As we discussed in our last post, there are many good reasons to take your business to the cloud. But as with any business decision, there are costs, risks and ways to protect yourself. Here’s what you need to know, whether you choose private, public or hybrid cloud technology:
1. Remember That Cloud Security Still Beats On-Site Solutions
Security is a major concern in the cloud, but the best cloud providers use much stronger security practices than you could implement yourself. They’ve invested in infrastructure, tools and processes that provide the highest levels of security and privacy certifications. Ask a prospective cloud provider these key questions, and expect detailed answers:
- Where does your data reside?
- Is the data encrypted?
- How do you move data from the cloud?
- What are your security governance policies and procedures?
Security breaches are always painful, but if you’re in the legal, healthcare or financial industry they can have disastrous implications. Ensure that your cloud provider is as much of a stickler for security as you are, whatever line of work you’re in.
2. Know Your Provider’s Site Maintenance Schedule
Just like everyone else in the IT world, cloud providers perform site maintenance, but it may not be at a time that’s convenient for your business. The last thing you want is unexpected downtime and lost productivity, so learn your provider’s schedule and prepare your staff to work offline during scheduled downtime. A good partner will give you better uptime than you could achieve on-site.
3. Ensure High Service Quality
Service quality is one of the biggest concerns that keeps businesses from moving to the cloud, especially issues related to availability, performance and scalability. Ask these questions before signing a contract:
- What are your minimum service levels?
- What remedies are in place when a failure occurs?
- What disaster recovery and business continuity procedures are in place?
- How portable is my data?
- What is your change management process?
- What are your infrastructure and security standards?
- How quickly do you identify and solve problems?
- What is your escalation process?
- What is your exit strategy?
- What is your termination process?
4. Work With an Expert in Data Migration
Moving workloads to the cloud is a complex task. Choose a partner with good project management skills and a solid understanding of what it takes to make the transition. Better yet, work with a company that has taken its own business to the cloud.
5. Plan for Upgrades
Cloud providers upgrade apps regularly, which means you and your staff will have to keep up with new versions. Here’s an effective solution—assign a few key people to learn the new application, and have them share their knowledge with the rest of your team.
6. Protect Yourself From Terminated Employees
Employee termination becomes more complicated in the cloud. Terminated employees can access your data from almost anywhere, and they can potentially hack into it. Establish a protocol for changing passwords and preventing access for unauthorized users.
7. Prevent Accidental Changes to Sensitive Information
Accidents will happen, and they can blow up quickly in the cloud. Anyone who has access to your network can perform live edits—even by mistake. Protect yourself from mishaps, and make sure that the person who handles your company’s social media accounts doesn’t accidentally put his or her own personal posts there.
8. Realize that You’re Now a Bigger Target
The relatively small information on your desktop computer may not have been tempting to cybercriminals, but now that your data resides with data from thousands of other companies, you’re at a higher risk.
9. Make Sure Your Cloud Provider Asks You Questions
An experienced cloud provider will ask about your business too, including:
- What are your demand patterns?
- When do you get the biggest influx of data?
- How much do you expect your data to grow?
- Do you need control over the region where your data resides?
- What is your SLA expectation?
By 2020, 78% of small businesses will have fully adopted cloud computing, more than doubling today’s 37% (Forbes). Yes, the cloud has risks, but many businesses are willing to take them in exchange for lower costs and greater business continuity. And remember, you don’t have to jump in feet first. Single Path will help you enter the cloud at the pace that makes sense for your business.