By Sarah Ledgerwood

Published on Fri, December 13, 2019

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So you’re packing up and moving to the Cloud? As corporations of all shapes and sizes are rapidly adopting the Cloud, whether you’ve already started or are just beginning the process, it’s critical to take the time to create an effective strategy to ensure your migration project’s success.

Top Three Things That Could Derail Your Cloud Migration Project

What really is the Cloud? If you’re in the thick of a migration, I’m sure you’re well aware of the persistent misperceptions around the Cloud, but lest we forget, “Cloud” is nothing new and is really just another word for the Internet. If your organization still isn’t convinced, it can help to keep the primary benefits of migrating to the Cloud top of mind when you’re embarking on a migration project: how you’ll alleviate the numerous expenses and cumbersome maintenance involved with the physical ownership of servers, and how you’ll transfer the security risk of maintaining those servers to your chosen Cloud provider.

With the stunning statistic from Microsoft that 70% of the Fortune 500 are using Office 365, there’s no question migrating to the Cloud is a foregone conclusion for effectively managing your company’s data. Facing a migration of this magnitude can be daunting, especially considering the enormous amounts of electronic data typically generated and stored on premise by the average corporation.

Even with the known advantages of the Cloud, including the ability to easily scale up or down, reducing cost due to the elimination of physical maintenance, having immediate access to the latest technology and features, and the best in security monitored by your chosen Cloud provider, it’s still necessary to make a detailed plan for your migration. Here are three things you should keep at the forefront that could have the potential to swiftly derail your Cloud migration project.

  1. IT and Legal not collaborating early - There’s no one-size-fits-all data migration strategy. To get your migration started on solid ground, a plan developed with input from both IT and Legal should be the first priority, and while IT may be responsible for the technical migration, Legal and Compliance teams must take ownership over the governance aspects of the data. Most migrations involve the transfer of large amounts of complex types of data, so migrating to a Cloud platform like Office 365 will typically involve a thorough audit by both IT and Legal of your content that results in a clear data map. A migration also affords the perfect opportunity for IT and Legal to take stock of what your organization needs to keep and what you should get rid of altogether. Without this type of clear plan and collaboration between IT and Legal, you could cause a mess within your company that will be difficult to untangle. In addition, your target platform, if Office 365, could possibly replace legacy compliance technologies and this education and strategy mapping takes time so collaboration and early planning is critical. Finally, don’t forget to decide how you will clearly communicate the migration plan to employees as you would with any other major IT and Legal undertaking.
  2. Underestimating the time and resources needed – The first step before implementing a migration should be to look at your environment and correct any issues that may be underlying pre-migration. Once you’ve developed a thoughtful migration plan and have a clear picture of what data you’re migrating and what you’re leaving behind, be careful to build in enough time for the migration project from end to end. Understanding your company’s existing software architecture and infrastructure will help you to define the time, resources, and cost that will be required to complete your ambitious Cloud migration. Be sure to evaluate the amount of data to be migrated from the content audit you’ve performed, and also keep in mind if you’re running old programs or servers, they could pose a challenge that requires an upgrade prior to your migration. In addition, since there isn’t typically one person in charge of the Cloud at most companies and a committee-based approach is more often the case, it can take extra time to reach consensus on decisions.
  3. Failing to put a solid plan in place with a viable sequence – I’m sure you’ve heard of nightmare scenarios where a migration is completed and employees immediately experience a day at work akin to the sky is falling where nothing works as promised. Ensuring in advance that your plan is solid, cross-organizational, and has a good sequence in place that includes testing, production testing, a POC, and a pilot before you pull the trigger on your Cloud migration could be the key component that will make or break the migration’s success. The better the plan, the better the migration. Maybe you forgot to account for third-party tools or you didn’t configure them properly? Conducting testing will identify this error and allow you to correct it before your Cloud solution is rolled out to all employees and the platform inevitably doesn’t perform the way you expected. In addition, this is the time where you’ll want to make sure you’ve fully trained your employees so they can help you identify any major issues before the migration is operational.

Undertaking a Cloud migration is no small feat. Before you embark on this mega-sized IT adventure, the moral of the story is to prepare as much as possible by creating a solid plan with IT and Legal in sync, and know the ins and outs of your data along with the potential issues that can happen. If you have any stories to share from your migration journey, especially pitfalls you’ve fallen into that others may be able to avoid, please email me at or catch me on Twitter at @sarahewood. I’d love to share your experience with others who are about to embark on the Cloud migration journey.

About the Author
Sarah Ledgerwood

eDiscovery Evangelist and Marketing Content Strategist

Sarah is an eDiscovery Evangelist and Marketing Content Strategist at Lighthouse. She has over 18 years of experience across the legal, technology, and marketing industries since graduating from law school. She specializes in creating digital marketing strategy and content for Lighthouse. She particularly enjoys the challenge of translating and communicating the benefits of legal technology to help clients innovate and optimize their information governance and ediscovery programs. Her expertise in ediscovery began in the early days when she supported clients in a project management capacity on a multitude of cases including regulatory investigations and complex litigation. She earned her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington, and J.D. from American University in Washington, D.C.