Lessons Learned From the Cloud, Part Deux

Welcome to the second post in this series on lessons learned from cloud messaging deployments. In the last post, (dated May 29, 2012) we covered four lessons learned: defining requirements before you begin, monitoring the cloud service, cloud vendor support, and having servers on-premise even though you’ve gone to the cloud. In this post, we will cover four additional lessons learned.

Enhance user experience and security by implementing identity federation. Instead of having separate credentials (usernames and passwords) to manage in the cloud, enable federated identity to let employees use their corporate credentials—no additional passwords to remember. Choosing to use federated identity also ensures that your organization maintains centralized access control. For example, when an individual leaves the organization, an IT administrator disables the user’s account in the corporate directory. Without federated identity, the administrator must also remember to disable the individual’s email account in the cloud. However, with federation enabled, disabling the account in the corporate directory automatically disables access to the cloud.

Going to the cloud does not get your staff away from mailbox management. Although your email sits in the cloud in a datacenter far, far away, mailboxes still need to be created; and mailbox size, journaling, archiving, and legal compliance are still relevant. Make sure that your personnel receives the training that they need to be successful in completing these tasks; or consider a managed services vendor to outsource these duties further.

Migration to the cloud is more complicated; not less. Organizations struggle with cloud migrations because they often mistake them as quick or turnkey solutions. The choice to migrate to the cloud means that you will be contending with limited bandwidth; firewall and other security issues; and complexity due to the data needing to move across the Internet. Let the decision to go to the cloud be a cost or strategic one—it is certainly not a way to reduce implementation time or complexity.

Expect the unexpected and be flexible. Moving messaging to the cloud will be a change for many IT organizations. You will likely run into unanticipated issues during your implementation. Set up regular meetings to review critical items, and make sure that your team is ready to revise the original plan when needed.

In the next post in the series, we will expand on the topic of defining your cloud messaging solution requirements.

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