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Like any other IT project, cloud migration comes with its own set of challenges. The key to using cloud services that give your business exactly what you need out of your new technology investment is to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before you start. Technology investments should never be made impulsively. Taking the time to figure out the specifics well ahead of time can eliminate added complications and costs that could otherwise crop up down the road, and make the entire process much smoother.
Your business should have a very clear idea of why you’re making the move to the cloud, how that move will impact your day-to-day operations, and what function the cloud will serve. It’s also important to make sure that your staff understands the definition of cloud services. The cloud doesn’t cover every single service delivered over the Internet but instead provides specific services that are hosted in a cloud-based environment.
Next, you’re going to want to be sure you fully understand the impact the cloud will have on the way you budget for and manage your technology environment going forward. The added flexibility the cloud brings to your operations will impact the way new applications are purchased and implemented and can make keeping tabs on the way your employees make use of these resources difficult. Some employees will take it upon themselves to add new services that make their days easier without realizing that they’re likely incurring additional costs your team hasn’t budgeted for or compromising your network security by adding an unknown or unregulated application into the mix.
Another potential headache you’ll need to prepare for is how quickly cloud technology changes. You may have a current routine in place that has you re-upping with vendors every few years to upgrade to the latest versions of important software, but cloud-based solutions evolve much more quickly. You’ll need to adjust to working with multiple vendors simultaneously for specific services and be prepared to embrace a new level of agility in order to keep up.
Once you have the hows and whys of your internal operations nailed down, you’ll need to start looking at cloud providers. This is where it becomes important to ask the right questions and keep your goals in mind. More and more businesses — including big names like Dropbox — are moving away from the public cloud in favor of the faster performance and lower cost private cloud offers. High profile cloud outages are also driving businesses away from the public cloud, as is the desire for better control over the security of their valuable data.
That being said, the public cloud is still a great option, and a great first step into cloud services. Regardless of whether you plan to stick with public cloud for the long haul, plan to use it as a stepping stone, or don’t quite know where you’ll be headed in the future, it’s important to have an exit strategy in place. Moving to a different provider requires budgeting both time and money to make a migration to a new platform happen, as well as getting your staff up to speed and retraining them on new policies and procedures.
Part of getting an exit strategy in place for your business is avoiding getting yourself locked into a specific provider. Many cloud providers offer enticing add-ons or features that are proprietary to that specific provider. Getting accustomed to or relying heavily on anything that is proprietary to a particular provider will make it that much more difficult to move to a new platform or add a second provider to your infrastructure at some point down the road. You’ll need to strike a careful balance that both lets you make the most of the perks your provider has to offer while still maintaining the flexibility to make changes or move on when the time is right.
Finally, you’ll want to consider how your employees will react to a drastic change in the way they work, and provide them with the resources they need to adapt. You might have big plans for what the cloud will bring to your business, but if those plans mean your staff will need to relearn basic tasks, be taught how to use brand new programs or tools, and alter the way they complete tasks, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got support in place to get your team on board with those plans. While business owners and managers ultimately make these types of decisions, it doesn’t hurt to sit down with your team to get their perspective on things before you set major changes into motion.
This goes back to the need to have a clear picture of where you’re heading with cloud technology beforehand. Getting the most benefit possible out of any technology investment means making sure you’re setting yourself up for the best possible return on that investment, and your staff’s productivity will impact that return. When it’s done right, the move to the cloud can be revolutionary. It’s just a matter of being fully prepared every step of the way.
Published on 28th August 2017 by Jeanne DeWitt.