As time passes, the benefits of migrating technology to the cloud continue to multiply. Cloud computing began as an idea to move IT operations, data, and software away from on-premises equipment and into large, scalable, reliably maintained shared servers across the world. However, it has since evolved into a second-nature best practice for an ever-increasing number of organizations.
To meet that demand, Capital Techies staffers have continued to add cloud-based products to the Capital Techies catalog from Microsoft, Adobe, Intuit, Symantec, Veritas, Okta, Amazon Web Services, and more. We’ve also begun to migrate our own IT infrastructure to the cloud.
In thinking about cloud implementation for nonprofits, we thought it would be helpful to share Capital Techies’ own cloud migration experience to Microsoft Office 365. Whether you’re considering the shift, are in the middle of a migration, or are way past us, we hope your organization can gain some insights.
Michael Davis, Capital Techies’ senior engineer, was already familiar with cloud migration prior to coming on board in 2015. At his previous two jobs, Davis had assisted both small and large-scale businesses in moving their IT infrastructure away from on-premises servers.
“When I came to Capital Techies, … [it] already had a cloud strategy that had begun prior to my arrival,” Davis noted. “And one of the reasons I was interested in working at Capital Techies was my desire to take the knowledge I gained moving other organizations to the cloud and help Capital Techies do it as well.”
Why Capital Techies Making the Switch
There are several reasons why Capital Techies is moving to the cloud. “We want to have improved security, we want to gain efficiency by reducing the cost of operating multiple datacenters, and we want to improve the availability of our internal IT resources,” Davis explained.
He continued that the cloud acts more like a service than a finite resource, which provides organizations with greater flexibility in their tech operations.
Cloud security is superior to on-premises security. Large cloud providers such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are able to allocate greater resources to protecting datacenters against cybercrime, power outages, and damages from catastrophic events. In turn, the cost and time needed to maintain on-premises datacenters is significantly reduced — thus allowing organizations to be leaner and more efficient.
From both a user and a tech administrator standpoint, working in the cloud increases efficiency by providing greater accessibility. Cloud-based versions of Word, Excel, and Outlook can be securely accessed from any device, anywhere.
Cloud-based identity management tools are software programs that provide different levels of employee access to things like email and applications. For example, Microsoft Azure Active Directory (AD) allows administrators to manage how employees gain entry to technical resources across the organization from a single dashboard.
In order to complete the next stage of Capital Techies’ cloud migration strategy, Capital Techies staffers need to move our current productivity software to Microsoft Office 365.
The Migration in Action
To start, we needed to get a clear picture of where the organization was from a technical perspective.
“First there was analysis, where we determined what would make the migration the least risky in terms of data loss, how to be efficient with people’s time, and our own readiness to make the change,” Davis said.
At that point, Davis determined that it was best to first replicate our identity management system to Microsoft Azure Active Directory — which exists in cloud-based datacenters. But in our case, Capital Techies’ Active Directory will continue to exist both on-premises and in a replicated state in the cloud. That’s because we still have core infrastructure in local datacenters.
But our goal is to add more cloud-based resources, and because of that, we’ll also need our Azure Active Directory to be up to date.
“Once our identity management is in the cloud and we’ve updated our Azure Active Directory, we can then start leveraging that for an Office 365 migration,” Davis explained.
The first part of Capital Techies’ Office 365 migration will be to move the Capital Techies Exchange server — which is used for employee email — to the cloud. This is a good example of what Davis means by “a semi-hybrid state.”
Currently, when an employee uses Outlook or another email client to access email, the data exists on email servers in Capital Techies’ datacenters. There’s some maintenance overhead required to ensure reliability of such a mission-critical resource. Once the migration is complete, all employee email will exist in the cloud, and this overhead will be reduced significantly. Data recovery and archiving processes will still exist, but they will be much more manageable.
The Road Ahead
Davis pointed out that moving Capital Techies’ identity management to the cloud has much larger implications than upgrading its email server and intranet.
“Now that we have cloud-based identity management, we can start tying our other platforms to third-party solutions like Okta, so that we can see single sign-on across all the tools and applications we use,” he said. “This way we can control the authorization and authentication of all the applications we use in the cloud for anyone using these resources. This provides more security and more control over the privacy and data storage requirements we have for different vendors.”
And that’s where things are at the moment here at Capital Techies. We hope you found this view into Capital Techies’ own tech strategy valuable. Next up, Capital Techies plans to move its SharePoint intranet away from on-premises servers. Stay tuned for another update once Capital Techies meets another milestone in the cloud migration process.