Cloud computing is changing the way organizations do business. Compared to traditional on-premise infrastructure, application development, and storage, it's cheaper, faster and safer.
As director of business development for a company that specializes in cloud solutions, integration, and modernizing data center infrastructure, I see the positive impact cloud computing has on businesses every day, as they take advantage of new billing structures and rapidly available development spaces. As an entrepreneur, I've taken advantage of cloud services myself as a way of keeping overhead costs under control and using only the resources I need, when I need them.
Are you ready for the cloud? First, let's figure out how to tell if you are.
If you're thinking about moving to the cloud
Executives are always looking for new ways to gain competitive advantages, while IT departments are reevaluating platform strategies and realizing it's possible to do more with less. Below are the most common reasons they decide to adopt cloud computing:
- It minimizes the hassle. Want to spend less time working with moving parts? Over time, cloud computing can substantially reduce application maintenance and support. You gain access to on-demand resources rather than having to buy hardware in advance. And, the development environment is elastic, so you only pay for what you use. It has the capacity to stretch (or shrink) to fit your needs.
- It saves time. Cloud technology streamlines all stages of the application development lifecycle. You can request on-demand development environments in real time, so your developers won't have to hoard space to have it available when they need it. They can also make changes, test and deploy in a fraction of the time it takes to accomplish the same with on-premise platforms.
- It's cost effective. As opposed to the old IT procurement process, cloud computing development platforms are based on subscription pricing, so you can start small with almost no costs upfront, and scale from there. Your CFO will love you because, like many of my clients, you can expense it as a service or operating cost as opposed to a capital expense. And, with cloud computing, you can keep operational costs down since no initial software or hardware purchase is necessary.
- It offers more storage. There's plenty of storage available when you are hooked up with cloud tech, and the beauty is, you only use and pay for what you need. You can also upgrade storage capacity anytime the need arises.
- It's more secure. When we hear about high-profile hacks, we wonder if our important information is actually safe in the cloud. In truth, many of the concerns are false, and aren't likely to affect the day-to-day operations of your business. The giants in the cloud computing industry spend billions to make sure your data is safe.
How to transition once you're ready
Once you've decided to adopt cloud computing, where do you go from there? I recommend taking these five steps to ensure the transition is smooth and painless.
1. Get the tech team's buy-in before making the switch.
Some IT professionals can feel intimidated and overwhelmed "“ worried that moving from their current infrastructure to cloud-based tech might just cost them their jobs. But getting them on board and enthusiastic about the move is integral for the switch to be effective.
Involve senior leadership early on to get their input and ensure their buy-in. Let them lead by finding out the team's biggest concerns and complaints, and addressing them so that everyone feels heard. Enlist those who see the change the way you do to become your internal advocates and help bring others on board.
2. Speak the same language.
With new technology comes new terminology. Make sure you synchronize the team so you're all using common language, labels and terms.
3. Utilize free services and resources.
All major cloud providers like Amazon Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud offer free or inexpensive training, strategy consulting, certification and working sessions. Take advantage of all the free services and resources they offer before you hire a consultant. There are also some great no-cost software options you can integrate with your newly adopted cloud technology, including leading-edge software such as Docker, Chef, and Rancher Labs.
4. Educate and train first.
Only after you've followed the tips above do I recommend paying for pro services or hiring consultants for further training and support.
If you want to start experimenting with cloud computing but you're not fully ready or don't want to move completely away from the traditional infrastructure you're using now, there's a middle ground. You might benefit from a hybrid approach, which involves linking your current technology to the cloud.
Cloud computing can be a beneficial tool for your business when used effectively - consider these factors before you dive in head-first in order to yield the most fruitful results.
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