As a business person, you’ve probably heard about Cloud Computing by now. You’ve crunched the numbers and seen the financial and operational benefits. Now you’re ready to tell your I.T. team to either move your existing in-house applications to The Cloud, or you have a “Cloud first” mandate when it comes to new applications (Email, Accounting, CRM, et cetera) and technologies (Hosted PBX, Managed WiFi). You might also be looking to reduce the size of your I.T. team as a result of moving to The Cloud.
Here are Three Cloud Computing Tips for You to Consider Before Pulling the Trigger:
1. Involve your I.T. team in the decision making process. Besides the obvious fact that they earn a salary from you, they may genuinely care about your company and its success. Do external parties feel the same way about you? Involve your I.T. people in the process, but don’t let emotions get in the way. I.T. Departments should accept the fact that Cloud Computing is here to stay. By and large, the move makes economic sense. One way for I.T. to stay relevant is to get out of the server room and embed themselves in the business. Instead of managing hardware and software, the focus should be on what/where I.T. technologies should be considered in terms of positive impacts on your business and your customers.
2. Factor in the cost of having redundant communication links. Cloud-based apps require connectivity. So if your link goes down, your business and customers suffer. Are you prepared for that? Always budget for a secondary link. Already have a secondary link with your existing provider? What happens if they go down? Always use another provider/network for secondary links. With SD-WAN technologies, secondary links are now more affordable and practical! For example, your primary Internet connection might be an expensive Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) circuit from Provider A, but your secondary circuit can run over an affordable Broadband connection from Provider B, with SD-WAN managing both!
3. Mutually beneficial Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Support Agreements between your business and your Cloud and Connectivity provider(s) are a must. With your internal I.T. team, first-line support was close at hand and within your control. There was, presumably, a high level of trust and personal relationships. If you couldn’t get your tech on the phone, you could always walk over to them, or they would come to you! And if the issue was out of their control, I.T. would act as the buffer/b.s. filter between your business and external vendors, and would work with them to find a solution. In a Cloud Computing or Managed Services environment, what happens when you have a problem with an application that is hosted in the Cloud? What’s the escalation process? Do you call, or email support? How quickly will they assign a resource to investigate and solve the issue? How many clients does your Cloud provider support: 10, 100, 1,000, 10,000, 100,000 and where are you in the queue? Are they located in the same country as your business, can you call them after hours or on weekends?
In summary, Cloud Computing has its benefits, but it is not a silver bullet! While the above is not an exhaustive list, these tips are likely to reduce the risk of any negative fall-out when moving to The Cloud. Remember: 1) Involve your I.T. team in the process, 2) Setup redundant connectivity links and 3) Implement SLA’s and support agreements between your business and your service providers.
Amit Uttamchandani is an experienced Information Technology and Business professional. The views expressed here are his own.