It's 2018, and your head should at least be in the cloud, even if your company's IT infrastructure hasn’t quite made it there yet.
More frequently, companies are finding themselves purchasing expensive software that will improve their operations and increase productivity. Moving your business to a cloud-based solution such as Office 365 or Microsoft Azure means that you can transform your business by reducing costs, lessen cyber security vulnerability, whilst increasing data security and becoming more flexible and accessible with regards to both employees and customers.
Yes, it’s fair to say that moving your business to the cloud makes business sense, but before you do so, you have some important elements to address. So being the helpful business that we are, we’ve listed the elements to consider below – you can thank us later.
Our vast experience in the industry means that we have taken great care and consideration to our methodology when it comes to moving our clients’ infrastructure to one that is cloud based.
It’s not a case of taking what you have and simply just changing its location and the way it is accessed. We take a bespoke approach to each client, assess the unique business needs and usage, before optimising and re-architecting the data and providing a prescribed, personalised solution.
It’s not only critical that your software license allows you to host the application in the cloud, but also the software itself must be compatible to be hosted on a remote server.
Also, if you create a hybrid cloud infrastructure and are maintaining some legacy systems, then you need to ensure that your cloud applications can interface with the rest of your estate.
This purely relates to the current set-up of your email system; if you are using a dedicated email server, then moving your email into the cloud means you can leave the maintenance to the experts.
If your emails are hosted by a dedicated provider, its likely that you have already implemented hosted email, although you may want to consider moving this to the same provider for efficiency.
At Chalkline, we would always recommend Office 365, which more and more software providers are adding support for every day.
Internet Connection and Bandwidth
In short, you are looking to move to the cloud to heighten your business performance and activity, so you need your connection and networks to be able to withstand the increased usage.
Bandwidth, coupled with accompanying enterprise grade routers, is paramount to transmitting the maximum amount of data your connection can both send and receive.
In order to secure the best possible connection, we would always recommend a leased line, which provides an uncontended (dedicated) pipe to the internet. There are also other options such as FTTP (fibre to the premises) which provide similar services at a lower cost.
Uncontended lines mean that you aren’t competing for bandwidth with other paying customers. This means you don’t suffer from packet loss or latency, which would degrade the quality of your connection and therefore any cloud solutions.
Your Hardware Lifecycle
How old is your hardware? If you have just invested in new hardware, then financially it may not make sense to move to IT infrastructure to the cloud.
The perfect time to make the move is when your hardware is three or more years old, then the money that would be spent replacing the equipment should instead be invested on migrating to the cloud.
Service Level Agreements
It’s not uncommon for issues to arise from time to time when it comes to cloud solutions and software applications. From user confusion, to minor glitches and even major outages, you will be in contact with your solutions provider for help and advice, so it’s vital that you are happy with the service level agreement (SLA) that they offer.
This helps to manage expectations when it comes to responsiveness, reliability, procedures and monitoring, and ensures that there is no disenchantment further down the line.
The importance of applications with offline syncing is relevant here; if you do experience an issue with your internet connection or a network problem, you can be safe in the knowledge that you can work locally until the issue is solved and the files sync automatically.
One example of this is OneDrive; this application allows you to work on projects in the event that you are working offline and syncs later on.
It’s highly likely that you have had a disaster recovery plan in place for your physical or in-house IT infrastructure. But when it comes to cloud solutions, disaster recovery is an out-dated approach; you need to be thinking about disaster prevention.
A cloud solution means that you will have no requirement for co-locations, proving to be cost efficient and providing peace of mind.
Many cloud solutions such as Microsoft Azure offer an additional back-up service, such as Azure Site Recovery, a separate service that keeps your data safe and recoverable, should a disaster occur.
Location of Data
Another element that is business critical; as you are essentially the guardian of this valuable and potentially confidential or data, you will want to know where it will be located and how safe it is.
Not only it is good practice for you to be aware of where the data is located, but also which data laws it is essentially governed by, which regulations it is complying with and if it is subject to government surveillance.
Cloud solutions offer the ultimate flexibility when it comes to scaling up and down as your business requires, and while this means you aren’t required to be overly forward-thinking and plan for solutions that won’t restrict usage growth, because the solutions easily allow for this, you may want to think about seasonal sales trends or marketing activity that means your traffic will vastly increase.
We are talking about cloud bursting; a great example of this would be when retail brands prepare for their sites to be flooded and have deployed a solution that copes with the extra demand for capacity.
We realise that we have just unleashed a lot of (valuable and insightful) information on you. But with good reason, moving your legacy system to the cloud is a decision that could take your business to new heights and give you the competitive edge; it needs to be done in the right way.
So, with this in mind, all you need to ask yourself is ‘where do I start?’ and if you want some guidance with this, just give us a call.