Creating an Effective Cloud Strategy for SMBs

IT infrastructure can be a difficult thing to manage for small and medium sized businesses. Not only are resources tight, so are financials. It’s imperative as an SMB that you get everything you can out of your resources, do it at the right cost, and increase productivity to boot. To accomplish this feat many SMBs are turning to the cloud for help. To get the most out of the cloud it’s important to have the right plan.

So, what do you need to do? First things first, you need to examine your current state of IT operations. How do you manage computing power? How about applications? Or data? Considering a move to the cloud, or more specifically what to migrate to the cloud, isn’t always black and white. Because of this it’s important to know what you’ve got going on. Then, you can begin building your strategy.

Do An Assessment/Identify Benefits

Once you have an understanding of your current operation and its effect on your business it’s time to start determining what you can migrate to the cloud and what benefits it will provide. Of course, you should understand that you shouldn’t just migrate an operation to the cloud just to do it. Remember, there should be not only a benefit technologically but also for the business as a whole. If moving, say, a critical business analytics tool to the cloud will help you lower costs, speed time to market, and free up resources then it’s likely the perfect candidate.

On the other hand, migrating other applications may not be needed or be a smart move. Many experts say that you should use the “three year analysis” when determining if there are cost benefits to the cloud for a particular application or operation. Take in to account the amount of time you need to run an application and how much data needs to be processed. If an application runs 24 hours a day 7 days week every day of the year with terabytes of data the costs of the cloud could be more than running that same application locally. The cloud has a lot of benefits, most notably lower costs, but there are times when the cloud may not be the best case for an application. This is what needs to be determined here – what can you move to the cloud and what benefit will it provide.

Do The Migration First, Then Do Everything Else

Many SMBs try to re-build their applications before migrating to the cloud. It’s important to remember those benefits we talked about before. Taking the time and resources to re-build for the cloud can be counterintuitive. It’s much easier to scale and use the flexibility of the cloud to re-build than it is to do it internally. So, first migrate your applications, then work on refining them later.

Communication Is Key

After determining what operations will be moved to the cloud, and even starting migrations, it’s important to communicate this operational change to everyone in the organization that is affected by it. In small businesses this is fairly simple. Of course, there aren’t as many people to communicate the message to or to help understand the benefits or need behind the process. If an application needs to be accessed by a salesperson who uses the service, an analyst who develops the model, and a finance person who takes payment for the service. Whatever the case may be, it’s important that everyone knows about the migration and how to use the key operations during this time.

Do Everything at Once?

Should you do everything at one time? That’s really up to you. Many small businesses like a more “one by one” or “bit by bit” approach rather than migrating everything they want over to the cloud right away. This can help quell any concerns too. Many are unfamiliar with the cloud or aren’t technologically savvy. This can be a deterrent to using the cloud, which really does have a lot of great benefits. Phasing in your cloud usage could be a great strategy if you’re concerned about hiccups.