Moving to the cloud can be a great opportunity for small businesses, offering a ‘pay as you go’ model, greater flexibility and access to the latest technology and support. However, the transition from traditional to cloud based options can be challenging if not managed effectively.
Read our 11 top tips to make successful migration as smooth as possible
Develop clear business goals
Start by understanding your business goals and how IT can support these. This will put you in a much better position to decide if the cloud is the best option for you and how you will really use it.
Identify cloud opportunities
Think about the potential applications or processes that could be moved into the cloud, within your business. For example, are you due to upgrade an application soon or is there a new area of the business which might benefit from the cloud? When you’re just getting started, it make sense to identify the lower risk areas for initial migration so you can develop your skills, knowledge and experience as you go, before you move on to bigger migration projects.
Understand the three cloud computing service models
Read up about the type of cloud models that are available to you. These are: Software as a Service (SaaS) offering ready-made online applications and software suites; Platform as a Service (PaaS) providing online tools and components for developing bespoke applications; and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering computing resources such as virtual servers and data storage.
Research your options
There are numerous cloud options available to businesses so make sure you shop around. Weigh up important factors such as your business needs, the cost, technical support, security, contract terms and any other information which could impact your business now or in the future as you grow.
Identify the cost benefits
Think about the real cost benefits of moving parts or all of your business into the cloud.
This will require you to review the charges of a potential cloud vendor, but also the associated costs you’re likely to incur from the move itself. This could include maintenance, upgrades, internal resources and data migration. However, you can also take this time to consider the benefits you can gather in return such as saving money and time, improving efficiency and boosting productivity.
Create a cloud migration strategy
Once you’ve decided on the ‘what’ and ‘where’, you need to think about the ‘how’. Your plan for moving into the cloud should map out distinct stages to ensure each step of the move is correctly deployed before getting too far along in the process and finding issues which could derail a successful cloud migration.
Take account of integration requirements
As mentioned previously, it’s important that your new cloud-based solution is capable of integrating with the internal systems you already have. However, it’s also vital to think about the cloud solutions you are like to acquire in the future too. Application programming interfaces (APIs) play an increasingly important role in enabling such integration.
Find an appropriate service level agreement (SLA)
When purchasing from a cloud service provider, you must either accept their standard SLA or seek to agree a variation on this. If you are relying on cloud computing for critical parts of your business IT, then a reliable provider is crucial. Alternatively, you can negotiate an SLA that includes significant penalties for not delivering the agreed level of service.
Establish data ownership
It’s important that you consider how you are storing data in the cloud in line with legal and compliance requirements. You should establish what happens to your data if a service agreement is terminated, or if the provider’s business fails. Don’t forget to test your backups from the cloud, don’t just assume that they’ll work!
Identify security capabilities
You’re likely to be storing critical business data within the cloud, so make sure that your chosen provider is offering the many levels of security required, including identity management, access control, authorisation and authentication.
Determine your exit strategy
As with any other piece of software you’re using, it’s important to find out right away how you will get your data back from a third party provider should you decide to leave, or the provider goes out of business. It will help to avoid getting locked into a contract by establishing how easily you can leave, any costs and how long it could take.
Do you want to learn more about getting the most out of the cloud, or find out about other tools to help manage your business?
Register for a free Superfast Business Wales workshop. Take a look at the list of topics we cover!