Moving to the cloud feels like a big change for some companies. Understanding the ins and outs of cloud computing and where your company can take advantage of the numerous benefits is often a difficult task. We asked you for your top questions on cloud computing and have provided the answers below!
1. What is cloud computing
Cloud computing is described as the process of using a network of remote servers, hosted via the internet, to store, manage and process data, rather than hosting it locally. Essentially, cloud computing is using someone else's infrastructure and hardware, reducing the amount of capital investments your business needs to make.
2. How do I know if cloud is right for my business?
Companies that choose to shift to the cloud do so for a number of reasons. The benefits of flexibility, scalability, cost savings, etc. are weighed against availability concerns. It is important to evaluate if cloud is right for you from a strategic and operational perspective. Does your demand for IT vary throughout the year? Are the costs of your IT impacting your ability to grow as a business? If so you may consider a cloud option that can be easily scaled.
You should also evaluate your current IT set-up to understand the benefits of moving to the cloud, especially in the following areas:
- Service – how important are security, reliability and flexibility to your business? Is your current solution meeting your needs? Is there room for improvement?
- Technology landscape – how many business users are there? What is the geographic distribution of your user base? Do your employees require remote access?
- Cost – Are you satisfied with the costs of your on premises solution? Are the costs to scale up or upgrade services acceptable?
- Ease of migration – when did you last invest in significant capital expenditure? Do you have any contractual and vendor commitments that constrain migration?
Answering these questions can help to understand if cloud is a good fit for your business.
3. How do I develop a cloud strategy?
Developing a cloud strategy begins with outlining your technical and business objectives. Understand what the drivers are for your company to shift to the cloud and what solutions these drivers require. Your cloud strategy may be to start small and gradually, or your business may be in a position to dive right in. Once you identify your needs, you can better understand if your cloud strategy should include public, private or hybrid cloud solutions. lay out a road-map and timeline to execute your shift to the cloud.
4. What do I need to do to prepare for the cloud?
Many companies do not take the time to consider what they may need to put into place prior to shifting to the cloud. For the most part, preparing to shift to the cloud is simple and just requires you having a Cloud Service Provider handle the transition. However, one of the biggest things to consider is your network bandwidth. With the strain put on local internet connections from cloud computing, you may consider upgrading your bandwidth or investing in SD-WAN technology to increase connectivity.
5.What workloads can I move to the cloud?
There are many options for moving workloads to the cloud and most will depend on your business and cloud strategy. You may choose to slowly move your complete IT environment to the cloud or just one task. Most businesses use the cloud for data backup, both short term and long term. Application-based workloads can also be moved to the cloud (i.e. CRM, Marketing Automation, Etc.). Test and Dev operations can also be outsourced. In fact,the ability to spin up environments in a matter of minutes, scale them up or down on demand, and access data from anywhere is a huge appeal. Other outsourcing can be discussed with your cloud service provider.
6. What is the easiest workload to move to the cloud?
By and large the easiest and most common workload to shift to the cloud is backup. Backup as a Service (BaaS) is easy to use and helps to mitigate a major business continuity concerns around downtime and data loss. Cloud-based backup can be used for multiple environments or just one environment - depending on what restrictions your company decides to place on cloud usage.
7. Will my company need to hire more IT staff to handle the transition?
Since one of the major appeals of working with a cloud service provider is that they handle the ins and outs of your cloud transition, you shouldn't have to hire additional staff when shifting to the cloud. However, having some IT expertise in house is helpful to make the transition smooth. If you do not have an existing IT team, consider hiring an IT professional to help take advantage of the services that cloud providers offer and provide advise.
8. What type of security parameters does the cloud have in place?
These days, with cyber attacks on the rise, security is a major concern. Cloud providers put numerous security parameters in place so that, in the event of an attack, your data is secure and can be restored. These tactics include encryption, identity management, and physical security. Providers should also have business continuity plans in place that utilize redundant hardware, backup generators, and other measures to prevent downtime. Data center locations will also have security in place like badge access restrictions, security cameras, fences and more.
9. Is the cloud safe for personal information?
With numerous high profile hacks of personal information in recent years (most notably Target and Anthem) cloud providers have worked to step up the security game for personal information. If a cloud provider has certifications in place for HIPAA, PCI-DSS and SOC, they have been evaluated by a third party and deemed qualified to handle personal/ private information.
10. How do I make sure I can access my data?
Cloud providers will outline your access, security, services and support when you partner with them. To ensure the accessibility of data, cloud providers develop a service level agreement (SLA). The SLA will detail what happens in the event of an outage and protects the customer in certain situations.
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