Should a small business move its computing to the cloud?
As a business, moving your companies IP to the cloud can be a daunting thought, let alone task. The idea of shifting your data from internal servers to cloud-based platforms will strike up all sorts of questions, challenges and fears from Managing Directors to IT system administrators. Moving your IP to the cloud can be a stressful task and one not to be taken lightly. There are of course plenty of benefits of moving to a cloud-based data architecture, which is why many businesses are implementing cloud-migrations into their digital transformation strations.
But before you grab your gear and head for the nearest nimbus, you’ll need to decide if you want to be part of a public cloud or have your own, private cloud, and you have to choose between renting or buying your equipment.
Products such as Google docs and Microsoft’s Office 365 offer access to a public cloud – that works by allowing you to effectively rent your own space in a large central cloud.
The good news is that these services are very cheap. You get to backup your data with additional business continuity options and access the public cloud solution from anywhere for a very small amount of money. For startups or small businesses with limited resources and likely little-to-no IT budget/strategy, this is not an unreasonable option.
However, it gets more problematic the more staff you have. Microsoft and Google are prone to changing their products frequently, under the impression that they’re improving them. But if you’ve got 20 or so staff with varying degrees of IT confidence, even the smallest change can become quite disruptive. Also, changes that the provider’s force on you sometimes require some expert re-configuration of your network settings.
Not only that, but with a public cloud, you have no real control over your own data, how secure it really is and what the cloud provider does with it. Naturally, you would expect with providers as big as Google and Microsoft, that they would have state-of-the-art cybersecurity systems in place to avoid you losing your data. However, we all know how quickly data can be hacked and so the lack of control on your part to secure your data, means you might need to liaise with a cybersecurity company on how you add in additional IT security protocols to safeguard your IP from potential cybercriminals.
If you opt for a private cloud it will be more expensive for the business, but this will be owned IP that will ultimately be safeguarded by your own IT security protocols. There are two ways of managing private clouds for businesses: either you buy your own kit and put it in someone else’s data centre, or you lease the hardware from the data centre.
The decision you have to make is therefore about capital costs versus lease costs. If you decide to buy the kit, you are facing one large cost up-front – but at least, once you’ve bought it, you have lower monthly payments for a few years as you are only paying for the space your kit occupies. If you lease from the data centre you’ll be paying out more each month, but it will be the data centre’s responsibility to keep the equipment up to date and working. It’s like leasing a car – yes, you have to budget for a regular monthly payment, but it covers regular servicing and you get a nice shiny new model every three years.
The problem with buying your own kit is that I can guarantee that you’ll find it hard to squirrel away money for a new server when the time comes. So you’ll keep on thinking you can manage for just another year until your hard drive goes (or the cambelt on your car).
How long does it take?
Once you have selected a supplier, it will take between four and six weeks to migrate all your systems to a private cloud. If planned properly the process can be entirely seamless, but you do need an expert company to oversee both the planning and the implementation.