To the tune of Neil Young – Are You Ready For the Country

Are you ready for the cloud because its time to go.

OK, frivolity aside, “cloud computing” is assailing business owners and IT managers alike. But what is it all about? What are the implications for businesses?

Cloud computing is a wonderfully nebulous term befitting how much a lot of people actually know about the subject. Well, you may have also heard the punchline – there is no cloud – it is just someone elses computer. Now, that’s true – the whole internet is on someone else’s computer. We consume resources every day in the form of email, movies, news, social media etc. We have all experienced a website being offline – hint online banking. It is one thing your internet banking being offline and it is quite another if your whole computer network is offline – case in point – your employees are consuming web services and if either that service or your internet goes down – what is the cost to the organization?

So, before you leap headlong into cloud computing and moving your company into the cloud (someone else’s computer) let’s check to see if you are ready. Here are some things to think about when evaluating the switch.

Internet Reliability

What sort of up time do you get from your business internet connection? Is it reliable? Is it 100% reliable? Do you often need to reboot the modem / router? The internet is your lifeline. If you can’t guarantee at least 99% uptime then there is cause to pause. Internet outages are not all the fault of your ISP – sometimes it is down to cheap / flakey network connectivity delivered via your modem.

Internet Speed

Let’s assume that you have a stable internet connection. The next question is “how fast” is your connection? We have seen basic ADSL connections range from lightning fast to cancer inducing slowness. A slow internet connection will kill productivity quicker than running out of coffee in the office. Before going ahead with a cloud move I recommend that you get the fastest connection you can afford.

How Many Staff?

How many staff do you have? If you have 500 staff at a site and an average internet connection – go back to go and do not choose cloud computing as your sole method of delivering services to your employees. It will be an exercise in frustration. It may be sesnible to opt for a balance of cloud and internal servers to deliver your needs in this circumstance. For example, moving your email services offsite to say GMail or Microsoft Hosted Exchange could be a low risk start because if your internet is down, then your staff can’t send emails anyway.

How Big is Your Data?

If you rely on processing terabytes of data every day and your files are HUGE then this could be another warning. It would pay to evaluate your current and future data needs to determine if working in the cloud is feasible. If you only have some files that are extra large then it could make sense to strike a balance between internal storage and cloud storage. With an average internet connection and multiple staff downloading large files you will quikly kills the experience for other staff.

Can ALL Your Applications Work in the Cloud?

Spend some time looking at how each employee works and what software applications they work with. Many modern software packages offer both onsite and offsite (cloud) options but if your organization relies on some older software there may be a speed bump coming your way. Be careful. If your organization just relies on say Microsoft applications then the cloud may be an easy choice but there are heaps of legacy software packages that can’t be supported this way.

Can you afford it?

There is a common myth that moving into the cloud is going to suddenly cut IT bills in half. This isn’t always the case. There is an initial cost of consulting and then the cost of the project to move your business online. After the move is complete you may find you are paying bills to multiple cloud companies to acheive the same outcome you presently have. Some businesses will find it cheaper to stay on their own servers. It is well worth having a professional financial / logistical analysis performed to evaluate the savings and the possible pit falls.

The above are just a few of the consideration you need to make when deciding if the cloud is for you.

First step, engage with a company like Computing Australia who have worked with thousands of different businesses and can help you make an informed choice.

Planning a move to the cloud? Drop us a line