Chart a confident move to the Cloud
In today’s technology ecosystem, the cloud has come of age and is clearly the “way to go” for business transformation! It has transformed the costs and capabilities of IT service delivery, which makes it no longer a choice, but a necessity, especially for small and medium businesses (SMBs). If we take a closer look at its adoption, it is not surprising to learn that approximately 81% of US companies with 100+ employees are currently using the cloud in some form or other (1). For the rest, it just remains a question of when, not if.
So what makes the cloud technology so exciting for SMBs? The answer is that it simply paves the way to agility, innovation and service differentiation required by SMBs to respond quickly to business opportunities and meet growing customer demands. With added advantage of higher scalability, reduced infrastructure spend, and lower operational costs, SMBs truly get a lot to love about making a move to the cloud. But this move is not easy as it may appear. It is a complex and challenging undertaking that requires the right amount of planning and some contemplation about your primary goals and business objectives. In the end, it all comes down to the questions:
- Where to begin?
- What all does it take to make a viable move to the cloud?
- How to determine if my business is ready for the move?
- What infrastructure investments are required?
- How to choose the right cloud service provider? ….
So here are the 5 steps you can follow to make a confident and viable move to cloud while bringing your focus back on the things that matter.
1. Establish your business priorities
It’s often an area most of the businesses overlook before planning a move to the cloud. Whether it’s consistent business growth, improve profitability, reduce operational overheads or retain customers; as a first step, it’s important that you set your goals and business priorities and identify the need for the cloud. Since cloud provides a virtualized, disparate and multi-tenant computing environment, determine what business processes, guidelines or policies are required to be formed, restructured or dissolved to support the move. It would also comprise an assessment of your user base, whether they are system administrators, executives, software engineers or other non-technical users and the impact, the cloud will have on their everyday work.
2. Choose a Hybrid cloud approach
Let’s face it – ‘One size doesn’t fit all’. Your business processes and workflows are unique to your business. So are your IT needs. Taking a leaf out of someone’s book can pose a high degree of risk to your business. Hence, choose a hybrid cloud approach to keep things simple at first. A hybrid cloud architecture allows you to deploy applications that work on the cloud while keeping the other apps on dedicated servers within your traditional infrastructure. Once you gain considerable experience on this simple hybrid cloud architecture, scale up gradually. You can further take advantage of cloud applications and services being offered on SaaS or Pay-as-you-go model which include Salesforce for managing customer relationships and sales, or Microsoft Office 365 for online access to business productivity tools. AWS or Azure cloud storage services on the other end can serve as an effective means of backing up and/or share data across the organization.
3. Determine your needs for legacy applications migration
Before considering the legacy application migration onto the cloud, keep in mind that not every application will be appropriate for it. The benefits cloud migration offer can get very limited or none because legacy applications leverage technologies that are no longer the standard nor supported by most of the cloud providers. Finding resources with expertise in these particular legacy technologies can also be hard to come by. Hence, it is important for you to determine the need along with implications of such a move on your performance, end-user experience, and the cost it bears to your business or else such a move could trigger disruption with diminishing returns. Nonetheless, if migration seems favorable or inevitable, you must carefully define a migration strategy and factor out the risks pertaining to application availability, business continuity, and data security. Further, consider conducting a readiness assessment to build a full understanding of how the application will work and scale on the cloud and its impact on the end-users and overall business. Knowing that is half the battle won.
4. Select a right cloud provider
Since your objective is to turn your business cloud ready, it’s wise to learn through a test case or avail a POC (proof of concept) for evaluating vendors by asking them to move a non-essential or small part of your business to the cloud before full-scale adoption. This exercise will provide you valuable insights into vendor’s capabilities and their depth of commitment to understand your business and the specific objectives you hope to achieve with the cloud. Remember, while choosing a cloud provider, appraise your long and short terms financial goals as well because the dynamics of cloud alter your IT cost from CapEx to OpEx.
5. Build resilience
Make sure there’s resilient built within the mission-critical and business-critical workloads failing over to another instance of the backend system in the cloud. This ensures your workload continues to function in the event of an outage by using multiple availability zones and colocation sites. Supplement the move by building a robust security governance and performance metrics including tools, technology, people, and processes. It certainly bears an additional cost to your IT budget but it ensures your business is always available to your customers without interruption or any delays.
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