How To Prepare A Business For Implementing Cloud SolutionsFebruary 26, 2020
After looking things over and weighing the pros and cons, you’ve decided to move your company’s data operations into the cloud. This is a fundamental change to your infrastructure that requires thoughtful preparation.
Plan Ahead in Detail
Capable leaders always plan ahead. Craft a careful strategy that takes every aspect of your current business into account.
Compare your company as it is now against the company you want to become.
Identify which key areas will benefit from a jump to the cloud. More importantly, which areas will not?
It’s critical to create a realistic, step-by-step process that takes concrete action to minimize disruption. Your planning should include these key concerns.
What is the single most important concern driving the move to the cloud? Is this about data storage and security or more about flexibility and connectivity?
If you’re not going to change how your company operates except for where the data is stored, moving to the cloud is a straightforward process.
Maybe you’re looking for game-changing transformation. You want basic changes in how your personnel, customers, and leaders interact.
You have serious analysis to do in that case.
- What current operations will move online? Why?
- Can your current applications run on cloud servers? Are they already web-based?
- Do you need teams to collaborate online in real-time, check off steps in processes, or connect and communicate at will?
- Design your new system from the ground up with the customer and your internal end-users in mind.
- Decide if current processes will change their order of steps taken, merge with other processes, or disappear entirely.
- How can you take advantage of automation and information flow so that stakeholders stay continually informed and updated?
It’s imperative to make sure that it’s worth the investment to move operations onto the cloud. A thorough cost analysis needs to cover:
- The actual overhead cost of migrating to include labor, downtime, and employee training.
- The capital outlay to establish the contract for cloud servers and associated services.
- The continuing cost of the cloud service versus your current data center, IT personnel, network, and hardware.
- You’ll be using your network more than before. Consider possible hardware and bandwidth costs for a better onsite network, mobile devices, and printing.
The Chief Technology Officer at Hitachi, Hubert Yoshida, advises against purchasing surplus data storage.
“Data centers decline in price by about 24 percent per year, and thus buying with a pay-as-you-go model will drive cost-effectiveness and efficiency.”
The entire enterprise must have a complete grasp of the way day-to-day work will change. Employees need to be informed of the timeline, updated on progress, and trained in new processes.
Beyond the practical explanation of new steps, the system needs to be adopted by internal end-users in planned stages. Leadership will need training and support to understand new methods for managing projects.
It’s important to establish a system for user feedback to adjust and fine-tune business processes. Setting up a process for user input will greatly increase employee buy-in for the overall cloud jump project.
Security and Downtime
The single most important thing anyone can do to prepare for downtime or data loss is to back up all data regularly. Your company should be making daily backups and storing them securely at a separate location from the business in case of theft or fire.
At some point, all the setup is done, and it’s time to transfer your data upstream to the cloud system.
It’s best to make a local copy of everything you’re moving and use that copy for the transfer. Keep working on your normal set of data until the transfer is complete. Then once everything is operational and has been fully tested, you can transfer any incremental changes.
Preventing downtime and data recovery are some of the main advantages offered by cloud service providers.
The nature of cloud computing means there are several copies of your data in different locations at the same time. This redundancy provides the resilience to keep your data operational if it’s hacked or lost in a catastrophe like a power failure.
As part of choosing your cloud service provider, it’s essential that you check its security guarantees and its disaster recovery processes thoroughly. Because the service provider maintains multiple data centers, it’s easily able to get you up and running again with minimal disruption. You need to know how long it will take to bring another data center online to pick up where the other one left off. These are crucial aspects of cloud computing.
Cloud providers can provide you with physical backups like hard drives or tapes in the event you’re unable to connect for several days due to a natural disaster at your location.
These copies will let you go to a local data center for temporary operations until you can connect again.
In the meantime, your cloud provider can maintain continuity online with the public, vendor, and client sides of your business.
One unfortunate fact of life is that the cloud service provider itself could go down, either through bankruptcy, malicious hacking activity, or law enforcement seizure of the company’s assets.
You need to have a plan already in place to move to another cloud system and minimize the downtime such a move could create. It’s best to check with competing services and have a backup plan in place to cover worst-case scenarios.
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
Although it is a complex process with a multitude of considerations, moving to the cloud is still a business process.
Like any other business process, it can be planned in detail, and the risks minimized or eliminated.
It’s important to understand that your data is your business.
Without customer records, financial data, project management and the like, you’ll be dead in the water.
Give this challenge the serious thought it deserves and don’t move before you’re ready. It’s not something to fear. It’s merely something that needs to be studied, planned out, and executed step by step.
In the end, like other challenging times in your company’s development, it will soon be just another part of doing business, and you’ll be busy grappling with entirely new challenges.
About the Author
Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favorite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters