VIRTUAL OFFICE MIGRATION
The entire office in the palm of your hand. Work from anywhere!
If you’re like most organizations, you already have at least one component of your business running in the cloud. And the notion of being able to work efficiently and effectively from anywhere can be very powerful. However, that doesn’t mean a full office to cloud migration is the best option. There are a number of things to consider, and a number of solutions and options to determine the best fit for your particular operation.
The traditional office is being VIRTUALIZED
The traditional “office” is transforming – the way employees expect digital-native workplaces, the way work comes home with us and can be done from anywhere, the way new technologies are changing existing jobs and creating new industries. And as a result, the traditional “office,” a combination of the physical workplace and the digital infrastructure that powers it, is forcibly changing, too.
The “virtual office” may be a new term, but the move to cloud and datacenter based office systems has been quietly happening for more than a decade. So what does it all mean?
The VIRTUAL OFFICE exists when your day-to-day work is performed in the cloud or the data center. It’s a new platform for email, telephone systems, document storage/management, telephone systems, messaging and calendaring. But more than that, it’s connectivity; it’s collaboration; it’s centralization; it’s having choices about when you work and from where the work is done.
It’s difficult to separate the virtual (cloud) office from cloud based office systems—the most widely used systems being Microsoft Office 365 and Google for Work — because while the systems provide the cloud-based infrastructure, by doing so they make set the table for the virtual office by way of messaging and collaboration possible.
The virtual office affects everything about business, from the way IT departments are run to the way users work. And yes, with these changes come new dynamics and new challenges, but also new opportunities, solutions, and industries that will completely transform the landscape of IT.
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Public, Private or Hybrid Cloud solution
Once you have decided to make the migration to the cloud, it’s time to choose the best type of solution.
There are three basic options:
- Public: Your IT resources are entirely provided and managed by Mosaic Data Services in the datacenter.
- Private: You create your own private cloud using your own IT resources and host them in the datacenter.
- Hybrid: Your virtual office uses both private and public cloud resources (your servers, with Office 365 mail servers for example).
With its healthy mix of on-demand reliability, high availability, security, and reduced operations costs, hybrid cloud implementations are by far the most common and most attractive. Going hybrid can sometimes give you the best of both worlds. We illustrate how a hybrid solution can work through a hypothetical scenario.
Imagine your web site is quickly gaining popularity and users. In order to keep up with the growing demand, you need the underlying resource to scale up dynamically. During peak usage, you should be able to deploy maximum resources to serve requests, and when demand drops, you should ideally be able to simply drop unneeded resources to save costs. This is possible within a public cloud. However, suppose the data your app gathers is highly confidential and can’t just be stored in a shared or public cloud. This is where a hybrid solution can help. In this case, you can choose which components you want to live in the public side of the data center and which will remain on your hardware in the data center.
It has been reported that businesses are increasingly adopting a multi-cloud strategy (85%), and 58% plan to use a hybrid model.
Four Convenient Datacenter Facilities
Assessing Applications for a Cloud Migration
Now, it’s time to see if your line of business applications are cloud-ready. Here are some factors that you will need to consider:
Application design complexity:
Some traditional applications are so complicated and tightly coupled you may not be willing to rework them. However, the foremost requirement for any successful office migration is that your applications should follow a distributed architecture and should be scalable by design. Most commonly used line of business applications like Microsoft Office, Quickbooks, VoIP phone systems, document management system, and others have matured to the point that they can all be run and scaled properly in either a public, private or hybrid cloud platform. If you have custom developed applications, there are a number of tools which can help you assess the applications’ cloud-readiness and we can help with this assessment.
Every application has its integration points, such as payment gateways, web services, external storage, and third-party vendors. It’s very important to analyze the impact your cloud migration will have on those dependencies. Sometimes you will experience unexpected connectivity or authentication challenges that you should identify and solve up front. The most critical (and tedious) task is to identify all of those integration points. Since older applications might be poorly documented and the developers familiar with the end-to-end functional and non-functional details may no longer be available, you might have to go through each module manually.
Many of these issues can be addressed through a combination of the familiarity your team has with the software applications and an asset discovery tool (either open source or commercial). An asset discovery tool can help you identify entire server configurations within a network, along with connectivity details. For example, say that you have a server room in your office that has 20 different servers running various applications and services. A discovery tool can give you the bird’s eye view of the entire system. It can also provide granular details that will help provide a dependencies assessment.
The host operating system:
Once you have decided on cloud migration, it’s important to know whether you will be able to deploy your applications on the same OS. Your applications may only run on a specific OS (or OS release). If it’s not compatible with the virtualization platform, then we will need to find a workable substitute OS, a different virtualization platform, or simply leave the application on a “non-unvirtualized” server. For instance, most virtualization platforms don’t provide 32-bit OS options and others might have unexpected subscription requirements. It’s best to do your research in advance.
The application database:
A database is obviously a critical part of any application. You can invest a great deal on database servers and, often, licenses. Moreover, given the complexity and sensitivity of your data, you just might not want to move it right now: migrating terabytes of data is no trivial undertaking. In either case, you should make sure that the migration methods you use are highly reliable and come with the possibility of rollbacks to deal with any unexpected chaos. Most modern database solutions offer migration paths and tools. However, it’s very important to evaluate those migration paths before pushing the “start” button.
Networking / Connectivity:
How will you be connecting from your physical office to your virtual office? In most virtual office scenarios this is done over an encrypted Virtual Private Network (VPN) tunnel. Once you have migrated your servers to the datacenter and virtualized your office, it is important to make sure that you have a reliable means for connecting to the remote network. VPN tunnels are a very mature, highly secure means by which you can use your home or office internet connection to create a direct, encrypted link between your physical workspace and your virtual workspace. Typically this will require that we have a router / firewall installed in the datacenter protecting access to your infrastructure and another firewall in your office that creates a permanent tunnel to the datacenter. Alternatively, you can also have a VPN client installed directly on your laptop or office computer that will quickly create the same secure connection on demand. Once this is in place, you can literally access your virtual office from anywhere you have a reliable internet connection.
Some traditional applications are so complicated and tightly coupled you may not be willing to rework them. However, the foremost requirement for any successful office migration is that your applications should follow a distributed architecture and should be scalable by design.
Proof of Concept
It’s always a great idea to build a small proof of concept (POC) before you actually migrate your office to the cloud. Even though these models won’t anticipate all possible issues, they it definitely will give you greater clarity and understanding of the challenges you may face. Some of the things you should consider during your POC include:
- Performance comparisons with your existing applications
- Complexity levels involved in migrating line of business applications
- Network challenges may exist and need to be worked out
- Peripheral devices that need to be accessed (printers, scanners, etc)
- Internet service capacity and reliability
Addressing all the real-time challenges of your virtual office migration cannot be captured on just one page, however we have tried to cover a number of the things we will consider before we start the migration process. For most small and mid-sized organizations, the migration to a cloud-based, virtualized office platform has proven to be a very rewarding transition that offers an amazing number of cost benefits along with a sense of freedom that comes with the knowledge that you and your staff no longer have to commute to a specific place in order to conduct meaningful work and tasks. Just the time saved from the elimination of a regular commute can often be justification enough for many small businesses.
Addressing all the real-time challenges of your virtual office migration cannot be captured on just one page, however we have tried to cover a number of the things we will consider before we start the migration process.
Ready to take the next step?
Are you ready to discuss and learn more about the wide variety of Virtual Office options and opportunities that exist? We would like to review them with you and determine the the best strategy to improve your business and allow you to get your critical infrastructure out of the server closet and into the data center.
Give us a call at (240) 399-3900, contact us online using the form on this page, or start a conversation with one of our representatives using the Live Chat button on the lower right corner of the screen and we can get started. The process is easy, we will take very good care of you along the way…and you will definitely be pleased and most likely surprised by the results!