This is a great time to move collaborative applications and content to the cloud, but making the jump without the right tools can be complicated, costly, risky, and disruptive.
Several innovative market dynamics have recently converged to create compelling incentives for organizations to move parts or all of their traditional on-premises collaboration and content portfolio to the cloud (e.g., to Microsoft Office 365). CASAHL has been focused on enterprise collaboration/content optimization for more than two decades, and in this post we share some of our insights about common challenges involved in leveraging new cloud collaboration and content opportunities.
The first challenge involves discovery, in order to create a full inventory of already-deployed collaboration and content resources. For most organizations, this entails scanning collaborative applications and content spread across multiple systems (e.g., IBM Notes/Domino, Microsoft SharePoint, and often several other systems ranging from Web-based file sharing services to legacy enterprise content management deployments). Without an automated and multi-source discovery approach, this task can be a time-consuming and imprecise exercise.
Once the existing resources have been inventoried, a second challenge involves analysis, making it possible to have a detailed and fact-based review of the current collaboration and content environment. Without determining which applications and content are still actually being used, for example, organizations typically end up needlessly wasting significant resources when transitioning to cloud platforms.
A third challenge involves rationalization, enabling the business users and technology team to jointly produce a detailed and prioritized transition project plan. Rationalization informed by the output from discovery and analysis makes it possible to identify and consolidate or eliminate redundant content and collaborative applications. This step is critically important for several reasons, including:
- Efficiency: not redundantly sending or storing content in the cloud
- Effectiveness: making it easier for people to find the right content and applications
- Risk management: ensuring all business-critical content is accounted for, e.g., for audit purposes
With a detailed and prioritized plan prepared, the next challenge is transition, harvesting the still-valuable resources from the previously deployed systems and taking full advantage of new cloud capabilities. It’s critically important to maximize the extent to which converting collaboration and content resources to cloud deployments can be automated. Without a high degree of automation, the transition can result in open-ended schedules and unnecessarily expensive dependencies on professional services providers.
A related challenge, for many organizations, is facilitating productive coexistence between on-premises and cloud-based collaborative applications and content. On-premises to cloud conversions are rarely a “rip and replace” proposition, and a subset of previously-deployed applications and content may remain active for a period of time. To fully leverage new cloud opportunities while still getting the most value from existing investments, we have found it’s sometimes necessary to support a hybrid on-premises/cloud solution set, but this must also be done in a way that doesn’t needlessly complicate activities for information workers.
Once the transition to the cloud is completed, an ongoing challenge involves not repeating the counterproductive patterns and practices that ultimately resulted in shortcomings in the earlier collaboration and content deployments. Having discovered, analyzed, and rationalized collaboration and content resources during the cloud transition, effectively addressing this challenge means the resources stay optimized over time, rather than drifting in ways that would again eventually result in redundancy and other types of inefficiency and risk.
CASAHL has completed thousands of successful enterprise collaboration and content conversions since the mid-1990s (originally on-premises to on-premises conversions, e.g., Notes/Domino to SharePoint, and more cloud-focused, e.g., targeting Office 365, during the last several years), and is uniquely well positioned to help organizations of all sizes leverage new cloud collaboration and content opportunities. In our next few posts, we’ll elaborate on the challenges and activities highlighted in this post, along with the CASAHL products and solutions that make it possible to rapidly and cost-effectively make the jump to the new cloud platforms.