How To Migrate Files To Your New Cloud Service Without Interrupting Users

It’s like you’re moving into new digs.

All of your possessions, from that clunky furniture to your prized valuables, have to go in one epic swoosh. Everything you’ve amassed is about to fly out the door. You’ll probably fret over the likelihood of broken dishware, dented tabletops and lost jewelry. Before your life can return to some sense of normalcy, though, you first must endure this impending headache.

In much the same way, this is what it can feel like when you are setting up your new cloud file-sharing environment. It holds the potential for all kinds of unpleasantries – lost files, dreaded procedures and grueling training sessions, not to mention hordes of frazzled employees. Suddenly, that headache feels more like a full-fledged migraine.

That will all change with Citrix ShareFile or Box or whatever cloud provider service you’re moving forward with. But first, like clutter in the attic, you’ll need to fumble through all those countless directories of files and folders that have piled up from years past.

So how do you do that, without the pain?

The good news is it’s possible, and it also happens to be well worth it. This move to the cloud will greatly improve efficiency, company-wide. Your employees have long been griping about the inadequacy of the corporate shared drive and VPN connection. It’s too slow, too buggy, too time-consuming, too unreliable, too high-maintenance, and ultimately, too damn much for your growing personnel to continue to have to deal with. All that will change with your new enterprise file sync & share system.

What you’ll find below is a proven plan for painless migrations.

It’s Not Really About The Files

Understand that the company-wide transition is hardly about just pushing company data onto a new location. Your workforce needs to be properly trained to correctly operate in this new environment. Accessing files in the cloud will feel like breaking in a new pair of clogs. What about those ever-accessible folders residing on your desktop? They will no longer be a simple mouse-click away. Even a task as simple as opening a file can be disorienting, if you don’t understand the difference between preview and download.

Nonetheless, your aim with this migration is two-fold:

  1. Ensure that it be time-efficient
  2. Keep the headaches and the inquiries to the support desk to a minimum.

The best transition, of course, is a smooth one – and not the disruptive kind that intrudes on your employees’ daily work routines.

It’s All About The Users

It should come as no surprise that one of the most important parts of a smooth transition to the cloud is good communication with your users. That, supported by strong technology like Cloud FastPath that automates migration tasks and minimizes errors, will get your users productive on the new cloud provider as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Cloud FastPath is an automated, cloud-based service that prides itself as the software equivalent to a service like FedEx: a safe, efficient mechanism for transferring your company’s data onto the cloud. Cloud FastPath is the foundation to a successful transfer mission, and when combined with the right migration plan, will make your transition as effective as possible.

Your Migration Plan

Here’s how you can approach your migration to have it play out smoothly and sensibly:

Planning (2 months before the move): Allow an entire two months before setting a date for your big transition to define the timeline of each step. A calendar of events (like employee training or opening network accounts) will leave time to deal with unforeseen issues. Once you’ve identified the groups and functions affected by the move, determine a specific time to notify users of the impending change. Also, consider launching early test migrations by getting a few early adopters on board for a dry-run of the process. It’s best to target low-usage periods like weekends or holidays for both the tests and the big move.

Brass Tacks (1 month before the move): Release the schedule of events spilling into the planned migration. Create user accounts in the cloud to allow employees to acclimate themselves to their new file sharing service. Continue with training right up to the full-scale migration to help employees prepare. Proactively solicit feedback, encourage questions and try not to get frustrated when users complain—we all know change can be rough.

Pre-migration Monday: You’re a week away, and the nerves are setting in. It’s time to belt out the big announcement. The cloud is moving in. Friday is moving day. Meanwhile, begin the bulk-migration of the relevant drives and/or folder trees right away.

Mid-week Mojo: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…Happy Days. That’s because you’re synchronizing your files in increments, including bulk transfers, and the moving process is fast underway. Continue to send company-wide emails with the latest developments, including links to available ongoing trainings.

Frantic Friday: You feel a dose of TGIAO (Thank God It’s Almost Over). This fantasy seems like reality when your final company-wide email announces the imminent migration. As day spills into night, transform the old network system into a read-only resource, one the users can no longer modify. The final file synchronization is en route to the cloud provider and the environment has now gone live for all users.

Wild Weekend: Incessant testing verifies a successful mission. Upon hearing from many of the system’s users, you’re getting plenty of positive feedback – that the migration was a booming success! People who are working over the weekend can serve as a nice validation point for the system, before everyone else comes back on…

Magic Monday: It’s finally here! Your first full day in your new house. No doubt you’ll receive your share of phone calls, emails and personal inquiries from anxious users. Hold your ground. Ensure that the Cloud FastPath sync has been completed, and set up your reverse sync so that any changes made in the cloud are relayed back to the local drive in the event a few stragglers continue to use it. Then blast out a company-wide email to inform everyone that the migration had come together exceptionally well.

The One-Week Aftermath: You are now settled in to the new network digs. Although the cloud has become quite comfy, you must resume synchronizing all changes from the cloud service provider to your local system, where the usage must be carefully monitored. Announce Last Call. The remaining users of the old network must finish up their business.

The Two-Week Aftermath: Here is the opportunity — if this is part of your plans — to close the doors to the old system. While some may opt to continue using Cloud FastPath’s enterprise sync with their onsite servers indefinitely, others should opt to shut that old system down now. The bar’s closed. Roll up those sleeves and hopefully you won’t need to handle too many support requests, due to your job well done.

A Month Later, Cloud Nine: After a few weeks, you’re sitting on cloud nine. The acclimation to the new environment is complete. The old system is but a waning memory and the company’s newfound relationship with the cloud environment feels copasetic. Archive your previous hard drive and box up the old hardware to provide additional space. The return on investment of moving to a cloud service provider is now coming into focus as you are able to retire expensive servers and storage. With your users now adjusted to the new environment, they regularly tell you they are more productive. Looking back to how things used to be before the migration, this move to the cloud is certainly paying off.

Keep Calm and Migrate Away

Your migration doesn’t need to be a free-for-all. Proper planning and the right tools (like Cloud FastPath) can make for a smooth transition that won’t disrupt your users. Try to keep your migration straightforward and self-contained. Avoid anything crazy like multi-directional file synchronizations between the cloud and your local environment. Focus on training your users and keeping it simple, and all will be well.

Thinking about leveraging cloud file sharing services? Interested in exploring cloud storage? Are you planning your own cloud move-in day? Whatever the case, take a test drive of Cloud FastPath and see how it can help your migration go off without a hitch.