Cloudy skies with cloud computing services available to take care of everything from your accounts to your backups, it’s no surprise that small businesses are moving to the cloud in increasing numbers.
But just hold on a moment. While cloud computing might think it’s ready for them, not every business is ready for cloud computing.
Neil Cross from Advanced 365 explains seven key things to consider before adding cloud computing to your IT strategy.
1. Work out what you want to achieve and why
Every aspect of your business IT should be about improving how your company operates in some way.
It’s not about technology for technology’s sake. Cloud computing is no different, so make sure you understand what improvements you want the cloud to bring you.
Consider cloud services alongside other options and evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of each. Moving to cloud computing because it looks cheap and everyone else is using it? That’s not a good enough reason.
2. Understand your overall business needs – not just IT needs
Many businesses decide to adopt cloud computing to make their IT systems more efficient.
However, cloud computing can mean fundamental changes to your IT infrastructure, so it’s vital the proposed changes are well-suited to your entire business. Cost savings alone may not be enough to justify such big changes.
3. Prepare thoroughly before you start using it
It might seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many businesses don’t do this. Plan the introduction of cloud computing meticulously. Work out how it will be adopted, managed and monitored.
You can access ‘on demand’ cloud services in minutes with your credit card – this can be a good way to experiment with different options and try some practical examples of cloud computing in your business. However, this doesn’t mean you should become complacent about the planning required.
4. Make it less complicated as well as less expensive
Cloud computing won’t necessarily save you money. Most cloud services appear cheap, because they charge a small amount each month. But those monthly fees can soon add up.
Additionally, things might get more complicated. You’ll have to work out how to manage your cloud supplier(s) and how to link the different parts of your business IT together.
Consider both cost and complexity when evaluating cloud options.
5. Think about the risks
Carefully consider the potential risks of cloud computing, as well as the benefits. Will your data be held safely and securely? Is your chosen cloud computing supplier reliable and experienced?
6. Choose the right partner
Your choice of cloud computing supplier will be key. Don’t judge on cost alone. It’s far more important that your supplier can manage their services in line with your requirements.
Choose your cloud computing supplier with the same care you would pick any other key supplier. Check what level of service they guarantee, what support is available, how they monitor your service and – crucially – how and where your data is stored and protected.
Carefully check the hours your cloud provider’s support team is available. You’ll probably want to choose a provider offering 24/7 telephone support, so you can get things fixed quickly if there’s a problem.
7. Decide what service level agreement (SLA) you need
If you’ll be relying on cloud computing for crucial parts of your business IT, you need it to be reliable. For instance, if your customer database is in the cloud, losing it even for just an hour or two could cause huge disruption.
An SLA is a commitment to you from the cloud provider. It should guarantee a certain level of availability for the service, and detail how quickly you’ll get a response in the event of any problems.
SLAs are contractually binding and give you a performance guarantee you can hold your cloud provider to.