Published: 14 January 2022

Reading time: About 7 minutes

In our latest blog post, Automated Intelligence’s Technical Solutions Specialist, Kyle Bingham, shares his thoughts on mistakes organisations make when moving to the cloud and how Automated Intelligence can help with best practice. Over the years, Kyle has seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to moving to the cloud. To discover how your organisation can be fully prepared to migrate to the cloud, have a read through the 7 common mistakes to avoid. 


1. Thinking the business-as-usual approach is the “safe approach”  

Change can feel scary, especially when we’re comfortable in the perceived safety of our business-as-usual processes, however it’s never too early to start thinking about your organisation’s cloud future.  By planning ahead of time and being prepared you can take the time to understand the information security implications, cost and licensing requirements to help make informed decisions.  You may be surprised to find that moving to a hybrid or cloud model could in fact save you money and reduce your exposure to other risks such as over-retained and sensitive data. 


2. Leaving it too late (fail to prepare, prepare to fail!) 

By not thinking ahead, many organisations wait until there is no other choice than to move to the cloud, driven perhaps by the end of an existing license or support agreement.  This can result in things being rushed to meet a tight deadline.  The project may become condensed into a very short timeline with only a single cutover and could ultimately fail to meet the needs of the business and users.  This can result in a re-evaluation and new approach which ultimately results in the project taking longer than it needed to.  Short timelines can also be exacerbated by not anticipating the network requirements for moving data from on-premise into the cloud.  AI.DATALIFT performs an initial high-speed metadata scan so you don’t have to wait whilst your content is uploaded to the cloud before you can start making intelligent decisions.  AI.DATALIFT also supports the use of Azure Data Box to provide physical migration into Azure, circumventing even the slowest of network infrastructures! 


3. Choosing the wrong cloud repository 

Microsoft Azure offers low-cost cloud archiving whilst Microsoft 365 encompasses SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business and Microsoft Teams.  Part of your organisation’s discovery and planning should involve understanding and deciding what needs to go where.  E.g. personal shares migrated to OneDrive for Business whilst corporate data moves to SharePoint Online or Microsoft Teams.  Of the remaining data, perhaps some can be deleted whilst the remainder goes into low-cost archive storage.  If existing legacy platforms need to remain in situ then perhaps a hybrid (on-premise and cloud) infrastructure is the way forward.  With a platform-agnostic solution like AI.DATALIFT, insights and governance can be achieved across both the on-premise and cloud segments of your data estate. 


4. Not designing a modern information architecture  

It might seem easier to just bring across your existing information architecture into a modern cloud environment without any restructuring, however this can introduce a range of challenges.   

Take permissions for example – your existing permissions model may not be as great as you think!  Over time permissions on unstructured data sources can become poorly managed and become a hotbed of risk, meanwhile users may have moved on from your organisation and no longer map into your new cloud directory.  Whilst AI.DATALIFT can expose where security inheritance has been broken and needs addressed, moving to the cloud requires a re-evaluation of your existing file and folder level security model.  Cloud at its forefront is about improving collaboration within your organisation and making sure the right teams have access to the right data.  In the context of SharePoint, this means giving the right teams access to the right sites and libraries and ensuring the right source data is then identified and migrated into those sites and libraries. 

AI.DATALIFT enables your organisation to identify, classify and map your desired source data into the new information architecture.  Combined with this, our expert consultants can help you make the most out of Microsoft 365 and circumvent common issues such as: 

  • SharePoint list view thresholds of 5000 items, which when exceeded can impact performance and result in error messages 
  • Whether to use folders or document sets 
  • File name and file path limits of 400 characters 
  • Preservation of source metadata 


5. Failing to involve end-users in the digital transformation process 

Problems can arise when organisations don’t communicate effectively with their teams.  Different teams may have their own sets of challenges, such as processes or retention requirements which need to be captured.  Teams understand their own data better than anyone else and are well placed to interpret the data insights and make informed recommendations to the organisation.  For this reason, we encourage organisations to identify cloud champions within their business to drive change and lead in early phases of the project.  These champions can go on to motivate and inspire their peers and help bring about cultural acceptance of the benefits of cloud. 

It’s also crucial to communicate changes to your user base and keep them informed of things like cutover dates or required training.  There may also be other business changes happening at the same time (e.g. Windows upgrades and new laptops) which need to be considered holistically and communicated effectively. 


6. Migrating everything to the cloud including the kitchen sink 

Moving to the cloud is a great opportunity to re-evaluate the data in your estate.  It’s likely you are currently in possession of: 

  • Duplicate files: these take up unnecessary storage space and add confusion for end users as there is no single point of reference 
  • Non-relevant and large files: e.g. ZIPs, email archives, database backups, VMs.  These can waste storage unnecessarily and may not be best placed in a document and record management system such as SharePoint Online. 
  • Redundant files: these could be associated with software packages that are no longer in use by the organisation, e.g. Lotus Notes 
  • Over-retained files: data should be retained according to a retention schedule and the relevant legislation, files which are already eligible for disposition needn’t be brought to the cloud if they are going to require deletion anyway. 
  • Users’ personal files: whilst your acceptable use policy may advise otherwise, some users will take advantage of their organisation’s infrastructure to store personal files.  Holiday photos, movies and games can generate a large footprint in volume terms. 
  • Files containing sensitive data: these could contain personal or sensitive data about the organisation, or its employees, customers and partners.  These files may contain PII (Personally Identifiable Information) or PCI (Payment Card Information) in the form of keywords or patterns. 


Choosing to move all your data to the cloud without considering the above factors only serves to push these problems further down the line.  Taking the opportunity to cleanse the data or de-scope subsets from the migration benefits users by helping them find what they’re really looking for in the cloud.  The cleansing of data can also allow your organisation to realise cost savings, particularly if you’re paying for a managed service storage solution by the terabyte!  Further, it reduces your organisation’s exposure to risk – if data is exposed through a security breach you can demonstrate that sensitive data had already been brought under control, or during an audit that data is not being over-retained.  Failure to provide these assurances has the potential to result in large financial penalties! 


7. Not having a plan for the future and letting the hard work go to waste 

Old habits tend to die hard!  After all the effort of cleansing and migrating your organisation’s data into your new information architecture, the most crucial thing now is to maintain the standard of excellence you’ve achieved.  This means having clear policies and user training on how to correctly handle data within the new information architecture, it also means implementing technical measures such as Microsoft Security and Compliance or AI.DATALIFT to provide continued monitoring and remediation of over-retained, redundant, high-risk and non-compliant data to  ensure data remains accessible, relevant and compliant well into the future. 


For further information on how we can help you on your cloud migration journey, contact us by completing the form below.

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