In 2020, the pandemic forced businesses to ask the question: How flexible can we be? The common sticking point between businesses that thrived and those that struggled had one common theme: the cloud.

While cloud technology didn’t take the world by storm as many predicted years ago, it has seen consistent and increasing growth over time.  The pandemic ignited the need for flexible, on-demand solutions starting many businesses down the path of researching a move to the cloud.

Organizations that were already investing in the cloud continued to dive deeper, and those that had an on-premise setup started thinking about moving their systems to cloud technology. As a result, spending on public cloud technology came in at $257.5B, with Gartner expecting it to increase 18% this year, eclipsing the $300B mark.

Making an investment to move your business fully or partially to the cloud should be a decision based on the unique needs of your business.  Just because it’s the right decision for one company, doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for another.

Here are 10 things you should consider if you are thinking about making a move to the cloud.

What are your business objectives for migrating to the cloud?

There are many reasons businesses move to the cloud from cost savings and reduced risk of data loss, to increased employee collaboration and anytime, anywhere access.  Are you looking to move the management of your IT infrastructure outside your business to reduce your internal IT responsibilities?  Are you planning to expand your remote workforce and you need to increase investments in mobility, collaboration, and other remote working technologies?

What applications can be moved to the cloud?

It’s important to begin by taking an inventory of the number of applications run by your business.  You’ll find there is a number that can quickly be migrated to the cloud such as email and file sharing.

Likely, your employees are already using some cloud applications, sanctioned or unsanctioned, so how do you plan to manage these applications? A SaaS Management Platform can give you the ability to manage all of your SaaS products through a single pane of glass, automating application installs, user lifecycle management, and other processes.

How old are your hardware and on-prem applications?

If you’ve recently invested in new hardware or applications running internally, it may not be the best time to move your IT infrastructure to the cloud.  The best time to consider a move is when your hardware is more than 3 years old.

How much are you currently spending to keep your on-prem systems running?

Organizations calculate spending, investing, and costs of migrating to the cloud in very different ways. Some look deep into energy consumption and cost per square foot of their storage room, while others look more generally at monthly costs for services. No matter how you slice it, it’s been proven that the savings come to around 15% on all IT spending. So you may need to determine how granular you want to be about your spending and budgeting.

Where are your employees working from and do they need new or improved collaboration tools?

If you’re one of the many organizations that still have employees working remotely, you need to decide if you will allow your employees to continue to work remotely in some capacity long term. Employers who allow remote work see 25% lower employee turnover. However, beyond remote employees, other considerations need to be made. Are you simply in one office, or do you have multiple offices? With those offices, are you reliant on a VPN or a way to keep all the data flowing between multiple locations? These are things that would be easier with a move to the cloud.

A big advantage of moving to the cloud is the ability to collaborate seamlessly.  Your team should be able to access documents anytime and anywhere.  While Microsoft Teams leads the all-in-one solution pack, tools like Slack and Zoom allow you to try them out with no upfront costs.

Where will files be stored?

File storage is one of the biggest factors that cause people to consider moving to the cloud. Dropbox may be the name that everyone came to learn when cloud file storage hit the mainstream, but there are several other file storage solutions for those moving to the cloud. Although Box offers similar files-only capabilities, Google and Microsoft both offer all-in-one solutions. While Google Workspace offers Docs, Sheets, Slides, Hangouts, and Gmail, Microsoft provides online and local versions of more familiar apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, and Outlook.

How will data security change and do we have compliance requirements?

Cloud computing presents many unique security issues and challenges.  In the cloud, data is stored with a third-party provider and accessed over the Internet.  This means visibility and control over that data is limited.  Oftentimes, data security and risks are a shared responsibility between the vendor and the customer.  You must understand what role you’re taking on.

If your industry requires special regulations such as HIPAA or PCI compliance, you’ll need to make sure the cloud platform provider has that specific certification.

How will moving to the cloud change our Disaster Recovery Plan?

If your cloud computing system experiences downtime or is faced with a disaster, what is your backup strategy and how is your Cloud Service Provider going to get you out of the crisis? To ensure business continuity, it is vital for employees and clients to still have the ability to access company data.

Will the cloud be able to grow with our company?

When you need to increase server capacity, add users or manage an increase in demand, you should be able to instantly add more capacity in the cloud. If those requirements change, you can flex up or down. With the cloud, you should not have a long-term commitment to infrastructure costs.

How reliable are cloud solutions? Should I expect much downtime?

It is important to determine a cloud vendor’s margin of error, frequency of power outages, and security issues.  To combat downtime, it’s important to have applications with offline syncing.  This means if you suffer downtime your employees can keep working, knowing that the updated files will sync to the cloud automatically once the issue is resolved.

Making the move to the cloud

The pandemic has certainly increased interest in cloud services and the potential benefits they can provide.  For most companies, a comprehensive analysis should be performed to determine the best course of action based on your circumstances and priorities.

If you’re interested in possibly setting up a cloud platform service for your business, we are here to help.  Contact us for a free consultation today!

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