You have evaluated the options and decided that moving your internal information systems to the cloud is the best option for your business, but how do you actually make the transition? Without proper planning, it is easily possible to end up with a solution that does not fit your company’s needs and lacks a fully-integrated infrastructure architecture. This guide should facilitate your move to the cloud and answer any lingering questions that you might have.

Identify Important Features

A good starting point is to build a list of must-have features that you need your cloud to provide. This list could include anything, ranging from internal instant messaging to video conferencing, and from archiving to voicemail in email. It is important to involve key staff members from within your organization in this discussion, as they will also need to feel comfortable in the new cloud environment. And always remember to anticipate what functionality your business may need three to five years in the future, as you want to be confident the vendor you choose is able to meet these requirements. Do not rely solely on your in-house IT staff; if possible, bring in an outside IT consultant to help you evaluate these needs and ask your colleagues and peers about cloud solutions they use.

Vendor Evaluation

When researching possible vendors, it is essential to do your due diligence. Give yourself the time you need to research vendors and to make your decision. There are several factors to consider when determining which cloud provider is right for your company. The first is availability, as this dictates how much “uptime” the vendor guarantees their network will have. The industry minimum standard uptime is 99.9%, or only 0.1% of downtime, which still represents 8 hours and 46 minutes per year. Most vendors will guarantee 99.99% of uptime, which is about 53 minutes of downtime per year. This information is all readily available to customers in Service Level Agreements (SLAs), which outline the guaranteed uptime and amount of credit that can be received if it is not met.

Do not simply look at the solutions that the vendor provides, but also ask about what type of application development support is offered. Many companies do not realize that aside from transitioning to the cloud, applications must be developed within the cloud infrastructure in order to achieve maximum effectiveness of the solution. In some cases, cloud providers simply host the cloud and do not offer additional development services and the customer must find a third party.

Remember Scalability

Another key factor to consider is scalability, which is the ease at which you can increase or decrease your users and cloud applications. This is important because it allows you flexibility to scale up or down your IT requirements to accommodate fluctuations in your business needs. The benefit is that you can easily support your business growth without expensive changes to your existing IT systems.

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