Devil in the Details: Moving from On-Premise to Cloud-Hosted Solutions


As demand for IT resources continues to grow, enterprises are increasingly focused on how to manage high-volume workloads such as email and collaboration tools more efficiently, both within the enterprise and for mobile users. In response, enterprise software publishers are extending cloud-hosted alternatives to their traditional on-premise solutions, and are indeed pushing their sales organizations to lead with cloud options.

While hosted solutions offer potential benefits that sound compelling, customers need to be aware of the complexity and risk associated with moving to a public data center. Many of these risks are well-documented and include privacy and security requirements within regulated industries, where moving to a public cloud can by definition result in non-compliance. In addition, many global companies do business in countries that have strict “data residency” requirements that can compromise the overall value proposition of the hosted alternative.

Beyond these basic issues, enterprises need to consider a range of devilish details. For one thing, most companies are not current with the on-premise versions of the applications that would be migrated to a hosted offering. This means they’ll need to perform substantial infrastructure remediation to even begin a migration.

In addition, the technology platforms used by the current on-premise solutions are often not the same as those being offered from the cloud-based host and will require extensive third-party involvement to convert data from the source format to the target format.

Application integration issues also need to be researched, either when the current productivity tools have been customized with macros, or when other non-related applications have been email-enabled with the current datacenter servers.

And in most cases, Mobile Device Management needs to be implemented or upgraded to improve the mobile user experience.

A final complicating factor: all of the projects described here touch many areas of the enterprise that typically lack experience with collaboration. This means a significant level of highly structured project management oversight will be needed.

Some keys to navigating this maze of modernization include the following:

  • Evaluate the ROI potential of hosted solutions, factoring in the potential complications outlined above.
  • Understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of hosted solution providers, and how well equipped they are (or aren’t) to help you address potential issues.
  • Identify resources and capabilities needed to assist with the pre-work, remediation and migration work streams that will be required.
  • Use competitive market-based pricing to gauge the user subscription fees that will replace the costs of on-premise licensing and software maintenance. Recognize that it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison and adjust as needed.
About the author

After a 20 year career with Microsoft, Louis has compiled a track record of Enterprise client success underpinned by customer focus, strategic thinking, organizational agility, problem-solving acumen and impactful knowledge transfer which has established his reputation as a Microsoft licensing expert.