A guide to successful Microsoft 365 cloud adoption with ShareGate

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In our years working with clients, we’ve amassed tons of information about what makes for successful Microsoft 365 cloud adoption. This series brings you insights for your own cloud migration based on our learnings.

At ShareGate, we want you to get the most out of your Microsoft 365 investment. We want you to be confident in your rollout and help you empower your users to explore Teams and SharePoint the right way.

That’s why we’ve built a complete Microsoft 365 management solution for you. ShareGate provides everything you need to migrate and manage your content, understand your inventory, clean up and govern your tenant, control permissions, and guide people to use the right tools the right way in one simple, affordable multi-tool built to aid you with driving enterprise cloud adoption.

We’ve helped thousands of customers with their cloud strategies in Microsoft 365. In those migrations, we’ve learned there’s a lot you need to do. Digital transformation can be scary, but a cloud-first strategy can streamline operations for every organization.

This article is the first in our series on how to drive cloud adoption successfully with Microsoft 365. It serves as a guide on how to use ShareGate to solve common issues that arise along the way, making your journey to the cloud smoother and your Microsoft 365 environment easier to manage once you get there. Ready?

Microsoft 365 cloud adoption framework: an ongoing, cyclical process

One of the most important things to know is that migration is only part of a successful Microsoft 365 deployment. Microsoft 365 adoption isn’t a narrative with a clear beginning and end.

Getting the most out of your Microsoft 365 investment requires a well-defined cloud strategy and consistent effort on the part of IT before, during, and after your migration. You’ll also find the cloud adoption journey to be ongoing and cyclical.

While every organization will have its own Microsoft 365 adoption journey, certain stages should be part of every successful cloud adoption strategy. In our work with customers, we’ve identified the following main stages that hold true for most organizations:

  • Planning
  • Migration
  • Modernization
  • Administration
  • Team creation
  • Lifecycle management
  • Security and compliance
  • Mergers and acquisitions

Is there a proper order for those stages? Well, not really. This is because user adoption of new tools is ongoing, governance policies should be reviewed regularly to account for unknown risks, and management processes can be improved and streamlined to save time.

Given this, most organizations will jump in and out of these stages as they progress or have new concerns to address in their journey. 

If this all seems a bit overwhelming, rest assured that every stage of your Microsoft 365 adoption journey is easier with ShareGate. We’re here to help you enhance cloud adoption and the use of new tools like Microsoft Teams to increase productivity from day one. It also makes monitoring and securing your environment easier while saving time on administrative tasks.

Wherever you’re in terms of your cloud readiness, ShareGate provides you with tools to simplify your Microsoft 365 cloud adoption process.

What are the benefits of a cloud migration strategy?

While your journey to the cloud probably won’t be linear, if you’re at the beginning, you’ll start by developing a cloud migration strategy, which provides the underpinning for all the stages in your journey. Organizations that start with a solid cloud migration strategy enjoy significant benefits from looking at their journey more holistically and comprehensively. Here are a few cloud benefits:

Better accessibility

Without cloud service providers, the massive shift to remote and hybrid work environments we’ve seen in the past few years would not have been possible. Cloud service providers make business-critical applications accessible virtually anywhere, enabling employees to be productive from home, in the office, or on the road. 

Better digital experiences

Cloud technologies significantly improve performance and end-user experience because cloud service providers scale easily in response to higher demands, such as streaming data, to ensure continuous delivery. Applications and websites on remote servers hosted in the cloud can run on the “edge” at a data center in locations closer to end users, reducing the network latency people might otherwise experience, such as slow page loads.

Cloud computing = Scalability

When you use cloud services to host your applications and data, you’re no longer limited by the size of your on-premises servers. With a pay-as-you-go operating model, the cloud services offer an automated agile operating model, allowing you to scale cost-effectively as your business needs change.

Cost savings

Cloud technology can produce significant cost savings for most businesses. As the amount of data your organization collects grows, the server space you need to store it also increases. So, cloud storage eliminates server sprawl and its associated costs. Cloud investment removes the cost of replacing legacy systems as IT architectures become outdated and the need to maintain and keep that infrastructure secure.

Easier IT management with cloud services

Cloud service providers use the most modern technologies regarding servers and storage. In a cloud infrastructure, IT teams no longer have to plan for the next technology refresh or upgrade a server’s memory or operating system. Instead, they can focus on solving more complex problems and create innovative business solutions to support key business outcomes.

Better Security

While working in a cloud infrastructure can introduce new risks, security is generally much better than on-premises, where all of the work required to keep servers secure falls to IT teams. In contrast, with cloud adoption, organizations can leverage their cloud service providers’ built-in security features, use automation to their advantage when establishing cloud security guardrails, and apply a wide range of well-established best practices to keep their cloud environments secure.

Developing a cloud migration strategy is a must

The importance of a comprehensive cloud migration strategy can’t be overstated. If you start migrating your data and/or applications to the cloud without devoting enough time and attention to your cloud strategy, you’ll lose out on many of these benefits.

This is because each application and dataset can have different requirements and, as such, may require a different migration approach. To avoid the ugly specter of having to move one or more of your applications back out of the cloud and onto your on-premises servers, you’ll want to invest the time needed upfront in developing your cloud adoption strategy.

In our next article in this series, we’ll discuss the planning effort needed to inform your cloud adoption strategy and the different migration strategy types. But, for now, let’s turn our attention to some of the other cloud adoption challenges you might encounter throughout your journey if you don’t have a solid cloud strategy to start with.

What are common cloud adoption challenges?

Organizations must have a clear intention on what needs to be migrated and why, rather than jumping in with both feet and trying to shift each workload to the public cloud just because they want to. Cloud migration projects often require work for infrastructure, operations, and development teams.​​​​​​​

Deciding what, when, and how to migrate

Not all data is created equal. As you begin to plan, you will find some types of documents and files that are less important than others. In our next article in this series, we discuss different migration strategies you can use based on your decisions about handling your critical data and other types of data in terms of what to migrate and when. For now, check these 3 basic tips that can help you prepare for a smooth migration and drive cloud adoption successfully:

  • Be ready to collaborate—More often than not, migrations involve a plethora of stakeholders. So, it’s safe to say that you’ll spend a lot of time collaborating with the different teams in your organization during the planning phase to figure all this out.
  • Phase your migration—You’ll probably find it much more challenging to try to migrate everything at once. So, during your planning, you should consider migrating your data and workloads to cloud services in phases. This way, if something goes wrong, it won’t impact your entire operation.
  • Start small—By migrating a few applications at a time, maybe starting with those less critical to your business, you can roll your application back more quickly with minimal downtime and ensure business continuity.

Data security

Since data breaches can be catastrophic for an organization, data security should be a big concern when considering a move to cloud services. Generally speaking, cloud services secure the infrastructure, but it’s your responsibility to secure your data and workloads.

It’s mission-critical to manage the security of your data in transit and at rest both during and after your migration. So be sure your migration strategy addresses the methods for ensuring this, as well as your security policies and best practices, before you move your very first file.

The first step into your Microsoft 365 cloud adoption journey

Now that you have a framework for understanding the non-linear nature of the Microsoft 365 cloud adoption journey, along with the benefits and challenges you can expect with your cloud migration journey, in our next article, we’ll turn our attention to the planning phase.

There, we’ll dive deeper into the planning phase, which is required to build a solid Microsoft 365 migration strategy. We’ll also show you how ShareGate can streamline that process for you! 

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Karuana Gatimu

INTERVIEW WITH KARUANA GATIMU How to achieve frictionless IT governance