As the cloud continues to mature as a technology infrastructure, more and more regulated organizations are seeing how the strategic benefits outweigh their reservations. In the early stages of the cloud, companies in many industries – particularly life sciences – voiced legitimate concerns about things like bandwidth, sharing computing resources, data security and satisfying regulatory compliance. The cloud has made massive strides in past few years, and regulated organizations are not only trusting the technology more, but seeing it as a competitive advantage.
A new MasterControl white paper, “Upgrade to Cloud: Life Science Software Vendors Making ‘Going Cloud’ Easier,” discusses the benefits of operating in a cloud environment and how to work with a cloud service provider to mitigate the challenges of change management and the cloud migration process. It also includes planning strategies for achieving a faster and more organized transition.
Getting to the Cloud
While moving operations to the cloud is becoming more feasible and practical for organizations, there are still some preparation steps and heavy lifting involved in making the transition. All stakeholders throughout the company need to collaborate in making decisions, addressing the migration process and preparing for how it will change their current operations. Some of the common challenges with a cloud migration include:
- Not being current with latest on-premise version of the applications. This will likely add to the complexity and duration of the migration.
- Allocating time to develop a migration plan, identify the necessary staff and resources, and actually complete each phase of the upgrade according to schedule.
- The need to divert staff from their current duties for the duration of the upgrade while still carrying out the day-to-day functions of the business.
- Adjusting to changes in the users’ level of control over systems and data.
- Training staff on the new processes and technology in a cloud infrastructure.
These are just a few of the concerns companies face in migrating operations to the cloud. Still, a more difficult challenge might be getting all the key stakeholders onboard with both the idea of migrating and the timing of the project. To help with this effort, the white paper recommends showing each department – and the entire company – how the cloud will help them. Communicating this information companywide – not just to executive staff and department heads – will help in obtaining buy-in across the organization. The following are some of the most valuable benefits of migrating to the cloud:
Improved and consistent performance
For various reasons, IT infrastructures occasionally experience the proverbial “the system is slow” day. When this happens, users (and their nerves) are at the mercy of the technology. In a health care environment, slow IT system performance can directly impact the quality of patient care. With cloud technology, system latency is rare because cloud service providers are able to ensure a high level of uptime and consistent performance.
Seamless and less disruptive updates
Software version updates can be arduous and time-consuming – software validation is a major contributor to this issue. Unfortunately, many companies put off getting updates, which ends up being more detrimental to productivity. In a cloud environment, version updates are smaller and more frequent, resulting in minimal system disruption and downtime.
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Upgrade to Cloud - Life Science Software Vendors Making "Going Cloud" Easier
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Security measures are industry- and system-specific
Companies have different IT security needs depending on their industry focus, products and IT infrastructure. It’s important for companies to implement security measures based on their specific operation and system configurations. This level of security often requires continuous monitoring and management, which few companies have the staff and ability to do in-house. Cloud service providers are better equipped and staffed to provide comprehensive, system-specific security management.
Always current with the latest features and functionality
Organizations need to have confidence that their technology is reliable and allows staff to be productive. Unfortunately, productivity suffers when employees need to use workarounds or manual processes because the functionality they need isn’t in their current version of the software. With the cloud, smaller and more frequent updates enable users to have immediate access to all the latest functionality and feature enhancements. It also takes less time for users to come up to speed on the updated software.
Where to Begin
Your cloud service provider is the best resource to begin your research and due diligence. Cloud companies are constantly refining the technology and upgrade experience, making it as fast and smooth as possible. The following are a few specific items to consider as you embark on your move to the cloud:
Depending on the size of your system and amount of data you need to migrate, the migration could take some time. A best practice is to create a plan that imposes the least amount of disruption as possible. For example, identify your most pertinent processes and data and develop your migration plan around those priorities. This will enable you to get your critical business processes (CBP) going sooner.
Once you’re operating in a cloud infrastructure, updates are smaller and less complex. With your initial migration, your current system will need to adapt to functioning in a different kind of IT environment. As part of your preparation, it’s a good idea to assess how migrating your system to the cloud will impact your existing infrastructure, components, configurations and data.
Proof of concept
A proof of concept is the process of determining whether an idea can be turned into a reality and achieve the envisioned outcome. Some items to look for during your proof of concept include:
- Assess how much your existing application performance will improve in the cloud.
- Determine the level of complexity in migrating your applications and data.
- Identify challenges with the network that need to be worked out.
- Compare system availability and reliability between the cloud and your on-premise environment.
- Confirm your cloud service provider’s level of assistance and support.
Migrating to the cloud requires some pre-planning and effort, but the process is not as complex and unwieldy as it may appear. If you have completed a major software upgrade, you have experienced much of what is involved in a cloud migration.
Read the entire white paper: “Upgrade to Cloud: Life Science Software Vendors Making ‘Going Cloud’ Easier.”
David Jensen is a marketing communication specialist at MasterControl. He has been writing technical, marketing and public relations content in technology, professional development, business and regulated environments for more than two decades. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Weber State University and a master’s degree in professional communication from Westminster College.