Being involved with a large number of businesses across a wide spread of industry’s over the last number of years, it is hard to ignore the fact that one of the hot topics in IT is cloud based technology. Certainly moving forward this is only going to become more of a focus with technologies like Software Defined Networking and Converged Platforms (Convergence) being pushed by the big names in IT.
Nowadays the majority of a company’s IT can be moved to the cloud. It would actually be quicker to list what can’t be moved to the Cloud. We often see that a company will make its first step to the cloud with their software, such as Office 365 and many CRM systems. Then further migration will see Applications, Company Data, Telecoms and Collaboration tools all moving over. Businesses that want to be fully cloud based will also move their infrastructure across as well. There are many reasons why more and more companies are doing this (I have listed some below) but there are also some things to consider before moving over, to make sure all goes smoothly.
• Flexibility – Easy to scale up and down with business growth
• Automatic Software Updates – Suppliers will roll out all updates
• Capital Expenditure Free – Cuts out the cost of most IT hardware
• Lower overall costs – Lower power, people and maintenance costs.
• Work from Anywhere – Can access any work information remotely and securely
• Document Control – Single point access to all shared documents
• Security – High levels of access security to all data and the network
• Competitiveness – Cloud can give enterprise quality technology to everyone.
• Environmentally Friendly – Reduces your company’s carbon footprint
Is your network ready? – Once any information/Infrastructure is stored up in the Cloud, you need to make sure that you have a high quality internet connection to any office that connects. This is so that any access is smooth and without delay. The amount of web-based activity on your network will be vastly increased and easily slowed down by an insufficient connection causing delay to your access. You will also need to make sure that the internal network itself including the Wi-Fi network is up to the job as the higher levels of data can bottleneck on any outdated or insufficient hardware or installed software.
Choosing the right cloud service provider – There are 4 different tiers of Data Centre, Tier 1 being the least secure and Tier 4 being the highest security levels. The higher the Tier you will also see a difference in the reliability levels and the quality of hardware.
• Tier 1: composed of a single path for power and cooling distribution, without redundant components, providing 99.671% availability.
• Tier 2: composed of a single path for power and cooling distribution, with redundant components, providing 99.741% availability
• Tier 3: composed of multiple active power and cooling distribution paths, but only one path active, has redundant components, and is concurrently maintainable, providing 99.982% availability
• Tier 4: composed of multiple active power and cooling distribution paths, has redundant components, and is fault tolerant, providing 99.995% availability.
Where will your data be stored? Do you know what country your data will be stored in? Due to strict legal requirements you need to be sure that your data is being stored in the right place. As data centres are cloud based they can have a physical storage location anywhere in the world. This means that data is subject to the laws in the country it is stored in not the country your office is in.
User Access – Managing user accounts can be an issue as there will be many accounts per user and this can start to become an issue once staff leaves the company. Users can have a large number of separate accounts be it for the CRM, ERP, intranet or one of the other multitudes of tools they require. The issue that can occur once a member of staff leaves the company is when one (or more than one) of these accounts is not closed. This happens more that you would think and leaves the companies network and information accessible to outside access. There are best practice procedures that can be put in place to help prevent this and there are also technologies (Data federation software) being developed to make all accounts accessible through one login. (Microsoft Azure AD)