Ever resistant to change, humans have a habit of stalling their own progress. Think about it, we were reluctant to use Pascal’s first mechanical calculator in the 1640s, and reluctant to use the first modern computers in the 1970s.
Even in today’s world, old habits still die hard. However, the latest invention to take flight is the cloud (pun intended). While some business owners remain skeptical, others have embraced cloud computing, knowing that just like calculators and computers, the technology has improved the way their business operates and so is here to stay. In fact, a recent survey released by Brother International, a global supplier of office equipment, reveals that 21 percent of businesses plan to spend most of their IT budget on cloud-based file sync and share technologies, while another 28 percent say their technology expenditure will be geared toward mobile devices to support remote workers.
You might not want to explore cloud computing just yet, and that’s completely fine. But if you want to leverage the power of the cloud and are considering migrating to the platform, read on. Here, we’ll talk about some things you need to keep in mind to make sure your transition is a breeze and that you’ll be able to make the most out of the technology.
Understand the cloud
Cloud computing provides numerous benefits to businesses, including real-time collaboration, enhanced worker mobility, generous data storage capacities, and various applications simplified and streamlined to help maximize worker efficiency. Take some time to learn about various cloud features and applications to determine how they differ and which ones are best suited for your business model.
Understand your business
Because the cloud can be customized to meet your specific needs, it’s important to ask yourself what your business needs are. Do you have a large mobile workforce? Do you need to scale rapidly with minimal upfront capital? What cloud-based collaboration tools will benefit your business?
If your business requires that your employees travel frequently, cloud applications like Office 365 could be particularly useful for you (Office 365 is equally applicable to employees working in the office). If your employees handle customer information every day, you should consider a CRM software like Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
Choose the right option
There are three types of cloud platforms: public, private and hybrid clouds. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Public clouds are highly cost-effective but come with greater security risks, while private clouds are much more customizable but are often more costly. Hybrid clouds, on the other hand, are highly scalable and flexible because they allow you to choose elements from both public and private clouds; however, they’re also more expensive. Since most vendors don't offer all three options, we recommend you talk to different vendors to see which types of cloud platforms they offer.
Try before you buy
If you’re not sure about moving to the cloud at your company, go for a trial run to get a better understanding of how it can benefit your business. Many cloud computing tools today have a free 30-day trial period, enough to give you a good idea of how the technology works and whether it will be right for your business.
Get feedback from your employees
It’s always important to get feedback from your employees. In the case of cloud computing, address their questions and concerns before integrating the technology into your operations. Hold meetings with teams that you feel will be affected most by the cloud. Ask your teams what they think about the technology, and if you do adopt a free trial, ask them what they find useful and what they find troublesome. You should also explain to them why you plan to adopt this technology into your workplace.
Learn from other businesses
Because many small businesses are moving to the cloud, networking with them can give you a good idea of the challenges they face as well as the ways they overcome those challenges. Their needs may be different from yours, but chances are you will find common experiences, the lessons from which can help you avoid hiccups in your own transition.
Assess different vendors
A simple Google search will reveal that there are countless cloud vendors today aimed specifically toward small businesses. Even industry giants like IBM and Microsoft are now offering cloud solutions designed for small- and medium-sized businesses. With all this in mind, when you’re evaluating different cloud vendors available to you, don’t focus solely on pricing; take scalability, reliability and support into consideration, too. And because the cloud is scalable as your business grows, make sure that the vendor you choose provides the capacity to support this.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions no matter how silly you think they may sound. You’ll be paying your vendors, so ask them anything that comes to mind. Find out how they will support you in the event of a security breach, and know where they will store your data. If data will be stored in another country, ensure that your business requirements align with the country’s laws.
Start small and scale later
It’s a good idea to keep things simple and small when you’re using a new technology for the first time, and the cloud is no exception. Go for a simple cloud architecture without being too concerned about ticking all the boxes for the various applications and features. Focus on familiarizing yourself with the basic cloud structure; once you’ve determined which features and applications you’ll need, you can always scale up later. This will help you save costs, too.
Keep your future needs in mind
Although you can’t predict the future, you can ask yourself where you see your business years from now. Do you think you’ll need more resources in different locations? Do you see a possibility in your company for working remotely? By keeping your future needs in mind, you’ll be able to determine whether your needs can be met with cloud computing and be able to adjust your cloud roadmap with your vendor accordingly.
Just like any technology, cloud computing requires research, proper planning, feedback from people using it, and enough time spent exploring different options in order to ensure the most value for your business. At SimplyClouds, we have years of experience deploying, customizing and maintaining cloud infrastructures for small- and medium-sized businesses. Our real-world experience means we have the knowledge and skills necessary to tackle any problems quickly and ensure a seamless cloud migration for your company. If you have any questions about cloud computing or need some advice about making your transition to the cloud, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help.