A large company can’t rearrange its infrastructure on a whim. That’s one of the trade-offs a company makes when it grows from a small operation into a larger entity. After hiring more people, expanding its market and adding multiple locations, it becomes more complex and is better able to weather crises, but it loses the agility of a smaller business.
That’s why you have to carefully plan and vet every decision you make about your infrastructure. Your decision will affect hundreds of employees and the entire organization’s revenue stream. The cloud can provide great benefits for any business, but only if you ask a few questions before you begin.
1) How does the move to cloud computing affect the company?
When answering this, move beyond generalizations such as “The cloud will save money” or “Cloud computing makes disaster recovery easier.” In what specific ways will it reduce costs? What would be the expenses of recovering from disasters on your current infrastructure and how do they compare to recovering on a cloud platform? Look at the financial and opportunity costs.
Most articles, like this one, talk about cloud computing in general, but you need to be specific. What services are you going to move into the cloud and what benefits do those specifically give your company? Will the company be switching over to cloud database hosting, using cloud block storage, hosting its website with a cloud provider or a mixture of all three? Will you be building a custom system using cloud servers? Focus on what the cloud can do for your company, then gather experts in your organization and create a plan for cloud adoption.
2) Will it require a reallocation of resources?
You have a fixed budget to work with, and you can’t just tack on extra money to start using cloud computing while maintaining everything else you’re spending money on. Which areas will you have to trim? What can you consolidate or eliminate? Will you have staff positions that aren’t necessary anymore? Some things will shift, so figure out the best way to do that before you finalize plans to adapt your company to the cloud.
3) How do we do this seamlessly?
If life were a Dan Brown novel, you could just hit a button and your entire infrastructure would switch over to your cloud platform without any complications. It’s not, though, so you need to decide what you can move straight to the cloud, what you’ll have to tweak and what you have to replace entirely. After you know the “what,” plan out the migration and check other departments’ schedules. For instance, marketing may have a big conference coming up and will need to be able to access their documents outside normal business hours. Don’t move your SharePoint server to the cloud until they get back.
4) How will our security needs change?
The cloud is a different beast from other hosting options and is worlds away from anything you have in-house. You can’t approach security in the cloud the way you do right now. Look at your provider, the cloud products you’re going to use and the software you’ll be running and proactively identify new security measures. With the switch, you may need to implement different security measures.
5) Will the cloud still be beneficial to the company in five years?
Cloud computing’s most beneficial feature is its ability to scale as a company’s needs change, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for you to benefit from it. Are you using virtual servers that can scale as easily as your available cloud resources? Maybe you need to migrate to a different server platform to make sure cloud computing is still beneficial years down the road.
Everyone is talking about cloud computing, giving generic advice. Some are doing it just to join in a popular conversation, but others realize it’s difficult to give specific advice unless you’re speaking to a particular organization. The cloud can be tailored to match your needs, but it’s your job to figure out if it’s the best fit.