The cloud is not just a piece of technology. It is an evolution in how we use technology and make technology give us more for less. Some believe that the cloud simply means hosting your data somewhere else, but this is only one possibility. With the cloud you are able to get the applications, services and data you need, on the technology you desire, and without spending huge amounts without seeing any value. You don’t even have to own any of it if you don’t need to.
Cloud systems can make your processes and applications run better, as pay-per-use services or on your own hardware. The outcome is technology that serves the business directly, without the drain of huge upfront expenditure and needlessly wringing a return out of systems long after they have lost their edge.
But to get the most out of the cloud world, you should understand your place in it by asking these following questions:
What are your business requirements?
All your problems are business problems. Be it a slow network, lost email or non-existent backups, these all impact your business negatively. If you have ever waited at a customer service desk while the attendee apologizes for their slow system, that’s a business problem.
So this is the place to start: assess your business services and decide what needs improving. Perhaps you don’t like what you are spending on communications and want more monitoring over your call costs. Maybe you want to enable your employees to work on the go, with business resources safely and reliably delivered to their mobile devices. It could be as simple as desiring a faster Internet connection or to cut costs on your software licenses.
Cloud can help remedy these problems, but you need a diagnosis first – and who knows your business better than you do? So start there.
Do you understand the cloud proposition?
As mentioned earlier, cloud is more than just hosting. It’s a new and highly flexible way of using technology. This can realise serious savings and performance boosts to your business.
But it’s not one-fix-fits-all. For example, a telephony service can be entirely hosted, meaning you have no upfront hardware and software costs, other than headsets. But maybe you need faster storage to improve the speed of delivering reports and you require it on the systems that you own. You might want to place backups regularly in a safe off-site location, without disturbing your daily business functions. All of these have different ways of being solved, leading into concepts such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and Private and Public cloud.
Cloud is about provisioning what you need when you need it. But this can be done through your own systems, using the systems of others, or both. You have a lot of choice, so do your homework and pose hard questions to your technology solutions and service provider, such as ITEC.
What is the ROI?
You want to use the cloud, because it offers many cost advantages. It can save you a lot of money, but this is not always the case. Sometimes you have to weigh not what you can save, but what you can gain.
This is because cloud is a new way of using technology, not simply a more efficient way. With the right cloud strategy, your business will become faster, smarter and better. But this is not unlike buying a vehicle for your business: the value of that purchase isn’t apparent until you start making deliveries, which create happy customers and more revenue. Though cloud is not always about upfront costs, the same logic applies. You should still determine what you want out of the cloud service and put those requirements to your solution provider. Maybe it is to save costs by switchin to pay-as-you-use services.
Ponder what you are currently using technology for and if cloud can offer a better way to accomplish the desired outcomes.
Can your business solutions partner help you?
Once you have looked at your business requirements and built an understanding of cloud’s proposition, turn your attention to the solutions partner that will help you make the change. This is important: cloud is not simply a matter of buying services and having them installed. It is a journey which should be planned around your desired outcomes.
Let’s go back to the email example: you want to use a SaaS platform such as Office365 to manage your company email. But what about the details?
- How will users be migrated without disrupting their ability to do their job?
- Does the service give you adequate levels of security?
- Do you need it to cooperate with other applications, such as your CRM?
- Is the service able to scale and grow as your business requires it?
- Can you make cuts easily and efficiently when needed?
Ultimately this will come down to a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with your business services partner. But if they are not willing to tackle the core considerations beforehand, find someone is is more interested in improving your business than getting you to sign up with them.
To get the best advice and support, talk to ITEC. We are home to robust technology and business skills, honed towards understanding your needs and creating a journey that your business can rely on. Our high standards for project management and excellent IT pedigree have created viable and lasting solutions for all our clients.
The cloud is a new world filled with explosive potential for your business. Don’t let it slip past you. But don’t jump in without asking the right questions and demanding the right answers from a solutions managed services partner you can trust, such as ITEC.