A lot has been said about the cloud and there is still a lot more to come. That’s because cloud computing really does deliver the advantages that it promises: reduced cost, more accurate provisioning, easier management and access to better services (and a wider range, too). But for many, moving to the cloud remains a worrying proposition. Is it secure, will it work for MY business, what are the catches?
There is a growing body of evidence (including case studies and reference clients) which are helping to dispel the concerns – but for those thinking about cloud, here are our top five things to consider.
1. Do you Need it?
Probably. Cloud has gone from an interesting idea to business essential in 5 years, like some other IT services (think mobile in 2005, and email in 1995). When it comes to servers and storage, it is just no longer effective, in both costs and capability, to run your own. For most organisations, the best time to make the move is at the next hardware refresh.
2. What are you Migrating?
The most concise description of cloud is probably ‘someone else's computers’. Moving to cloud means migrating some or all server applications and data from your own hardware to equipment housed, operating and managed in a professional-grade data centre. Odds are excellent that the level of security, management and control are exponentially greater than anything your business could realistically afford. That means better availability and performance for those critical business applications and services.
3. Do the costs stack up?
Think back to the last hardware refresh…the scars on the company chequebook are probably still there. Migrating to the cloud has benefits which go well beyond the elimination of capital expenditure, but for most businesses, no capex, is in itself a major (and excellent) reason supporting a move to the cloud. More money in the bank at day one and the good news gets better as the financial wins keep coming. After all, business continuity and disaster recovery is built into most cloud services. And no more tape drives, ever.
4. Which service provider is the best?
If you’re well down the track with deciding to move into the cloud, the next big question you need to ask is ‘which provider’. The good news is that there are a number of options available (that can also be bad news…you still don’t know which one). Your choice should be guided by your IT professionals –whether it is Microsoft’s Azure, Amazon Web Services or a local datacentre, look for local skills, support and a proven track record in delivery.
5. Will my data be secure?
Ahh, THAT question! It comes up all the time because it is important. Very important. It is also probably the number one concern for any new cloud services customer; you have to get used to the idea of ‘someone else’s computers’ rather than the comfort of having systems and data under your own lock and key. The short answer is also a simple one: yes. In fact, it is probably going to be more secure by far than anything you could have put in place yourself. That’s because cloud services providers have to make sure every aspect of data security (and persistence) is provided for. It’s their bread and butter, after all.