Migrating data securely from existing data centres to private clouds needn’t be a headache for SMBs

According to a recent Computing survey* , 64% of SMBs cited data security as the biggest concern when using and migrating to cloud technologies. This is hardly surprising given the lack of visibility that the cloud presents and that many SMBs have a skills deficit when it comes to the cloud. However, with the promise of reduced costs, increased efficiency and greater agility, businesses need to find a way to alleviate their concerns and take the leap of faith into a cloud architecture.

In theory, data should be just as secure in a private cloud as it is in an existing data centre. However, the problem is that many migration projects are often rushed or not completed properly due to pressure from the business to simply ‘get it done’ – particularly in the case of SMBs who often have limited time and resources to dedicate to such projects.

Yet, before any migration project, it’s important to understand the current business environment and goals, which in turn should help clarify why the data needs to be migrated and any configuration requirements. One way businesses can do this is by conducting a full audit and clean-up of the organisation’s security environment before starting the migration process. This should include both scope-based and role-based access requirements – in other words, who needs access to what and what they can do to it.

When it comes to the actual migration of the data, one of the easiest and secure ways to do so is through a two-stage migration process. This means attaching non-virtual, physical, existing servers to cloud storage – treating this as storage-as-a-service – then migrating the compute workload as and when the business is ready.

It’s also important to remember that on premise applications tend to have their own local security model. In other words, they are secured within the application themselves. So when migrating data to the private cloud, organisations need to make sure that the security controls they want to put in place at the application level are also applied at the data level. One way to do this is with the help of a cloud management platform that is able to manage all controls consistently from one place.

While on the surface a move to the cloud may appear daunting, if handled correctly, and with the support of the right technology, organisations need not worry. In an environment where competition is high and agility is paramount, SMBs really cannot afford not to embrace the cloud.

In many respects, SMBs stand to benefit the most from cloud-based technologies. By working with a trusted advisor or partner to help reach their cloud goals, they now have an opportunity to level the playing field and increase their competitiveness against their enterprise counterparts.

* Computing research paper: ‘SMB IT: The hybrid future available today’, February 2014