Cloud Migration Strategy
Every small and medium-sized business can expect to migrate its IT resources to the cloud in the not-too-distant future. However long you might wait, now is a good time to start the conversation about this trend.
Cloud computing has been around for about 20 years. It grew slowly but like so many digital trends, it is now transforming into a best practice quickly. Initially, the idea to place all of the information technology that your company depends on into something as amorphous as “the cloud” was counter-intuitive. Industry reticence is behind us. Now, the question is less about “if” a company should move IT to the cloud and much more about “how” the transition can go smoothly.
As big as “the cloud” seems today, it is poised to become much bigger.
Financial analysts have been researching the growth of cloud services. In particular, they are looking at Microsoft’s Azure, Amazon’s AWS, and Google Cloud. In surveying S&P 500 companies, they came away with estimates that cloud service providers will experience 44% year-over-year growth in the foreseeable future. If the analysts are right, cloud services will grow by $50 billion in 2022 alone. One large insurance company, for example, told analysts that they currently store 5% of their data on Microsoft Azure and they expect that to rise to 50% of their corporate data over the next 3 years. (Source: CNBC/Jim Cramer)
At Electronic Office, our clients are smaller than the S&P 500 but the benefits they derive from cloud computing are the same. We are anticipating that the trend away from maintaining and securing in-office servers is about to accelerate.
(NOTE: We are fully licensed and accredited for Microsoft Azure migrations. We provide our clients with the same skills and talent that giant corporations receive when they are transitioning to Azure.)
Cloud Computing Defined
Cloud computing is connecting to the Internet for activities that were previously done using your computer’s hard drive and your local office server. “The cloud” is a bundle of digital services that connect your business to your data and the software programs that use the data.
The big difference is that your software is in the cloud too. Backing up your data “in the cloud” for extra security is already commonplace, but leveraging your data 24/7 using software tools that are also in the cloud is the big transformation. There are four subsets to cloud computing:
- Storage: Storing, protecting, and backing up files for regular access, often in real-time, from pretty much any device in any location in the world.
- Security: Your data isn’t stored in your locked server room anymore, but it still needs to be protected. Cloud security is a backup that is compartmentalized from storage. It is a failsafe solution if your company experiences a server crash, cyberattack, or other data loss.
- Software as a service (SaaS): SaaS solutions move sophisticated software products like Microsoft Office off of your computers into the cloud. Office 365, Google Apps, QuickBooks Online, and Salesforce are all SaaS products that move your company deeper into the cloud.
- Hosting: Services that facilitate multiple types of information sharing, such as email services, application hosting, web-based phone systems, and data storage.
You may start hearing the phrase “edge to cloud computing.” This is a way of referring to your employees who use your IT systems as “the edge” of your company. Today, your employees are in many locations using many devices, logging on through many disparate resources. That is “the edge” of your system and the cloud is what makes it possible for all of your employees to work together in sync regardless of their physical location.
The Seven Critical Benefits of Cloud Computing
- Cashflow: The cloud uses subscription-based models for everything. You pay as you go and your costs grow or shrink based on your evolving needs. Your IT expenses are much easier to project and manage.
- Flexibility: As your company scales up or scales down, your cloud capacity can easily adapt to your changes. If you move or add offices, the cloud just follows you anywhere you can connect to the internet.
- Mobility: EO Advisor has discussed this trend previously. Where your employee’s work is becoming more dynamic. With the cloud, employee productivity can happen anywhere that they can connect to the Internet.
- Data Recovery: Losing data on your server is brutal. If lost files can be recovered, the process is time-consuming and expensive. These costs have been going up but moving to the cloud reverses the trend. Protecting data stored with a major cloud service provider is less expensive and more robust than trying to do it on your own with your server(s).
- Collaboration and Document Version Control: In the cloud, your employees can work as teams by editing and sharing documents efficiently. Workflow tools for the cloud are now intuitive and secure. Your employees can do more together and do it better. The one challenge with collaboration tools is having somebody accidentally save the wrong version as “final.” With cloud computing, unwinding previous documents and versions is always an option.
- Software Updates: The whole idea of “software updates” as a task becomes obsolete when you use SaaS products in the cloud. Updates happen constantly in the background with no local demands on your employees. This means that the productivity and the security of your software are always up to date.
- Privacy and Security: Data privacy and IT security is not just a set of critical business practices; it is the law and the laws are getting stricter and more complicated. If you are in healthcare, HIPAA compliance is intense. If your company operates across national borders, security and privacy laws multiply. Add to that the growth of malicious criminal attacks designed to steal data, blow up privacy and extort ransoms. Trying to keep your servers compliant and safe is getting much harder whereas cloud services are invested in providing stronger solutions that are easier to implement.
Electronic Office is Ready
A number of our top tech employees are fully licensed on Microsoft Azure. Our service to private companies that migrate to MS Azure is equal to the service that giant corporations are receiving from big consulting firms – except we are much less expensive! We know of no other IT MSP that serves smaller private customers like we do that is also as fully prepared for cloud migrations as we are.
That’s not bragging or a guess. That is what our partners like Microsoft are telling us.
We believe that every private company needs to be exploring the challenges and opportunities of migrating to the cloud today. Don’t replace or upgrade the server in your office until you fully understand what cloud computing can do for you.
As we said at the start, this article is intended to be a conversation starter. If you are ready to have this conversation, let’s talk.