So you are thinking of moving to the cloud—great idea. You will be taking on the same advantages that a majority of companies worldwide are currently enjoying:scalability, efficiency, cost-savings, and security.
That said, successful migration isn’t as simple as it seems, especially if you’re moving entire data centers. Here are some critical factors you must consider:
What are my Objectives in the Cloud?
Find out exactly what you want to achieve by adopting cloud computing. This sounds fairly basic, but is often overlooked or paid little attention to.
It is not enough to rely on vague notions that the cloud will provide “needed scalability” or “significant cost-savings.” Think of the cloud as vehicle: it can’t get you where you need to go if you don’t have a direction in mind from the start.
Begin by asking what particular business issues you want to address and how you want cloud technology to address it. Are you trying to remove the need to maintain your own data centers? Are you trying to bring down operating costs, and by how much? Do you wish to meet sudden surges in user traffic to websites and servers? Do you prefer the public or private cloud, or a hybrid?
What does the SLA cover?
Every cloud service provider has a Service Level Agreement, and as tedious as it sounds, you must read it.
Does the uptime guarantee match up with the industry standard (99.999%)? How is your data stored, and how is it encrypted? How are audits handled? What agreements are you expected to uphold on your end?
Be ready to discuss with your provider the terms of the SLA that you do not understand or agree with.
Where is my Data stored?
Having your data is stored in international locations can help with local outages. But more importantly, it lets you know if you are complying with local laws on data storage. Australian Data Security laws, for example, carries restrictions on storing customer data overseas.
How scalable is it?
It’s a question of go big or go home: know how far you can scale your business with your prospective cloud service provider. The worst scenario is for you to move all your key processes to the cloud and grow your business, only to find you have maxed out your provider’s capacity.
Know your provider’s limitations and be prepared to either work with them or find another way.
How much will it all cost?
Understand what is covered by your monthly fees. Also, determine if there are any additional charges you will incur for services you don’t really need.
Costing models can help you in that regard, as will tools that can project monthly expenses.
What is the Disaster Recovery procedure?
As with reading the SLA, you will want to know what back-up processes and redundancies your cloud services provider has in place. For example, who do you contact in the event of failure? What are the failover and recovery procedures? How quickly can you recover your data?
How can I help improve security?
Most cloud service providers put a high premium on their own security. Regardless, security within the cloud remains a shared responsibility.
Even as cloud service providers maintain the security of their cloud infrastructure, it is up to the users to improve their security within the cloud. After all, a staggering 43% of data breaches in previous years were done by insiders—employees of the company.
So even as you go into the cloud, you will want to strengthen your own protocols, including audits and identity management. Clarify and plan this out with your personnel before you even begin migration.
The cloud can be an incredible tool for you to reach your objectives; you just need to know how to use it well. Don’t hesitate to talk to experts who can help ease your way.