Implementation Best Practices

Before You Take Your Company To the Cloud, Consider These Key Factors

Why are more business leaders exploring cloud computing? Since IT budgets are often the largest corporate line item behind payroll and personnel expenses, businesses often look to this option to improve business performance and reduce capital expenditures. The most important thing that should be considered when it comes to cloud computing is, “Which business problems are we looking to solve?” Cloud computing is often advertised to cut costs, reduce IT staff requirements and improve performance, so it may seem like a good idea. However, business leaders should explore any cloud computing migration thoughtfully to ensure that it fits in to the overarching business strategy and provides the company with the security it requires.

Where Does The Cloud Fit Into Business Strategy?

Moving to the cloud can be a cost-effective direction that makes it possible to adopt solutions quickly and efficiently. Cloud applications are scalable, which means they can be adapted quickly to meet changing needs. However, not all cloud solutions are ideal for every organization; there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Business and technology leaders should work together to evaluate cloud migrations on a case-by-case basis and determine whether or not specific solutions fit in to the overarching business strategy.

Some new cloud-based applications have a lot of bells and whistles, but they are not always plug-and-play solutions. Those applications must be able to interface with legacy solutions, or the new technology will be virtually useless.

Contrary to popular belief, the cloud isn’t magic. For many businesses, “going to the cloud” simply means strategic outsourcing of applications or infrastructure services.

Therefore, business and technology leaders must work closely together to build a technology roadmap that not only addresses business strategy and cost, but also allows for smooth operational transitions and ensures effective change management.

The Security Concerns Of Cloud Computing

CFO.com reports that finance executives cite security risks as their biggest concern when it comes to cloud solutions. These fears are not without merit. Companies put a great deal of trust into cloud providers, placing their secure data in strangers’ care. Those fears can be further exacerbated in heavily-regulated industries like banking or healthcare, which require strict data security compliance.

Business leaders must identify their unique security requirements and ask the right questions of potential cloud providers. Those questions might be (but are not limited to):

  • How is the data environment handled?
  • What is your data retention policy?
  • How frequently do you test your security protocols?
  • What are your procedures in the event of an outage or disaster at one of your data centers?

Who Can Provide The Best Security?

Business leaders often think that their on site IT staff can provide better security than a cloud provider. This may not be true. Most companies cannot afford to staff a security expert for every form of technology in their portfolio (firewalls, networks, servers, applications, mobile devices, etc). Most cloud services providers have a team of experts focused exclusively on the solutions that they deliver – no distractions. Their goal is to make the service offering as secure as possible. It’s hard to argue that an on staff resource could provide the same level of attention when they are required to deal with more than a single service offering.

When it comes to security, great advances have been made in recent years. However, business leaders must properly vet potential cloud providers to determine whether or not the security needs of the company can and will be met. This step is critical, as many providers do not allow prospective clients to come in and “kick the tires.” In many cases, companies must rely on the assurances of vendors that their data will remain secure. Only thorough due diligence will allow the executive team to rest easy, knowing their data is in good hands.

A Cloud Evolution, Not Necessarily A Revolution

For most businesses, the migration to cloud-based solutions will be an evolutionary journey rather than a big-bang transformation. In order for that journey to be successful, the journey must be well planned. Services for cloud migration should be identified and queued up for transformation in the proper order. They must also be well-managed along the way. If they are, the trip to the cloud can be a fast track to cost savings and effectiveness.