Ensuring Compliance During Data Center Migration to the Cloud

Migrating IT systems and infrastructure to a private or public cloud is no easy task, and can be challenging even for the most experienced IT team. But the migration of data centers to the cloud is an excellent way to rethink, redesign and enhance your IT architecture. A data center migration to the cloud has several advantages for an organization of which reduction in overall capital spend and operational costs, higher flexibility and scalability of the IT infrastructure, shorter time-to-market, and better adherence to security and compliance standards top the charts.

Eager to partake of these and other benefits, several organizations tend to rush into the process, without either understanding data migration risks or paying much attention to a carefully planned and phased execution. Moreover, as technical skills, as well as cloud technology, have evolved immensely, moving to the cloud has become that much easier. As a result, several data center migrations end up being unstable and prone to crashes, adding to the cost and complexities of migration of data center to cloud and stopping organizations from realizing the full benefits involved.

You need to ensure that your migration of data center to the cloud is executed without affecting business operations, service delivery, and most importantly data security and compliance requirements. And if you’re adopting a hybrid model, compliance with regulations becomes even more important. For instance, if your marketing team needs to access applications in the cloud from multiple locations, or the sales team needs access to sensitive customer data no matter where they are while using mobile devices, compliance and data protection becomes paramount.

So how can you balance the complexity of matching compliance with different user needs? You need to implement a unified program that can govern access and control, irrespective of whether the security checks and gateways monitoring the access to an application and protecting the data stored within are located onsite or in the cloud. In tandem with a data center migration to the cloud, your IT team has to establish a comprehensive universal compliance policy and push it out to gateways and security applications, be it onsite or in the cloud.

Here is a distill of some best practices for ensuring compliance during a data center cloud migration to safeguard your organization and minimize data center migration risks.

Evaluate your enterprise data

If you’ve decided to move your data center to the cloud, look at it as an excellent opportunity to take stock of your data and evaluate what data you really need to store and move. Ask yourself questions like – Do I really need to keep all the assets? Is the data in a format that is future-ready or can be digitized? What are my policies on storing and securing my data and how closely are my teams adhering to these policies?

Most cloud vendors are well-versed with the tools available to evaluate data assets and to ensure data governance. Make sure your cloud vendor also has good knowledge of the exact tools and practices required for your specific domain and user needs. As a best practice, do away with unnecessary data (while retaining what’s legally required) so that you can reduce your liability in case of a security breach.

Establish a solid compliance process

Hold on! Before you begin throwing away all that data, have you ensured compliance with all possible requirements surrounding that data? This is very important especially if you’re operating in an industry like finance or healthcare, and especially if you work with a government organization. There are strict penalties and possibly disastrous consequences if data is not safeguarded properly…even when you’re going to expel all that extra load. And the liability and responsibility lays with you because compliance to the regulations governing responsible data use is incumbent on the enterprise migrating a data center to the cloud. It’s alright if you’re not fully aware of the regulatory requirements. That’s why you should outsource to a cloud vendor offering a comprehensive data center migration solution and who knows the regulatory landscape and the continuous changes it undergoes.

Pick the proper data center migration solution for the job

The next important decision is to choose the right tools for a safe and compliant data center migration. Simply put, don’t use a hammer where a chisel will do. Your data will need to be cleaned, audited, modernized or changed in some other way. So the tools you – or your cloud vendor – decide upon should let you finish the job efficiently and cost-effectively.

Control access to data throughout the migration

Just because you are moving your data center to the cloud does not mean that the data becomes available to anyone. You would already have put in place controlled access to data based on the principle of least privileges, and allowed a user access specifically to data he/she needs to perform their job. The same principle must be followed when migrating a data center to the cloud, with only need-based user access to data during the actual migration process. Additionally, during transit, you must encrypt the data because it is likely to be most vulnerable to attacks as it moves between two locations.

Post the migration, users should be allowed to access data as before. Best practices like two-factor authentication for access control and data deduplication for reducing the data storage footprint will also help streamline the migration and minimize data center migration risks.

Most organizations that move their data center to the cloud fail to perform adequate due diligence. They attempt a data center migration without fully understanding the level of security and compliance measures involved. Hiring a cloud vendor to do this for you because they will own the responsibility to provide security measures, and will be more knowledgeable about the latest tools and best practices that will keep your data safe and your organization compliant.