What does your business really need from the Cloud?

No matter your industry, there’s almost certainly a significant chunk of your business that could benefit from migrating to Cloud services, if you haven’t done so already. 

Whether private or public, Cloud can offer a number of benefits compared to keeping everything on physical servers on-site. For example, rather than supporting your own hardware with large CapEx costs, Cloud services are offered on a subscription basis, and you don’t need to worry about supporting any hardware as this is done for you.

Taking hardware worries out of the equation means Cloud also brings the advantage of flexible scalability, exactly when you need it. So, if you need extra processing power for a week or two due to increased demand, you can do so, returning to your standard levels when demand returns to normal, all priced accordingly.

And of course, letting someone else take care of hardware worries and servicing allows your IT staff to focus on more valuable projects to the business, such as automating staff workflows to allow them to also move onto more pressing issues and become more productive in their day-to-day.

So, there’s no doubting that there are considerable business gains to be made from migrating across, but does it make sense for every part of your business to be in the Cloud?

In short, probably not.

 

What you might not want in the Cloud

There are certain functions of your business that require a deeper level of security that you might want to consider keeping on-premise (on-prem) rather than sending to a data centre outside the organisation. 

For example, personnel data, financial data and customer data often makes sense to keep within your four walls, simply because of its sensitive nature. And with GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation) coming into force on May 25th, 2018, companies must comply with new data protection rules or face fines of up to €20m or 4% of your annual turnover, whichever is greater (read more on GDPR from the ICO here.) With that in mind, it’s probably in your best interests to keep this data on-prem.

Also, keep in mind what your organisation cannot live without if you cannot access what’s in your Cloud. We’ll talk a bit more about disaster recovery and business continuity later in this blog.  

 

Don’t underestimate the impact on staff and customers

Switching to Cloud services represents a major change for the way in which your staff work, and will require good planning, preparation and training; an exercise which should not be underestimated.

A frustrating work environment can not only impact your staff morale, it can also affect their ability to serve your customer base properly. To overcome this, find your internal champions for the new way of doing things to help allay concerns and promote the positives.

Switching to Cloud services represents a major change for the way in which your staff work, and will require good planning, preparation and training; an exercise which should not be underestimated.

The underlying cost

One of Cloud’s biggest selling points is the little to no start-up “cost” followed by payments at regular intervals, with all service and upgrades included.

However, the real cost of migrating can be much higher than initially anticipated. Migrating from your on-premise servers to the Cloud is rarely a “lift-and-lay” scenario and will require detailed planning, dedicated support and effort to get you there. (If you are looking for dedicated support to help with your Cloud migrations, let’s talk.)

Considering how much Cloud storage will cost you in the future is another factor you should keep an eye on. Chances are, with technologies such as Big Data and advanced analytics involving Machine Learning becoming ever more useful and popular for businesses of all vectors, your storage requirements are going to grow substantially. Looking to the future and making educated, worst-case scenario guesses on what your needs will be in the future will help you build a more accurate picture of what’s to come in terms of Cloud storage costs.

There’s also no getting around the fact that setting up in the Cloud is a highly complicated process. There are many parts, and many different configurations that can be set up, so having the knowledge of which is best isn’t always easy. Getting it wrong, of course, is an expensive thing to do, so it’s important to move forward with experienced support to make sure there aren’t any costly errors along the way.

For some large enterprises, the recurring costs of the Cloud may heavily outweigh the cost of an in-house solution. Make sure to explore all options and solutions before committing to something that doesn’t work best for your organisation and your IT team.

 

Downtime – both in the Cloud and Onsite

Data centres often come with impeccable SLAs for uptime of more than 99.9% across the year, but 0.1% of downtime is still 8 hours 45 minutes long if it happens all at once.

But, it’s not only your Cloud provider’s resilience to downtime you need to consider- it’s also yours. There are a number of reasons your business might end up being taken offline, and your strategic Cloud planning needs to take this into consideration when looking at what to store in the data centre.

One of the biggest threats your business faces today is the ever-growing Ransomware. 2017 was a bumper year for the malware that requests payment to unlock your files, with recent estimations suggesting the malware cost businesses upwards of $5 billion in 2017, a 15x increase in just two years (from Cybersecurity Ventures.)

Business Continuity is the name of the game here; ensuring you have a series of processes and procedures in place so that when your systems go down, you can get back up and running as soon as possible with minimal customer impact. This all starts with effective business continuity planning including backup internet connectivity and a robust disaster recovery solution. To read more, click here.

 

Beware of Lock-In

Just as you’re considering the effort it would take to migrate to the Cloud, consider the level of effort that would be required by your team to migrate yourselves back out again.

Migrating back out of the Cloud can often be much more difficult than migrating in as your business becomes increasingly integrated with your provider. It may require weeks if not months of work, as well as specialist assistance to get your complex systems back out should you wish to switch providers or host locally again.

 

Keep an eye on your provider

Putting too many eggs in one basket has never been a good strategy for businesses, and Cloud is no different.

Bear in mind that if your provider wishes to raise prices (within the terms and conditions), it becomes difficult for you to turn around as a business and say “no”, because you might have nowhere else to go in an agile fashion- even if that price change is 12 months down the line.

By operating in the cloud you’re operating on the edge, and we’re still seeing businesses big and small make mistakes. 

One of the biggest players in the Cloud experienced a massive outage thanks to some critical security misconfigurations. It goes to show that even the biggest corporations in the world still make mistakes, and no one is perfect.

 

But Cloud might just be your saviour

Just as we’re talking about all the things that can go wrong with Cloud, it can also be your saviour in your time of need.

Take Datto, for example; a business continuity solution that performs frequent backups to make sure you don’t lose too much data in the event of a disaster. In addition, in the event of site failure, Datto can almost instantly restore your work environment, both in the Cloud or via an on-site device. This technology ensures little to no loss of operational capacity for your business. Datto is a game changer in the world of ransomware and technology-dependent business. To learn more about what else Datto can do, click here to read more, or get in touch.

 

The Best of Both Worlds

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing with the Cloud; you can have your cake and eat it too.

A hybrid solution of both Cloud and in-house will probably be the answer if you find yourself torn between one or the other. You may, for example, chose to go in-house for the majority of your processing power needs, only utilising the Cloud for additional capacity when required.

 

The Cloud has revolutionised how many businesses operate in 2018, and it would be short-sighted to ignore its potential completely- but keep in mind that there are pros and cons on both sides. Ask your IT team to investigate all options before moving forward and making a decision on where to go next.

If you’re looking at Cloud options and would like a highly experienced Managed Service Provider to work alongside and support, we can help. Get in touch here to discuss your options.

Posted by Jordan Maciver on Thursday, January 11, 2018

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