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Moving to the Cloud – 7 Things to Consider

Moving to the Cloud is a big step for any business. It requires a great deal of preparation and thought before executing. Finding a provider can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to create problems. A good provider should offer solutions that take logistical pressure off of your enterprise, allowing you to work toward your business goals while knowing your data is secure, cared for, and appropriate for your needs.


Public or Private Cloud?

We’ll start with the big choice. There are plenty of reasons why businesses choose to run their applications through either a large public provider or a private host, but it often comes down to cost. The long-held wisdom that public clouds are more affordable is being challenged, with recent data showing that private clouds actually saved $2,700 per user on a private cloud. That’s millions in savings over years, and the market is responding in kind. We’ll come back to pricing, but it’s a big factor in this first decision.

Other criteria include the quality of support and the degree of control offered by either option. Private clouds afford better a ccess and more options for customization, providing the peace of mind of knowing your data is within reach should anything go wrong. They also tend to offer better support as private cloud providers typically have resources devoted solely to your enterprise.

Be careful not to be “penny wise and pound foolish.”


Evaluating Security

Recent outages in the public cloud have demonstrated the need for quality security for your data. It’s often tempting to go with a cheaper provider with fewer guaranteed security features, but in the long run you’ll end up paying more to resource those features yourself. Look for a provider that offers encryption, access control, and monitoring capabilities – a full security management package. You’ll need encryption keys, malware and virus protection, spam filters, enterprise scanning, quarantines, and monitoring for unusual activity.

Make sure that your provider keeps with best practices in security and can demonstrate their encryption and other security measures.


Migration Strategies

There are two main strategies for migrating your data and applications to the cloud: lift-and-shift and re-architecting. The former allows you to migrate in a staggered fashion, moving select server groups or applications at once. This makes sense for financial reasons, as migration can cost up to $975 per server. Re-architecting involves breaking down your applications and rebuilding them in a scalable, cloud-ready design. This may be beneficial for your enterprise in the long run, as your applications will be prepared to take advantage of cloud-native features.


Shared Service Options

Shared service on the cloud essentially means you’re cohabitating with other businesses in a shared physical facility. The costs of purchasing all of your servers, routers, and other hardware – not to mention the expense of maintaining a facility and paying the lease – add up quickly, and for a business trying to grow, they can become prohibitively expensive as you add more capacity.

Shared services give you the option to join a data center in use by other businesses, with which you’ll share the operating costs of the facility. You can keep the services you need in-house and share out others, giving you flexibility as you move your applications and data to the cloud.


Service Level Agreements

It is essential that your business establish a contract that provides you with the best possible level of service. The process of migration, as well as your full tenure with a provider, is likely to be interrupted eventually by a service outage or any other number of technical problems. Running your operation is easier with the knowledge that your cloud provider has a handle on these issues, so you should take care to define and understand the provider’s responsibilities with your data. Know who is responsible for caring for your servers and when they guarantee a response, and work to set up penalties when they fail to meet their obligation.

You can also use your service level agreement to determine access policies and resource management. It’s wise to check that your provider prioritizes service responses by severity. Don’t get stuck in an emergency situation and risk loss of service or data because your provider isn’t ready to answer the call.

Recent technical innovations such as containerization, used by forward thinking providers, minimizes these types of issues as well as disaster recovery concerns.


Quality of Support

You can significantly narrow your search for a cloud provider simply by listening to the market. A company’s reputation will tell you a great deal about the kind of support they provide. A serious data center should have staff available 24/7, ready to address any problems before they turn into disasters. You should take the time to talk to your provider’s support personnel to ensure they have detailed policies on how they handle the most common issues that occur in the cloud, and they should be up to date on security technology and key data trends. The security and quality of their Datacenter is of paramount importance. There is a vast range of quality in datacenter facilities.

It is tempting to select a larger cloud provider on the basis that they’ll have more support resources. These large companies, however, often charge extra fees for support incidents or to keep a support team available at all times. This usually happens with public cloud providers, and if you go that route, you’ll need to anticipate the extra cost.


Estimating Cost

Cost is usually the leading factor in the cloud provider decision, and it is important to know what you’re getting up front. Cloud providers should be transparent about their fee structures.Some hide extra fees that will only show up after you’ve signed the contract and experienced problems. If you tailor your cloud services to the specific needs of your business – you won’t end up paying more for services you aren’t using. If you have stable data requirements and can reasonably predict your company’s growth, a private cloud provider will likely be more cost-efficient in the long term. You’ll be less likely to end up paying extra for software, hardware, and support.