Three things to consider before you use cloud services

Before you migrate fully to the new cloud services platform, ensure you test before you go live.

The year 2016 has seen a rapid increase in the number of SMEs utilising cloud services. This trend is largely driven by convenience and cost.

This is because cloud services reduce the need to host, update, maintain or backup IT environments, eliminating the need to invest in on-premise servers, expensive hardware and support costs.

Cloud-based applications like accounting software, file sharing, ERPs, data storage, project management and CRMs, are becoming commonplace for SMEs. The next stage of widespread cloud adoption will see organisations have their entire IT environments in the cloud, including files, email and applications.

For SMEs looking at implementing cloud services to improve operations, these are the three things you need to consider.

  1. Data security

This is definitely an area you need to do your due diligence for when choosing a cloud service. You want to ensure your data will be safe from unauthorised access; that it will be backed up regularly and protected from viruses; and the data centres used are secure and well maintained.

While security was once a major concern for businesses looking to adopt cloud, security measures and technology have improved, and in many cases, having your data in the cloud is more secure than having it stored in an on-premise server.

  1. The type of cloud you choose

There’s more than one type of cloud. When looking to move your IT environment to the cloud, there are a number of cloud options, including public, private and hybrid.

Public clouds, like those offered by Amazon, Google and Microsoft, offer advanced technology. However, they can be expensive, complicated and impersonal. For personalised service you usually have to agree to a hefty upfront maintenance agreement.

Private cloud offerings have benefits from the sharing of IT resources across multiple applications and/or locations, which can help to increase productivity and reduce bottom line costs. However, one trap businesses can fall into is opting for a hosting service rather than a true cloud provider.

As the name implies, hybrid clouds use a combination of on-premise, private and public cloud services. They can expand capacity quickly but can be complicated to set up and run, resulting in a greater potential for things to go wrong, more downtime and more costs. On-premise equipment can be expensive, and likewise, the ongoing maintenance.

  1. Migration

When engaging a cloud provider it’s critical to understand their migration methodology. You want to ensure the process is as seamless as possible with no disruption or downtime. Speaking with previous clients can be a good way to ensure the provider’s methodology is tried and tested.

The migration process can represent significant risk if not handled correctly. Before you migrate fully to the new cloud platform, ensure you test before you go live. It’s also important to have safety mechanisms in place so if things go wrong you can correct issues or even revert to the old system if need be.

Cloud adoption will continue to grow as SMEs see the ultimate business benefits. However, before you move to the cloud, do your due diligence. For instance, consider all the costs, including set-up and migration fees. Also, make sure the option you choose offers adequate security measures. If you’ve done your homework, moving to cloud can be one of the best things your organisation has ever done.

Andrew Tucker, CEO, ITonCloud

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