Getting the most out of your company's transition to the cloud takes research and planning—but it’s well worth it.
There's been a recent groundswell of Canadian small- and medium-sized business owners shifting from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud. Why? The advantages of the cloud are manifold, including zero maintenance, 24/7 uptime, easy scalability, and data security. All of this amounts to saved capital as well as your staff being able to focus more on your core business operations rather than the technology that facilitates them.
But when you’re a small- to mid-size business, choosing the right cloud provider is crucial to actually reaping those benefits. Here’s what you should look for:
- Data security options
Chances are, if you’re considering switching from legacy IT infrastructure that resides on your premises to virtualized infrastructure in the cloud, you’re not just doing it for maintenance and capital-saving purposes—you’re also concerned about data protection and whether you currently have sufficient security measures in place. While the cloud itself inherently offers excellent security, it won’t protect you from ransomware attacks, which rely on employees clicking on innocent-looking links, and Shadow IT, which is when employees download unapproved applications in an effort to do their jobs more efficiently. To mitigate these risks, find out if your potential cloud providers offer backup and disaster recovery options, which you can read more about here.
- Proper management and patching
“Management” comes down to ensuring your cloud infrastructure and applications stay up and running. Not all data centres are created equal, so be sure to check out a potential cloud provider’s credentials. Data centres have certifications, and when it comes to uptime, the Uptime Institute has set the global standard. They provide tiered certification—the higher the tier, the more likely you will never experience downtime. “Patching” refers to the managed monitoring of your cloud services to ensure your infrastructure and mission-critical applications are functioning properly, adding another layer of reliability. In addition to certifications, be sure to ask about this kind of managed service.
- Access to technical resources
Finally, there are a lot of factors to consider when migrating your infrastructure into the cloud. For one, what exactly does your cloud solution look like? Will you use a private cloud? A virtual private cloud? (Read more about these here.) Will you also incorporate colocation into the mix? These aren’t questions small- to-mid size businesses can be expected to answer most of the time, so you want a cloud provider that can solve these puzzles for you and help you with the actual migration, ensuring it’s as smooth and downtime-free as possible.
Public cloud services offered by large providers (a.k.a. “hyperscalers”) are popular, but companies choosing this option may run the risk of encountering unforeseen compliance issues and red tape. This can be especially problematic for businesses that work with data attached to government and healthcare organizations.
Keep in mind, as well, that to properly take advantage of the cloud, your internet has to be fast, dependable, and capable of handling an adequate number of simultaneous users performing typical tasks associated with your business. And—like the cloud services it connects you to—your internet should be capable of quickly and easily scaling up as your needs evolve.
Whether you choose or are unexpectedly pushed to make the move to cloud computing, the process should begin with an identification and prioritization of requirements specific to your company, including performance, reliability, security, and budget. As with any change, a bit of initial effort is necessary, but you might be surprised just how quick and painless transitioning to the cloud can be.