“What are the challenges with migrating from an on-premise solution to a cloud-based solution?”
I’m going to rephrase the question a bit to “What concerns should you have migrating from an on-premise solution to a cloud-based solution?”
In the IT world and many other organizations are moving toward the cloud due to big data, agility, scalability, business growth, cost benefits, etc. In our world, these all sounds like great reasons to move and they are! It will give you benefits of instant access anywhere in the world to your system with connectivity, availability, less hardware to maintain on-site, less cost upfront, fewer security risks for your internal networks, and can be external facing to the internet only to mention a few benefits. Several keys companies have made a huge investment and are making returns by offering cloud services such as Amazon AWS and Google. Most likely you won’t have to deal directly with them, but your cloud provider already does. With simple and probably not too much bandwidth allows for easy access to the hosted site without concern of locality for your devices as long as you have Internet connectivity.
With all the upside there are a few points of concern to evaluate before making the cloud leap. What is the maturity of the cloud provider and their cloud redundancy strategy, is it a private cloud (i.e. dedicated to you) or shared with other clients, what level of security and privacy are they guaranteeing, who manages the back end software, maintenance and backups (hopefully the cloud provider), and what is the long term cost? By moving to the cloud, initial hardware costs are lower, but now you have recurring monthly/ quarterly/yearly costs that don’t go away and are typically in addition to regular software maintenance. Then there is the ever-present worry over cyber-attacks at the hosted site or local device. Data stored in the cloud is vulnerable to everything from cyber-attacks and “bots” to the risk of losing data or having information hi-jacked.
I would like to take a moment to clarity and define what a cloud-based solution is. Simply defined, cloud computing is a network of servers maintained in data center(s) that are overseen by third-party service providers. The server farm doesn’t have to be in the same place and can be located anywhere there is strong Internet access. Migrating to the cloud gives you seamless access despite your geographical location. This helps both organizations and individuals by offloading the burden of maintaining systems in-house and freeing IT resources to be used elsewhere. Not to get overly technical, but in cloud computing there are generally three common types of services models to choice from: IaaS, PaaS & SaaS. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) – a client can choose the infrastructure they need and only pay for those specific services. Platform as a Service (PaaS) – is a software stack provided and typically used by organizations that require extensive web application like an e-commerce site. Software as a Service (SaaS) – this is the most common and digital signage would fall in this category as would social networking sites, web based email services or suite products like Microsoft’s office 365.
The bottom line, a cloud solution will benefit you if you don’t have a strong IT infrastructure and staff on which to depend, but first you need to form a solid strategy and realistic expectations from both the corporate user and the cloud provider, along with proper governance to ensure that the assets are used in accordance with your policies and procedures. It’s not hard or complicated since digital signage providers have most of these areas already incorporated, just cover all the bases and make sure the skies are clear to fly.