Cloud is becoming a standard in information infrastructure, appealing to public and private entities alike because of its many advantages. It’s easily accessible from almost anywhere with an internet connection, readily scalable to the requirements of a project, and can be adopted by organisations of any size or scope. These advantages are drawing businesses to the cloud in droves. But any transition requires preparation. Where do you start? What should you consider when preparing your business to migrate to the cloud?
First off, consider what setup best suits your business’ requirements. Cloud allows three levels of service. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the basic level, where your network connects to the cloud server and uses its machines to enhance your processing and storage capabilities. The next level is Platform as a Service (PaaS), where your business is given a set of tools on the cloud server to build and run your own programs and applications. Finally, there’s Software as a Service (SaaS), where the programs you require are already on the cloud server; you simply log in and start using them.
Whether using infrastructure, platform or software as a service, the move to cloud services will require a re-evaluation of your budget. Cloud entails a significant shift in spending, moving from capital expenditure, such as keeping your on-premises servers functioning and upgrading them every few years, to operational expenditures. Your cloud service provider will bill you based on your resource usage over time. You will want to get an idea of your digital resource usage under your current setup, and project what your near-future trend usage will be, to get an idea of the shift in costs.
There’s one consideration seen as particularly important to Australian organisations: data sovereignty. In this case it means the cloud servers are kept on Australian soil – some government departments already have this protocol in place as part of their security requirements. With new security and best-practice standards set to be introduced in the next few years, it may be another measure to consider adopting early.
One final consideration is an exit strategy – from one provider to another. Should you need to migrate, and this does happen, you’ll want to be certain you can move your data unimpeded and without leaving anything behind. The research director for GlobalData, Dustin Kehoe, notes that while most cloud providers are open about finalising contracts, a few have been known to operate like the Hotel California – “you can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave”. Be certain to scrutinise the terms and conditions of a potential provider’s service before committing.
Once you’ve planned your moves, try testing the transition. Kehoe says many businesses start with a point solution. “They take one workload, migrate it to the cloud, and the best outcome you can possibly get is a successful project or a proof-of-concept,” he says. This also gives the organisation a chance to uncover any problems or setbacks without risking a big loss. Once teething troubles are addressed, transition to the cloud can then be scaled up.