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Moving to the Cloud


I’m moving to the cloud!  I hear SME’s say this more than anything else about IT.  When I ask what that means, there’s often an uncertain and delayed response. It reminds me of the early SharePoint portal development days.  I recall a developer telling me businesses would approach him for a portal but many didn’t know what they wanted it to do.  All they knew was they wanted a competitive edge and they didn’t want to get left behind.

Moving to the cloud is rather like that today. I hear people getting bogged down in the semantics of Public Vs Private Vs Hybrid clouds while there is often a lack of discussion about the business strategy such as what they are hoping to achieve. So, if you’re not sure either, consider getting advice and guidance before jumping in.

KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

  • What functionality do you need?
  • Do you need scalability for growth or wholesale business changes
  • Do you have compliance requirements?
  • What is your budget?
  • What’s out there already:
    • Are there applications or suites you can subscribe to that already deliver this such as Salesforce, Xero, 365 or Autotask Workplace?
    • Do you need to build systems in AWS or Azure to run your applications?
    • Do you need both?

Choosing a service provider:

  • Are they business focused.  Too tech focused is a red flag but also beware of the complete absence of tech too as that may be a sign of marketing fluff over substance.
  • Security.  This is a tough one as most providers are light on for information.  If they show insufficient transparency, look for other options because ultimately, you’re still responsible for any breaches!
  • Data center locations.
    • Do you need local data center for performance?
    • Additonal Interstate data centers for redundancy?
    • Are you allowed to store data overseas?
  • Solid T&C’s and contracts. Just because it’s in the cloud doesn’t mean you’ve outsourced responsibility.
    • Many cloud services do not provide sufficient backup by default.
    • Make sure you own your data.
    • Can you change providers easily?  Often its difficult.
  • Does service & support meet your requirements?  Some smaller vendors still don’t offer phone support.
  • Clear definition of costs.  This can be very difficult as many offerings are based on usage while many businesses don’t yet understand what they need or even what they are currently using.  Even comparing costs between vendors can be difficult with complicated and nonlinear pricing models.  ROI calculations can be very difficult.

Don’t forget about the real world practicalities.

  • Is your Internet service good enough.  There’s no point putting anything in the cloud if it ends up unusably slow or unreliable
  • Desktop & User Management used to be performed by your servers.  You seriously need to consider building this into your cloud solution too
  • Data retention. You outsourced responsibility to maintain systems but if your data keeps growing, so do your monthly cloud costs.
  • Is your data backed up and kept for long enough?
  • Who’s managing all this for you?
  • Is it financially viable?  Cloud doesn’t mean cheaper.

If any of the above has created more questions than answers…welcome to the club.  I truly believe our expectations of technology have changed more than the actual technology in the past 10-15 years.