Mon, December 19, 2016

Preparing for the Move to the Cloud

For many organizations, especially in recent years, migration to the cloud has likely been a topic up for debate. How do you know if your business is ready to make the move? What are the benefits? And what is does this cloud migration entail? These are all things to consider before moving a part, or your entire, IT infrastructure from on-premise to the cloud. Centrality has a few tips in making the decision.

Understanding the Current IT Infrastructure

Arguably the most important step is taking an in-depth look at what your IT infrastructure looks like today. Understanding the business applications and their use, an overall picture of your user community, current hardware in place are all elements to be discovered in this assessment. In addition, identify the strengths and weaknesses of the existing IT resources. This will provide a starting point for the next step in planning for any changes needed.

Thinking Ahead

After the initial assessment, determining overall business goals and objectives is the next step. For instance, are there any foreseeable changes in the business? Increase in staff? A new application, or even a new location?

IT should do one of two things: increase revenue, or decrease the cost to operate. It should enhance productivity and efficiency in your business. Based on today’s existing technology environment, are there any changes needed to accomplish either of these? These goals will be the integral part in the customization of your cloud environment.

Choosing a Cloud Services Provider

When selecting a cloud services provider, it is important to understand the depth of the services your organization will be receiving. For instance, will your data will be housed in a public or private cloud? A private cloud environment is ideal – meaning your data, whether in-house or in a datacenter, is not accessible to the general public. Furthermore, the scalability and security of the cloud solution, redundancy for disaster recovery, as well as the level of management, are also topics to uncover.

In some industries, such as healthcare or banking, there are various compliancy standards to be met. Be sure to communicate any industry requirements when determining your provider.

According to Forbes, here are some additional questions that you should ask before beginning your cloud migration.

Planning What to Migrate

Timing as well as what to migrate are also things to consider. For some businesses, it doesn’t make sense to move everything to the cloud at once. Your cloud migration plan may be one step at a time, such as moving email (on-premise Exchange to Office 365), or an application (CRM, accounting software).

In other instances, it can be a portion of your IT infrastructure (one server), or your entire IT operations. How to proceed, whether in phases or an all-in approach, depends on your business needs.

Crunching the Numbers

Every 5 years or so, server equipment, PCs, switches etc. may need replacing. Hard drives and switches fail, oftentimes without much notice – bringing unpredicted IT spend. Think about how much your organization is currently spending on IT altogether – hardware, Microsoft licensing, AV & Backup software, IT staff.

The cloud eliminates the capital expenditure of purchasing IT hardware, as your data is in a datacenter rather than on a physical server in a server closet. Depending on the cloud solution, everything you rely on IT for could be wrapped into one monthly per user fee!

Benefits of the Cloud

As mentioned above, cloud-based infrastructures typically lowers overall cost of technology due to less hardware requirements. With Centrality’s Complete Cloud, you’ll never have to buy another server, PC, or switch again.

Cloud technology also enables mobile access for your user community. Think about the ability to access work-related files from your own personal device at any place, any time rather than stuck on a single machine at the office. For a new or small business, this flexibility and nimbleness is key to adapting and growing strategically while keeping the workforce electronically centralized.

A recent Aberdeen Group study found that businesses using the cloud resolved security issues in an average of 2.1 hours, nearly four times faster than the 8 hours required for businesses not operating out of the cloud. The cloud backs up data off-site which can decrease the probability of hackers, viruses, and other local security issues. Thousands of laptops are lost or stolen each year in airports alone, which would have serious ramifications if crucial data was stored on those local machines.

Although there are many benefits to the cloud, think about which will benefit and make the most sense for your organization directly.

Read our blog post on Why SMB’s Should Consider the Cloud for additional benefits a cloud migration can have on your business.