Tech Alert: 5 Critical Steps for CEOs When Moving to the Cloud
Moving to the Cloud isn’t really a trend anymore, it’s basically a part of daily work life. The hybrid method of having local and Cloud-based services has really taken a life of its own.
That being said, what do you, as the CEO, need to know about the Cloud?
Accent Computer Solutions, Inc. has been working with CEOs since before the Cloud became a buzzword. When we’re talking about the Cloud, a few questions always come up. Questions like “Will the Cloud work for my company” or “does moving to the Cloud mean my IT support costs go down?” These are important questions.
With any undiscovered territory, there will be questions that need to be figured out. Let’s look at the five critical steps CEOs should take when moving to the Cloud.
1.Why Are You Moving to the Cloud? What Are Your Options? What Is Your Migration Plan?
Before you jump on the Cloud bandwagon (because, well, “everyone else is doing it” or you heard it would save you money), figure out if you need to make that move right now. The Cloud is awesome, but depending on which services you’re considering using it for, it can also come with a shift in operations.
For many companies, it’s a bigger discussion than deciding if you want a server in your office or not.
Take your time to weigh the pros and cons of how it’s going to benefit your company. Consult with your IT department, whether they’re in-house or outsourced. They can help you pinpoint your needs based on the reality of your current environment and your future business goals.
This process will clearly lay out your options so you can make an informed decision.
Once you’ve decided on moving all or some of your company’s technology to the Cloud, it’s important to outline a migration plan. With your IT provider, make sure your business can connect to the Cloud without negatively affecting production.
Moving to the Cloud isn’t like flipping a switch. It takes time and careful consideration. You have to ensure that your business can handle the move, as well as have a backup plan and several points of contingency.
Your IT team should detail their migration plan, including a well thought out timeline of events that include:
Cloud Migration Plan Outline
- Discuss the move with your IT staff or managed IT support company
- Have a backup plan for your server/service in case of an outage
- Create a backup of the server/service and test
- Consult with the vendor to see if there are any special steps needed to move to the Cloud
- Transfer data from your local server to the Cloud
- Verify all data was transferred completely
- Configure the server on the Cloud
- Test the server to make sure it works as intended
- Collaborate with the vendor and your IT staff to resolve any issues
- Train users on how to use/connect to the Cloud
2. Internet and Secondary (Backup) Internet Options
The major downside of the Cloud is potential connectivity loss. You’ll access everything through a web connection – if the network goes down, so does your ability to work.
So, you’ll need another way to keep your employees working. In the IT world, this process is called redundancy planning or business continuity planning. Basically, it’s a plan for the “what if’s” – Like, what if my internet goes down? Or what if there’s a power outage? There are many variables we cannot control. But we can plan for them in case they happen.
To reduce the risk of downtime, your managed IT support company will help you identify and consider redundancy or backup options. Of course, these all come at a cost. So, you’ll be presented with the cost of downtime versus the expense of the backup options.
When your business relies heavily on the Cloud, a secondary source of Internet is generally a necessary step. Keep in mind that having both AT&T and Verizon isn’t always the answer. Sometimes different providers use the same underground wiring to deliver their Internet. So, if one goes out due to a physical issue, the other will be down too.
There are a couple of ways you can achieve backup Internet options. Consider the type of connection you have now and then find an alternative that fits your budget and need. Also, keep in mind that when planning for a backup Internet connection – this connection doesn’t necessarily have to support your entire staff. If budget is limited, think about your core operations and perhaps pick a solution that keeps those key functions online.
Common Secondary Internet Connection Types:
3. Staying Secure In the Cloud
Cloud security practices vary. Let me say that again, Cloud security practices vary. That's why it must be a top priority for your IT support team.
During the Cloud provider selection process, consider if their minimum-security practices meet yours. It would be best to select a Cloud provider whose security surpasses your standards when possible.
Caution aside, one benefit is that most Cloud providers use state-of-the-art security measures. They carefully watch any possible attack and usually prevent it before it can infect anything. Rest assured that with the right provider, even though you aren't setting the security perimeters, the Cloud can be a safe environment.
But here is the kicker, safety on the Cloud is a two-way street. No matter how secure your provider is, if your company doesn't manage it well, you will be compromised. Work with your IT support provider to implement security policies. This includes an active, layered approach to security and keeping all company devices up-to-date. Your Cloud provider will not manage company-wide security policies. Look to your IT support provider to set a secure password and lockout policy as well.
4. Employee Training for Maximum Productivity
Cloud training is like driving for the first time. Some people take to it quickly and naturally; others need a few lessons. Either way, training will help your employees see the benefits of your new Cloud service, and also feel more comfortable using It. Win-win.
Outline the Basics
Start off slow. Give a lunch and learn or a presentation where you introduce the product and its benefits. Show examples of how it is the same or similar to what they already use, and how it will help make their job easier. This is also a good time to instill confidence into your employees. If you believe in them, they will believe as well. The whole point of this outline is to build positive emotion around the new change.
Give Them Time to Get Familiar
Let them play around with the program and find their barrings. There will be a learning curve. If you can, allow them time to fine tune their new environment and find any kinks that you and your IT department hadn’t noticed.
Ask Cloud Provider If They Offer Training
Some providers offer free or low-cost training session. This training could be a great way to showcase how the new system will make it easier to do their job. If possible, do rotations small groups, giving your employees the opportunity to ask questions. Also, give the presenter time to read the crowd and figure out the needs of your employees.
Set Goals and Timelines
Give your employees hard dates up front. From the migration process, down to the date you expect them to be comfortable and working full force in their new environment. Setting clear goals, and being transparent about timelines and expectations, will help them manage their learning curve
5. Your New IT Support Plan
Why beat around the bush, the Cloud still requires IT support. It's a simple statement, with a slightly more complicated “why.” The Cloud doesn't necessarily make your IT provider’s job any easier, and it definitely doesn’t make them obsolete – it simply changes what your IT department does daily.
Without IT support, who handles things like security or backups? What about user support? When moving to the Cloud, determining why your email is down, or why you can't reach your files becomes two-fold. Beyond functionality, there are now several layers of Internet connections to check. And the worst case is pinpointing which provider might be causing the issues.
Your IT provider supports all major functions of your day-to-day, while also supporting long-term goals. The Cloud doesn't replace them, it simply changes how they support you. Don't get caught without email and no IT support. And remember, vendor support is not the same thing as IT support for your business.
Going to the Cloud is not a decision to take lightly. The old saying "If it ain't broke, don’t fix it," could still apply to your business. But if after you have done your due diligence, the Cloud still makes the most sense for your company, keep these five critical areas in mind. And keep your IT support company in the loop. They’ll help you select the best Cloud services for your needs, and be there from start to finish and beyond this project scope.
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