The ‘cloud’ – and cloud computing generally – has brought about a revolution in IT, networking and a whole range of business processes.
It allows organisations to ‘pay as they go’ for services, hardware infrastructure and IT software.
This means that business processes and applications including email, Voice over IP telephony (VoIP), file sharing, back-up storage, hosting, collaboration and project management and desktop software can be hosted and maintained remotely by specialists – yet used virtually as normal by workers.
Benefits of Moving to the Cloud
There are many advantages of moving your business to the cloud. Let’s have a look at a few of them.
- New efficiencies
Cloud software systems are updated in the Cloud, removing the requirement for manual updates to in-house server-based software. The same is true of hardware such as servers, which are typically housed in secure, remote data centres where they are maintained, supported and upgraded by the Cloud services provider.
The result is a significant reduction in the requirement of in-house IT resource, as many of the responsibilities are shifted to the Cloud provider.
- Capital outlay reduction
A key benefit of moving to the cloud is the reduction in capital outlay needed to purchase server hardware and software systems, replacing this with a monthly or ‘per user’ payment plan.
This means that you’re only ever paying for the services you need at any given time. And when those requirements change, your software can be scaled up or down quickly, so you keep costs under control whilst benefiting from speed and agility.
- Flexible Working
Cloud computing makes it possible for your workforce to use software systems and access data at any time, using any device and from any location.
Collaboration across a distributed workforce – even internationally – becomes as simple as working in a single office. File sharing over the cloud enables employees in these different locations to collaborate on projects in real time, safe in the knowledge that any file they are working on is the relevant version of that file, rather than having to rely on sending updates back and forth.
- Secure Data Storage
A data loss caused by hacking, human error or natural disaster can lead to massive financial and reputational damage, sometimes to the point of closing a business down. Migrating to the cloud deals with this risk in two main ways.
Your data will be housed in remote servers protected against risks such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks. If you choose your cloud service provider carefully then your data will be encrypted too.
Also, data stored in the cloud can be updated automatically, to a timetable which suits the data profile of your business. Regular back-up of this kind means that, even if the worst happens, the data you need will be available again before your business can be damaged.
Planning the Move
Your move to the Cloud must be considered carefully and planned well in advance.
First of all, consult with the staff who will be using your new cloud services. This consultation will do two things:
- Allow you to explain to them exactly what a move to the cloud can do for your business
- Dispel any misconceptions about the cloud that they might have.
Consulting with staff before launching into the move will thus help ensure ‘buy-in’ to the whole process, greatly increasing the project’s chances of success.
Having consulted with staff and analysed your requirements in depth you should be able to draw up a list of processes and applications to prioritise for a move to the cloud.
Use factors such as security, working flexibility, improved efficiency and any cost savings that will be realised to prioritise your ‘shopping list’ to find the cloud service provider best suited to your needs, and also to draw up a detailed plan for the process of moving itself.
Consider also the technical requirements.
For example, the speed of your current internet connection will be key to your success, as cloud-based systems call for more bandwidth than those hosted in your premises.
Assess your current internet connection and research the cost of having it upgraded to facilitate the move. If this cost isn’t included in your budget, you may find yourself having to cut corners later.
Having decided to make the move to the Cloud, you’ll need to decide which Cloud model is best suited to your purposes. This means choosing between a public and private cloud solution, or opting for a hybrid of the two.
- Public Cloud – the ‘off the peg’ solution which is generally less expensive to set up and will be ready to use whenever you want to move.
- Private Cloud – a private cloud managed by an IT partner can be tailored to your specific needs. It is therefore more suited to a niche business model, though may cost more.
- Hybrid – this involves working through your services and deciding which need to be handled by your in-house team on existing servers and which can be farmed out to a public Cloud provider.
Your choice should be based on a detailed cost-benefit analysis of all your services, analysing which will be more cost-effective if handled in house and which need to be switched to the cloud.
If you opt for a hybrid solution, it’s crucial that there is a seamless link between the servers housed on your premises and those in the cloud.
Finding a Managed Service Provider
As a managed service provider, Alliance Solutions can work with you through every stage of the process outlined here.
We’ve delivered cloud migrations for every size and type of business, and so we understand both the challenges and the opportunities. Our job is to walk you through the process of moving to the Cloud by asking you the right questions and making you aware of all the high-level issues – as well as the detail.
If you’re planning to make a move to the Cloud, and want more information on where to start, download our Buyer’s Guide to Moving to the Cloud. It goes into in-depth detail and arms you with all the key knowledge you need, the questions you need to ask, and the factors you need to consider.
You can also call Alliance Solutions on 0800 292 2100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a meeting.