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4 steps for a successful public cloud migration for Canadian government organizations

Adopting public cloud technologies can help Canadian government agencies adapt to their most pressing IT challenges. Once you realize the appeal of the cloud, the next challenge is figuring out how to migrate IT workloads to the cloud.

In our experience at OnX, a successful public cloud migration has four essential steps:

  • Understanding your public cloud options.
  • Assessing current workload topology and creating a migration strategy.
  • Securing sensitive data in transit and at rest.
  • Partnering with a provider who has the skills and experience to help guide you to success the first time

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these steps:

1. Get to know your cloud options.

Choosing from the top providers like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft is only the first chapter of your cloud-migration story. At OnX, we recommend that Canadian agencies go with Microsoft’s Azure platform because you can store data on Canadian data centers, as required by privacy regulations.

Moreover, Microsoft technology is pervasive throughout Canadian government agencies, which shortens the learning curve in most IT organizations. Azure also delivers:

  • World-class security
  • In-depth compliance support
  • Cost efficiencies
  • Flexibility and scalability

(Want to know more? Click here to check out our free guide on why Azure is the perfect fit for Canadian government organizations.)

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Most government agencies in Canada will need a hybrid structure using a combination of local- and cloud-hosted applications and storage. Designing and building a hybrid cloud infrastructure is a sophisticated project best left to experts with a strong record of accomplishment. Trying to design your own hybrid cloud system will be considerably more time-consuming than partnering with people who do it every day.

2. Assess your workloads and craft a migration strategy that works best for your organization.

Once you’ve decided on a public cloud provider, you need to start working on a migration strategy. After all, workloads, applications, virtual servers, containers, and other IT components have unique performance characteristics in the cloud. A cloud workload assessment will help you figure out which workloads perform best in the public cloud and which should remain on-site.

The assessment lays the groundwork for your migration strategy, which must take into account:

  • Budget resources and potential cost savings. The move from CapEx to OpEx in the cloud can produce substantial savings under specific circumstances. Make sure you understand all the cost ramifications of a cloud migration.
  • Software compatibility. Locally hosted applications might be coded in a language that does not work in the cloud, and require “refactoring”.
  • Application resource requirements. You need to account for the processing, memory, storage, and bandwidth your cloud apps require.
  • Hybrid options. Few agencies move all their workloads to the cloud. Thus, you’ll have to thoughtfully allocate resources to the places where they do the most good.

Because strategy informs system design, it’s imperative to nail down as many specifics as you can before you start designing a cloud-migration program.

3. Ensure security of sensitive data.

Azure is designed to support the major Canadian data-security regulations including:

  • Privacy Act
  • Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)
  • Alberta Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA)
  • British Columbia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (BC FIPPA)

There are currently some limitations on the types of data that can reside in the public cloud, but the Canadian government is looking at changing these regulations to include protected big data.

Public cloud services like Azure have a powerful incentive to maintain compliance certifications and stringent security protocols because their reputation depends on protecting the sanctity of private data.

Cloud storage also gives government agencies options for disaster recovery that they might have been doing without because they lacked the budget resources. A robust cloud-based replication software can provide real-time data protection to keep critical systems humming in an emergency.

Agencies also can stop relying on outmoded tape backups that require days or weeks to recover critical data. Bear in mind, however, that designing and deploying a cloud backup system requires substantial expertise, planning, testing, and documentation. Most agencies are better off hiring backup experts than trying to build such a system on their own.

4. Partner with a trusted managed cloud provider.

Public cloud systems can be managed, monitored, and supported on PCs, tablets, and smartphones. This mobility and flexibility create an excellent opportunity to partner with a managed cloud provider who handles all your public cloud responsibilities for a predictable monthly fee.

OnX has been designing, building, and running data centers for more than three decades, which informs everything we do in our Managed Cloud Services. Canadian government organizations that partner with OnX have a direct line to our deep expertise in compliance, system design, and IT infrastructure.

Moreover, we have an extensive track record of supplying IT solutions to the Canadian government, which has designated us a certified Azure provider. We also deliver a wide variety of managed cloud solutions, including managed cloud backup, disaster recovery as a service, assessments, workshops, workload migrations, and many more.

In addition, we are currently working with both the Government of Nova Scotia for their DR requirements and in another case Government of Alberta for the sale of online cannabis.

Free up the resources you need to better serve the public

Migrating IT workloads to Azure requires substantial expertise across multiple government disciplines. Then you have to manage, monitor, and support those workloads.

A potentially smarter path is to let the people who design and implement your Azure migration manage and support it as well. That way, you can keep your IT staff focused on the rest of your critical digital-transformation efforts. Citizens accustomed to always-on smartphone services will soon expect the same from their government if they don’t already.

Managed Cloud Services from OnX can help your IT staff adapt to the relentless rise in citizens’ expectations.

OnX offers a free managed backup proof of concept with Azure, talk to us today on how we can help your organization embrace the power of the cloud.

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