I heard about the cloud….How do I get there?
Before we jump out of the plane and into the clouds, let’s understand what we mean by ‘the cloud.’ Contrary to popular belief, the cloud is not the internet and the internet is not the cloud. Think of the cloud as the destination and the internet is the way to get to there. Just as there are many clouds in the sky, there are many cloud services accessible via the internet.
Another analogy for the cloud is that it can replace something that your business currently gets internally, like e-mail, files, business applications, or even your phone system. Cloud providers have simply removed the need to purchase and maintain hardware and software to run inside your business, all while providing secure access to all the same features and functionality, but it’s all housed in their cloud environment.
Using cloud services – where do you begin?
Step 1 – Take a good look at the technology systems that run your business. You need technology and although your business might have some unique needs, chances are what you need may already be available in the cloud. Ask yourself why you shouldn’t move these to the cloud as opposed to why you should. Once you know what runs your business, you can start moving those items to the cloud.
Step 2 – Implement cloud-based backups & disaster recovery of your in-house systems. By taking this step as soon as possible, you will start to free up your dependence on your internal systems, making it much easier – and less risky – to migrate your business systems to the cloud. This is also a great way to determine how much internet bandwidth you’ll need in the future. Remember that your skyway to the cloud is through the internet.
Step 3 – Next, migrate your most common business technology systems to their cloud counterpart. E-mail systems are perhaps the easiest to move to cloud-based services so maybe start there. Even the most complex e-mail environments are fully supported in the cloud. Microsoft’s Office 365 is a great example of how a cloud service can completely replace an in-house solution with abundantly more features at a lower cost. Continue migrating these common systems to lessen your dependence on in-house systems, and to free your staff up to focus on what truly makes your business strong and unique.
Those first three steps will really establish your move-to-cloud strategy and allow you the flexibility to focus on your core business needs without technology limitations. With the fundamental supporting services now in the cloud, you can build upon them by integrating your financial, manufacturing, sales and other critical systems, and gain an edge over the competition while maintaining consistent and predicable IT costs.
While some organizations may still require some in-house technology systems at the present, the advancements and improvements that cloud providers continue to implement every day will undoubtedly replace these systems entirely. Having a cloud strategy and beginning your journey now will certainly set your business up for future success and prosperity.
IT Resource is providing cloud solutions to clients in the Grand Rapids area, and throughout west Michigan – from Kalamazoo to Traverse City. From cloud hosting to cloud migration to cloud security, we can help you navigate your business into the cloud!