By now, the benefits of cloud computing should be well-known to every business. This technology has the potential to streamline business activities, improve productivity and cut costs, so it’s no surprise that it is now viewed as a standard way of operating for companies of all sizes, from the smallest microbusinesses to multinational corporations that have tens of thousands of employees.

Cloud can cover a wide range of services, however, and will mean different things to different businesses. For instance, some companies may only use cloud-based software for activities like email or customer relationship management, while for others, cloud will encompass every part of their operations, from the basic networking infrastructure up. 

If your business is still heavily reliant on more traditional approaches to IT, or you’ve only briefly dipped your toe into the cloud computing waters, making a move to more comprehensive cloud services can therefore prove challenging.   

Understanding your cloud requirements

The first step to a successful cloud migration will be determining what your business needs are. For smaller firms, and especially those that do not have their own dedicated IT departments, a common goal of cloud computing is to gain access to technology services that would otherwise be beyond their reach, either financially or in terms of expertise.

For these organisations, managed cloud services may be useful in providing employees with access to key applications such as Microsoft Office that allow them to embrace flexible working. For larger firms, however, cloud may mean a more significant change in the way they operate, for instance by reducing their need for extensive and costly on-premise data centres.

The varying requirements of businesses of different sizes or within different industries means there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all cloud solution that will be appropriate to every situation. Therefore, it’s useful to work with a partner that can pinpoint exactly what your unique demands and limitations are and help you identify the services that are best-suited to you.

What cloud solutions will work best for you?

Whatever you want to use the cloud for, how you do it is the next step. For instance, whether you opt for managed hosting or colocation services will determine how much control you have over the deployment, management and maintenance of your cloud services.

Finding the right balance between convenience and control is essential in making cloud a success. For smaller firms, it may be beneficial to hand over as much of the day-to-day management as possible to cloud suppliers, whereas larger firms may benefit from retaining more control. Discover the pros and cons of on-premise or cloud telephony model.

The extent to which you embrace the cloud is also up to you. There may be a number of reasons why a business may want to keep some of their applications or services on-premise, whether this is for more peace of mind when it comes to security or to take advantage of the more direct control this can offer. 

Therefore, opting for hybrid solutions where public clouds are used alongside private or on-premise tools will likely be a common option among many businesses. This allows you to make a migration to the cloud at your own pace while retaining control over mission-critical operations.

Futureproofing your firm

Whichever direction your cloud migration takes you in, it will be essential that the solutions you opt for are flexible enough to adapt to however your needs may change in the future.

A growing business, for example, will need services that can be easily scaled up to meet the demands of an expanding workforce, or tools that can be easily accessed from anywhere as they roll out new locations. 

Meanwhile, highly seasonal businesses will benefit from tools that can also be scaled down during periods of low demand to avoid paying unnecessarily for services that aren’t being used, before being quickly scaled up again when needed.

Getting the right solution not just for today, but also tomorrow can therefore be a challenging process. This is why it pays to partner with an experienced and trusted cloud vendor that can guide you through the process and offer advice on which approach to take.

Whether you’re making the move to a Software-as-a-Service offering such as Microsoft Office 365, embracing virtualisation or looking to move your operations from an on-premise data centre to a colocation hub, the process will be made much simpler and give you a higher chance of success if you go through it hand-in-hand with a reliable partner.

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