If you are a business leader and your understanding of the Cloud is somewhere along the lines of “that place where my cell phone photos go,” then you have some catching up to do. On the flip side, even if your company was an early Cloud adopter and you were personally involved in your Cloud journey, then you should still challenge yourself to remain open and informed.
Here are three things every business leader should know before moving to the Cloud:
1) The Cloud has REAL promise, but…
The promise of the Cloud is real and is driving major hype and interest in the marketplace. When you use the Cloud, you are shifting the burden of ownership from your company to a Cloud Service Provider. The main advantages of a Cloud model include:
- Adding/reducing services on demand
- Right-sizing your IT systems, based on immediate needs, without having to over-purchase hardware with extra unused space for future growth
- Transitioning from large capital expenses to recurring, predictable operating expenses
Before moving to the Cloud, business leaders should make sure they are actually gaining from these advantages, not just choosing Cloud for the sake of the Cloud. If all things are equal, it may be best to maintain your IT systems on premises.
If you decide to move to the Cloud, look for a Cloud partner who will do the right thing for your company. It is true that the Cloud has REAL promise, but there are also REAL flaws, such as the high probability of getting locked in (think Hotel California) and the risk of sticker shock if your Cloud billing agreement includes variable consumption-based calculations.
2) Have an exit strategy
I have heard first-hand accounts from company leaders who deployed a Cloud solution only to find themselves held hostage when they decided to make a change. The biggest culprit is the data extraction fee. As data gets uploaded to the Cloud (a process you don't get charged for) from users across a company, the overall size of data storage can explode. If a company decides to move away from a particular Cloud, the process of extracting all of the data can be extremely painful and expensive.
Another part of the problem lies in popular Cloud platforms that serve as development layers for business applications. When applications and other technology solutions are developed on certain Cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, there are no guarantees that the completed work will transfer to any other platforms. Companies build Cloud applications that have to be completely scrapped and rebuilt when they decide to run them on premises instead.
Local or regional Cloud providers are more likely to offer an easy Cloud exit. If an exit strategy is important to you (and trust me, it should be), look for a regional Cloud partner who can provide physical access to the data center and a high-speed LAN connection to extract data at no charge.
3) Understand that Cloud deployments are often very complex projects
Cloud companies are known to exaggerate the simplicity of what they are selling. They would have you believe that with the click of a “buy now” button, anyone can be a Cloud superhero. That is simply not true. While Cloud companies are making tremendous strides to deliver cleaner user interfaces and easier management consoles, deploying and managing IT systems in the Cloud still requires much of the same expertise as an on-premises deployment. In fact, many Cloud environments require their own specialized training programs, which means you can't expect existing IT staff to just “figure it out” based on their current skill set. You are going to want a trusted Cloud partner who can help you through your Cloud journey.
This article is an excerpt from the eBook “11 Things Every Business Owner Should Know Before Moving to the Cloud.” The eBook is free and open for public download from the InfoSystems website.