What to Know Before You Go Cloud
By now, everyone knows about the advantages of going to the cloud: Convenience, scalability, ease of management—the list goes on. But with so many ways to leverage cloud technology, it can be hard to know when and how to make the jump. This blog will walk you through the basics of cloud migration and explore the best ways to go to the cloud based on your business needs and IT requirements.
Before we jump in, let’s take a moment to define a few core ideas related to cloud technology.
Cloud Solutions: Glossary of Terms
Business Applications – A broad term that refers to the critical systems that run your business. Email, ERPs, and CRMs are some of the most common business apps. Your ideal cloud solution will depend on which applications your organization runs, how they are configured, and where they are stored.
On-Prem(ises) Server – Physical computing and storage devices that reside onsite at your office. On-prem servers are usually housed in secure, climate-controlled rooms designed to keep your equipment running at optimal performance.
Colocation (Hosted Physical Server) – A physical server that is stored at a third-party location/data center. Like an on-prem server, you own the hardware and are responsible for its upkeep and maintenance. So what’s the advantage to colocation? Hosted server facilities offer redundant power and connectivity to reduce the likelihood of your server going offline.
Cloud Server (Hosted Virtual Server) – Offsite storage capacity rented from a third party, such as Amazon, Microsoft or RackSpace. You (or your managed services provider) act as the server administrator, but you don’t own the equipment. Hosted Virtual Servers allow maximum uptime by providing redundancy across multiple data centers. If one data center goes down, another kicks on to ensure that your data remains online and accessible.
“Serverless” Cloud – In this type of environment, all business applications are hosted natively in the cloud without traditional on-prem servers. In a full cloud environment, your data lives on third party servers, with maintenance and upkeep managed by the owner of the server or application. This model presents an opportunity to remove traditional servers through the use of third-party services. One of the most common executions of serverless cloud combines Microsoft 365 with Microsoft Intune (in place of a traditional domain controller) and Azure Active Directory.
Cloud Migration: Questions to Ask
Okay, now that you have an understanding of the vocabulary associated with cloud technologies, let’s look at a few questions to help identify the optimal cloud configuration for your business.
What Are You Trying To Do?
It may seem like an obvious question to ask, but many organizations jump into the cloud without fully considering how they want to leverage the unique benefits that cloud technology makes possible. This can result in higher costs and mismatched functionality. Avoid this by taking time to carefully consider your business needs.
For example, an organization with users that are distributed across a wide geography may want to improve availability for remote users. There are a number of cloud solutions ideally suited to this type of operation. Another organization may leverage the cloud as a backup file repository for latent records in order to avoid the cost and management burden associated with purchasing a dedicated server.
Whatever your need, spend some time thinking about what you hope to get out of your cloud migration.
How Are You Running Your Critical Business Apps?
It’s important to know how your apps are hosted and configured so that you can better understand the steps that will be involved in your migration. If your business relies on highly customized software running off an onsite physical server, you’ll need to change your software or find out how to replicate that platform on the cloud. With that said, advances in cloud technology have made this kind of migration a lot less intimidating than it used to be.
How and Where Do Your Users Work?
Understanding how your users work is critically important to identifying what cloud solutions are right for you. If the majority of your users work in the same location, you may want to pair a cloud solution with on-prem data storage to ensure that your users can quickly and easily access the network. On the flip side, if a significant percentage of your users work remotely or from satellite offices, a full cloud environment could be the right move for you—especially if you’d like to reduce your IT management overhead.
What’s Your Budget?
It’s the question no one wants to hear, but when it comes to building out a cloud infrastructure, you’ll need to have a defined budget in order to clarify what operations should go to the cloud. A network assessment with a managed services provider can help you identify a suitable budget.
What’s the Best Cloud Solution for Me?
Cloud 101: On-Prem Infrastructure with Cloud Apps
Not ready to move your major operations to the cloud, but need to leverage some of its unique advantages? Consider a self-contained solution that fulfills a specific purpose. Tools like Microsoft 365 are a great way to leverage the cloud without fundamentally altering your IT environment. Other bolt-on cloud solutions include backup and disaster recovery, and bulk file storage.
Finding Balance: The Best of Both Worlds
You’re already leveraging specific cloud solutions but you’d still like to have local access to critical data. The majority of small and midsize businesses can most effectively leverage the advantages of cloud while maintaining high-speed local access and redundancy with a synchronized on-prem server or network-attached storage device such as Synology NAS.
Go Serverless: Unrivaled Flexibility
The attraction of a full cloud environment is obvious: You don’t have to worry about hardware failures and server management is handled by the cloud provider. Plus, users will have access to your critical business apps from anywhere they have Internet connectivity. There are drawbacks to serverless cloud, however. Because of the significant bandwidth required to run your major business operations over the network, you’ll need to make sure your users have access to high-speed internet before you pull the trigger. Another thing to keep in mind: Some serverless applications are limited in the types of files they can open. In these cases, you’ll need to bring files down to your local workstation. Some on-prem infrastructure may be necessary to ensure this data is properly backed-up.
Schedule a Cloud Migration Assessment
Moving to the cloud is a decision that will affect nearly every aspect of your business, and if your organization relies on highly customized servers and applications, you’ll need to spend some time with your current systems to identify how and where cloud technologies can fit into your IT program. Knight Office Solutions’ experienced cloud consultants can help you find the ideal solution to meet your short- and long-term business goals. Click here to schedule a cloud migration assessment.