
  • Desired results
  • Processes of change 
  • Testing
  • Reporting to measure success

With each of these items thought out and discussed, you will have an outline of the migration process and strategy.

2. Accessing the Organizational Systems

Migrating the data and applications of the organization to the cloud requires getting access to their systems. The complexity of this process depends on the hygiene of your client’s IT environment. If they have healthy day-to-day hygiene, it will be reasonably simple. 

How well the business knows its own systems is usually an indicator of how smoothly the migration will occur in the future. This step can be thought of as getting handed many keys by the organization, and their knowledge of what each key opens.

Once the client hands the keys over, you do a gap analysis. This lets you know how well the business’ idea of its IT environment matches reality.

 For example, if several developers have been hired independently during the lifetime of one server, each of their separate scripts and backups may have been uploaded onto the server. In these cases, their idea of system organization could be flawed. Complications like these are something you should be prepared for.

3. Dry Run

Also referred to as the proof of concept stage, here you should execute the migration model on a sample data set. Without going live, test if the model would work. 

This stage can be configured around a single event to be sure that the migration path is functional. While this stage is quick, it can also be an excellent place to align your client’s expectations with the timeline, budget, and resources provided.

4. Migration Method

The two main methods of implementation are imaging and domain-by-domain. Both have their pros and cons. Imaging is a simple copy and paste process that can be completed outside business hours. This is one of the main benefits to it. 

But several things can go wrong with copying a clone image of the systems to a new environment. Also, there is required downtime before going live, as imaging cannot be done in a live setting. Even so, it remains a popular choice.

Domain-by-domain migrations are more reliable than imaging. However, they take much longer to implement. This process moves one system component at a time.

 The benefit of this is that the chances of service outage are low. But, the client must be able to maintain two environments at the same time, which can be expensive.

5. Testing

To avoid fiascos like the TSB migration, testing must be rigorous. It must give the migration a chance to fail so that potential issues can be ironed out. The testing period can take from as little as half a day to as much as three months, depending on the complexity of the environment. 

Testing includes examining all the points of entry, different user groups, and the types of interactions. These and all other interdependent processes have to be tested before going live.

6. Going Live

This phase is the central time where a scheduled downtime occurs. At this stage, the file structures and databases are verified, and changes in them are checked. It’s common practice to go live during times with low traffic, like late nights and weekends. But this is a mistake. 

First, if the stages before going live have been done thoroughly, no errors will occur. Secondly, if something goes wrong, it is difficult to get in touch with the relevant developers during such times. The best recommended time is around 7 am on a Monday, as this will give a reasonable amount of time with rectification while minimizing disruption.

Migrate Today

Cloud migration doesn’t happen overnight without planning. Research has shown that over 50 percent of migration projects ran over-budget, and up to 66 percent went over the timescale. 

Experts say that it’s best to plan for migration rather than have cloud migration happen as a necessity. This allows for adequate preparation. 


7 Effective Ways to improve cloud data security

Cloud computing has changed everything. Companies no...

7 Effective Ways to improve cloud data security

Cloud computing has changed everything. Companies no longer rely on in-house servers and software to get business done. Most business can execute their business functions online.

With your data online it is vital that you keep it safe. Studies show that 21% of folders on the internet are not protected. You don’t want this to be your company or customer data.

If you are moving to the cloud and want to know how to keep your data safe, then you’ve come to the right place. This post will show you how you can keep your data safe. Keep reading to learn seven ways to step up your cloud data security.

1. Read Your User Agreements

If you expect a cloud provider to take care of your data, then it pays to know how they intend to do it. User agreements are long, and people don’t read them most of the time. Sometimes a service will hide the fine print of certain parts of their service there that may not be the best for your company.

Keep the following in mind when using a cloud service:

  • Who owns the data that you upload on the service?
  • Does the provider scan your data?
  • Who has access to your data in the company?
  • Are there any activity logs kept of your actions?
  • Are proper backups of your data kept?
  • Where is your data stored?
  • Does your provider follow government regulations that you have to follow?

Don’t just skim through your terms because it could contain text that makes the provider a poor choice for your cloud service. While you can save money with some services, make sure that they offer everything you need.

2. Don’t Skimp on Your Passwords

Do you use passwords that are easy for you to remember? A lot of people do. They use children, parents, dates, and pets that are important to them.

The problem is attackers can learn this information about you. Making your password easier for you to remember also makes it easy to guess. Make sure you and your company implement a password policy to enforce strong passwords and prohibits the use of old passwords.

Make sure your password is at least eight characters and doesn’t contain any common words or phrases. It is smart to include at least one lower case character, capital letter, number, and a special character in your password. The more complicated it is, the harder it will be to guess. 

If you have a hard time remembering random passwords, try to come up with a random phrase that people don’t regularly use.

Some companies also make use of cloud password managers to secure company passwords. These managers will create and store passwords for your online accounts, so you don’t have to remember them.

You can also grant access to websites to your employees without revealing the actual passwords. The fewer people who know, the better.

3. Avoid Storing Sensitive Information

The cloud is convenient, but it isn’t the answer to everything. If you have something that is very sensitive and doesn’t need to be frequently accessed then don’t put it on the cloud.

The cloud works well when you have constant access and sharing options for your files. But, not everyone needs to have access to everything.

If you do have data that you keep on-site, you still need to make sure that you are running proper backups in case of data failure.

4. Use a Service That Offers Encryption

A common concern for companies hosting files with the cloud is external access to their data. Some providers have policies that don’t allow employees to access files without permission, but others might not say anything about it.

When a service offers encryption of your files on their servers, that means that there will be no unauthorized access to your data. Encryption and decryption happen during the upload and download process.

While this can add time to the transfer process, it is worth it for the added security.

5. Encrypt Everything

If you are unable to find a service that offers encryption, then another option is to encrypt your data locally before putting it on the cloud.

There are third-party tools that offer this function for you and will require a password to decrypt the file. This encryption will help you make sure nobody can access your data when they don’t have the password to do it.

Even if your cloud provider offers encryption, it still won’t hurt to add an extra layer yourself for that additional protection.

6. Lock Down Your Local Machines

You’re only as strong as the weakest link. This applies to security as well.

Your data on the cloud doesn’t give you a free pass for weak security on your physical workstations. If an unauthorized person has access to a computer, they can still access your cloud data if you stay logged into the websites.

Also, make sure that you take your anti-virus and malware protection seriously. A compromised system can steal your account usernames and passwords to find your data.

7. Use Two-Factor Authentication

Using the right password can only get you so far. People can get careless and have their passwords exposed.

To combat this, you can make use of two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication works by adding an extra step to your login process. The website gives you a code that you need to enter after it confirms your password.

More traditional methods involve sending a text message or email with the code. You also have authenticator and hardware authentication available to use.

An authenticator application is an application for your phone that will hold codes for your website accounts. When you sign into a website, your authenticator will provide you a random code that changes regularly to put into the website.

For hardware authentication, you usually have a USB device that plugs into your computer. When the website detects this device, it confirms your identity and allows you to log in.

Don’t Take Cloud Data Security Lightly

As more people come online the internet keeps getting more dangerous. It’s vital that you protect your business interests and your customer’s data from any unauthorized access.

If you are looking for help with your cloud data security, then let us know. Contact us to schedule an appointment!