The benefits of the cloud are clear: these technologies help companies scale efficiently, reduce costs, reinforce security and provide faster services to customers. With many new players entering the cloud market, businesses have a range of options to build their ideal configurations. You can implement the cloud in full or in part. You can even stage your transition to the cloud over a number of years. You’re in control.
Even still, the decision-making process can be challenging. How do you manage initial costs? How do you ensure the same security levels as your on-premise systems. How do you know whether you’re choosing the right provider? Your due diligence process should start with the following questions.
What support will you need?
IT leaders and business owners will often jump to evaluating technology first. You want the best possible systems at the lowest possible costs. But how will you get these ideal configurations up and running? How will you make sure that your initial implementation positions you to grow?
You may have the resources and expertise that you need internally. If you don’t, however, you’ll want to find help from the outside.
“Understand support tiers and programs,” says Chris Merkle, founder at app development company Razur. “Do you need 24/7 support by email, from a dedicated tech support staff? During times of extreme growth, you do not want to deal with downtime: during such times you want to be able to pick up the phone and talk to someone.”
To start, you’ll need to understand how the cloud integrates with your development and IT needs. Does your team understand the hosting environment? Can you backup and migrate your data? Can you scale easily?
“Most services offer plugins to automate scaling during peak traffic spike,” says Merkle. “Consider if you want to have automated scaling or you want to have more control over when to scale, as it does impact pricing.”
For everything else, you may need more guidance.
When it comes to the cloud there are two misconceptions: that the cloud is too costly or complex to implement. No matter how challenging some processes are to deploy, however, it’s important to get help.
“Look at your technology needs strategically,” says K. Alexander Ashe, CEO & founder of financial intelligence app development company Spendology. “Identify processes and services to move to the Cloud that will result in productivity or efficiency gains.”
In other words, you want to figure out where the business risks outweigh the rewards, why and how.
“Understand the ins and outs of the Cloud service from cost structure, backup policy, downtime, server location, expected server load, peak and non-peak pricing,” says Ashe.
“There can be a lot to keep track of when it comes to analyzing the business value of a move to the Cloud,” said Brendan Fortune, Director of Product Management at web and cloud hosting company, Media Temple. “Don’t underestimate the value of getting help from those who have done it before, whether they’re an in-house employee, a Managed Service Provider (MSP), or just a friend.”
This comprehensive perspective will help you determine, prioritize and deploy your investments. The cloud will become an integral part of your business, so you want to make sure that you’re aligning the right technologies with the right operations. Focus on making your business the best possible version of itself.
“Cloud technology has leveled the playing field for new entrants,” says Ashe. “In the past, a company would need to acquire and host their own web servers which was extremely cost prohibitive, especially considering the server costs, cooling and power requirements.”
What does the future hold?
When it comes to cloud-based server configurations, the options are almost limitless. As more technologies become integrated and hosted in the cloud, companies will have more flexibility to use their existing systems. Box, for instance, supports a full partner ecosystem, in which customers can connect tools like Okta for single sign-on, Asana for project management and Microsoft Office for productivity.
“Focus on how cloud integration can speed up technology deployments, improve the security of your data and make the presentation of information more uniform,” says Jonathan Bentz, marketing manager at Netrepid.
“Also, because integrating the cloud into your business plan will lead to a decreased dependence on hardware, additional funding should be focused on acquiring access to greater Internet bandwidth and securing your environment for BYOD and a distributed workforce.”
The cloud should be integrated into your business initiatives but should also be positioned to improve systems, integrations and infrastructure scalability.
“More technologies are being integrated and virtualized than ever before, and because of that there can be greater flexibility in technology discussions,” says Bentz. “While the cloud certainly needs to be a part of any technology strategy for a business plan, businesses need to focus first on creating a unified IT infrastructure.”
Read next: Why startups should shift to the cloud
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