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Friday, 07 November 2014 09:49

Five steps to get your first cloud computing strategy in gear

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For those looking to dive into cloud for the first time, Rick Delgado picks the top five things to consider when looking to create a cloud solution

Companies are always on the lookout for new trends, tools and technologies and how they can incorporate the latest developments into their business. The hard part is finding where to start, and how to build a strategy around new features.

Such is the case with cloud computing. So many companies are recognising the cost-saving benefits and diminished IT risks and responsibilities by operating within the cloud. Company leadership is pushing for cloud integration, but many don’t have specific goals in mind. As a result, it can be difficult to determine where to begin.

There are a few things to consider before you start subscribing to cloud services. While leadership may be pushing for the transition, they may simply want to ride the trendy wave. You’re first step should be creating a business plan as to whether or not cloud computing is the right option for your organisation. Cloud computing isn’t a silver bullet and won’t solve all your IT woes. Look into your needs. What about your apps--do they lend themselves to the cloud or would they need to be redesigned? Is your IT department capable of handling the switch at this time?

Once you’ve decided the cloud is the way to go, it would be a good idea to familiarise yourself with how it all works. Ease yourself into it by perhaps running a pilot project with a minimal investment to see how it works. There are also cloud vendors who allow trial periods before you make a commitment. This gives you some freedom to move at a pace that works for you.

Every organisation’s needs and capabilities differ based on size, budgets and a number of other factors, but here are a few basics to consider when building a cloud strategy. 

1/ Network Security

This seems like the most appropriate place to get started. With the addition of any new feature comes the importance of understanding how it works and how it should be protected. As mentioned earlier, the cloud brings many benefits, but as Apple recently demonstrated, there are also additional security requirements. There are many cloud-based security options that have been around for quite a while. Be sure to invest in something proven so you don’t have to worry about attackers and compromised systems. 

2/ Backup and Recovery

Once you’ve figured out how you’re going to protect your system, it’s important to create a backup and recovery plan. Hopefully you never face this concern, but in the event of a disaster, you need to have your important information backed up. Budgets can be tight, especially with smaller businesses, so this is an area often ignored or sacrificed in order to cut costs. Don’t take this route; your company’s data is irreplaceable. You can easily backup information to cloud providers for a reasonable cost. Be sure to look for vendors with encryption policies so your data will remain safe and ready to go if disaster hits.

3/ Office Productivity

One of the greatest benefits associated with cloud computing is the increased collaboration capability. The office of today has expanded from cubicles to airports, taxis and homes. Being able to access work documents from anywhere, and quickly share them with clients and colleagues, leads to less downtime and greater productivity. 

4/ Review Often

Cloud computing isn’t a one-and-done solution. It’s essential that you continually monitor cloud computing trends. By remaining aware of improvements and changes, you’ll be able to incorporate regular updates to your overall cloud strategy. This is an important step to avoid mistakes or miss great opportunities that will be available over the next few years. It’s difficult to predict where cloud computing and adoption will go over time, so keep your eyes peeled.

5/ Picking a Provider

This can be a challenge, given there are lots to choose from. Be sure to put in the time so you can choose from the vendor that best suits you. One suggestion is to create a list of all the cloud providers that meet your needs. This way you can easily compare features and make the best decision. Also, make sure to look up customer service records and reviews to get an idea of their past performances.

About the Author

Rick Delgado was a successful technology entrepreneur and spent 2005-2011 working for a start-up that researched ways to bring cloud computing costs to a manageable level. In his spare time he enjoys doing freelance work and occasionally writing for Dell.

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