We are living in the cloud era where everybody in the technology space offers some kind of cloud-related or ‘sounding like a cloud’ solution. And I reference sounding like a cloud solution as I notice some suppliers referring to on-premises cloud solutions as part of their marketing.

So, first, let’s try and demystify by explaining some of the commonly used terminologies and then we can have a look at when will be the best time for you to move your technology to the cloud.

Public or shared cloud – this is normally associated with a multi-tenant environment hosted at a service provider’s data centre(s). This is also known as SaaS (Software as a Service). Good examples of this type of cloud offering would be Microsoft’s Office 365 solutions such as Exchange and SharePoint online or Google’s Gmail and Google Docs.

This type of cloud offering is normally very affordable but might have limitations in terms of what the service provider will allow you to control.

Private cloud – this is where a service provider allows you to host your technology on their environment; the service provider takes responsibility for the infrastructure, but you control the solution. This comes in various shapes and sizes such as IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service), allowing you to choose from which level you want to control the environment. This is also known as third-party hosted infrastructure. Good examples of this type of cloud offering would be Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon’s AWS.

Hybrid cloud – this is where the offering makes use of both on-premises and third-party hosted infrastructure to host a solution.

So now the big question is, when should you start converting your technology to these cloud offerings? This answer is not that simple, but here are a few points or questions that I recommend you consider before you move to the cloud or subscribe to an offering:

  • Connectivity – if you do not have a stable internet connection, I recommend that you invest in that first before even thinking about making the move.
  • Mobility – how often do you and your staff access your technology solutions remotely? Which solutions do you access most when on the road? These solutions are potentially low hanging fruit and should be piloted as part of your cloud strategy.
  • Geographical distribution – if your business has more than one site or office, chances are that your staff is accessing a server located at another office or site anyway. I would recommend that you pilot the cloud with low-risk solutions such as your email exchange and see if that works for you.

In my next blog, I will discuss some of the elements to consider when you select a new solution, even if you are not yet ready for the cloud.

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