In its early days, cloud was oversold in some quarters as the solution to all business IT problems, so it is little wonder the more experienced IT professionals were skeptical. Now the initial burst of hype over cloud has abated, and better-designed service offerings are available, cloud offers many advantages – and an equal number of pitfalls. So, how does your business get better results from cloud technologies?
The old adage of ‘do it once, do it right’ applies here. Like any IT venture, planning and execution can make or break your cloud progression – but if you’ve already hit some roadblocks, help is at hand. Whether you’ve tested the waters, or feel as though you should be getting better outcomes, our cloud experts have shared some of their methods in our three-part cloud migration plan.
Migrate to the Cloud: Step One – Research
In the traditional on-premise environment, we would work with our customers to perform an analysis of their existing infrastructure and of their current business needs, then factor in future plans and vision. We’d assess business processes right down to the individual user level, because this detail is important when you want to get the best result. One of my pet hates is seeing the waste that comes about from expensive projects that fail because of a lack of insight into users’ needs.
A remarkably similar process happens when we begin a cloud project. Our cloud specialists review how the business uses technology, and considers how each user would be affected if their technology were no longer local. For example, if we replaced their existing file server with a cloud-based alternative, how would each user interact with their data? Are there repetitive tasks that could be automated? The answer is inevitably yes.
Identify the Business Problems that Cloud Can Solve
In any organisation, no matter where they are on their cloud journey, there typically are places that we can make meaningful improvements to the way people work. Of course, what adds the most important benefits varies according to business priorities; in some cases, the focus may be on introducing new services, in others it may be accelerating delivery times. Without the business alignment element acting as a lens for the research phase, cloud becomes a missed opportunity.
If you’re starting to gather intelligence, or want to back up what your instincts are telling you, ask users about their most boring, frustrating and repetitive tasks. It might be manually entering data from the website into Excel or having to wait for reports that are out of date before they are available. We’ve encountered businesses that have the same customer data typed into so many separate systems, it seemed almost the entire company was replicating the task.
The next piece of research centres around identifying what technologies are available to solve the problem. While sometimes this will involve investment, you may be surprised to see just how many of our customers can tackle niggling user challenges with software licenses they already pay for. Office 365, in particular, adds so many tools that unless you’re a Microsoft specialist, it would be near-impossible to keep up.
How Secure is Cloud?
For every workload, security must be a primary consideration. When any significant shift happens in your IT environment, whether cloud-related or not, it is a good time for a security review. Where your industry has regulations restricting data jurisdiction, or where sensitive data is involved, a cloud security specialist can guide you through these complex needs.
Transitions to the cloud will inevitably affect your back-up processes, so your research should include detailed assessment of how easy it is to retrieve data, whether a single email or a large group of files. Our specialists advise that some of the most commonly used cloud applications have limits on how long data is stored, so it is important to factor that into your plans.
For businesses to remain relevant, they must be positioned well for digital transformation. Smart use of cloud technology is central, and it starts with research fed into a solid plan. An African proverb reads ‘For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.’ This has never been truer than for those making wise choices based on research into the inner workings of their organisation.
What are the next steps?