Cloud Readiness Strategy.

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Posted by Sameer Mulla - 18 August, 2020

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Learn how the our client leveraged opportunities in iMIS in preparation to migrate away from iMIS Desktop, as well as be Cloud Ready.

How cloud ready is your organization? COVID19 has affected organizations in many ways. It has shown how nimble an organization is and highlighted any inefficiencies there might be in systems. Very quickly, we were able to find out where we stood when it came to remote support, remote work and remote access to resources - hard and soft.

With all of the cloud options available, dependency on internal infrastructure can be reduced, if not eliminated, and can also result in cost savings.

Here, we are highlighting an approach to an overall cloud readiness strategy, a part of which will also include a migration path away from iMIS desktop.

Inventory your applications, databases, and servers

The inventory phase should be where you start with a high-level network document of your current infrastructure and then document the details of each server and application. All applications that are being used by staff or your constituents needs to be listed and tracked.

Re-factor or re-host:

Once you have a full list of applications, the next step is to decide if you want to re-factor the application or simply re-host (lift and shift).

Re-factoring application code involves utilizing cloud-native tools and converting client-server based legacy applications into micro services-based applications. The benefit of a micro services-based architecture is that the applications then become cloud native and can utilize cloud optimization services such as elastic compute, storage and increased scalability, availability and security.

A lift and shift strategy can be a great starting point to reduce cost of some of the legacy applications as hardware can be provisioned based on usage of the legacy systems.

A good way to approach this is to prioritize the applications that are mission critical, their annual cost of maintenance and evaluate the future needs of extending the application.

Documenting the pain points and the future needs of an application can be a driver in deciding whether that application is a good candidate to re-factor.

Plan the move

Once your inventory is complete, partner with a company that has in-house expertise on all of the major cloud providers, including creating your own private hosted cloud.

Use a phased approach so you can test, be agile and adjust based on changing needs and costs.

Since iMIS is a key application that serves your members and donors, a detailed plan to migrate away from iMIS desktop is essential as part of the overall planning. Below is a checklist as a starting point in that planning.

Checklist for iMIS Desktop Migration Plan:

  1. Custom Stored Procedures and Views - These will need to be converted to Business Objects and new IQAs would need to be developed.
  2. Task Center - Review the jobs and migrate those over to Process Automation so that there is less dependency on this 3rd party application.
  3. 3rd party integrations - Look at any website or application level integration and de-couple the applications (remove any direct access to the iMIS database from any 3rd party application). Start using the REST API to provide any data needed for the 3rd party application, so that the integrations work well with any upgrades to iMIS.
  4. Staff Site training - In preparation of migrating away from the iMIS Desktop, it is imperative to get staff acquainted with all the features available on staff site. Test those in a testing environment first, create the new setups, IQAs and other changes needed and then plan to train staff on all of these features. Have staff re-write SOPs for their daily, weekly, monthly and yearly reports and processes (use a cloud-based document repository to store documentation like MS One Drive/SharePoint or Google Drive)
  5. Custom reports - If you have custom Crystal reports, review which ones are absolutely needed and see if they can be either converted into IQAs (if tabular) or into SSRS Reports. This is the first step before you move to Exago reports.
  6. Payment Gateway - If you are using a custom payment gateway, check with ASI if this will still be supported in the cloud, and if not, start planning the transition.
  7. Automation and Self-Serve - Look at opportunities to automate processes so staff is not bogged down with maintaining basic membership data. Ensure that online self-serve options are maximized so that the customer service load is reduced for your staff.
  8. Look at opportunities in non-iMIS applications to make those maintenance free - Office 365 for staff emails, Send Grid for bulk emails are a few examples that can be tapped right away and will help reduce costs.

Topics: #Cloud #iMIS #NiUG


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