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Noah Sessions

You can’t open a newspaper, magazine or browse the web these days without running across an ad, article or other data about the “Cloud.” From a consumer perspective, there are streaming movies, music and file storage in the Cloud. For businesses, the Cloud provides opportunities for storage and shared access, hosted applications, and new tools for teamwork and collaboration. We are just scratching the surface on what is possible based on Cloud-based technologies.

So you are thinking about moving to the Cloud? What are the next steps? With so many options it can be difficult to even establish a starting point.

One of the first steps in the process is to take a step back and assess and inventory your current network architecture, applications, and data. Throughout this process, you need to determine which applications are suitable for the Cloud and which are not. Some applications, which may work great for your organization, may not be ready for the cloud.

So far so good, you have taken a few small steps on the way to the Cloud. One early question you need to ask: do I outsource my IT work or do everything internally? There are many factors in play with these decisions. Do you already have the IT talent on staff? Are they up to speed on Cloud technologies? Do you have a trusted Managed Service Provider (MSP) that can help with this journey? The Cloud is very dynamic and it takes a consistent effort to stay on top of new features, functionality, and opportunities! Make sure you have the right staff -- either internal or a vendor -- that can help you make the journey.

After you have a good understanding of your applications and data that are ready for the cloud, you need to pick your Cloud flavor. Cloud flavor? Yes, there are different variations of the cloud - Public, Private, and Hybrid. This is where you need more due diligence. Public Cloud includes providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Rackspace, Microsoft Azure and others. The Public Cloud generally allows businesses to self-manage their servers and enjoy a pay-as-you-go model in a shared multi-tenant environment. A Private Cloud offers a dedicated environment for a single client. If you need higher security and more control over your performance (hardware, network, and storage), a Private Cloud may be a fit for you. The Hybrid Cloud provides a mix of both Public and Private.

No matter what Cloud choice you make, you need to factor in security. This obviously involves the technology side with the architecture, setup, security settings, etc. But you also need to add the human factor. Training for people on setting strong passwords and then protecting those passwords is security 101. The next step is to have them remain diligent to avoid phishing attacks and other methods that add malware, ransomware, etc to their computers and network.

Even with the Cloud implementation, you still need a Business Continuity plan. What is that you say? Well, what if disaster strikes and you lose access to your office? How do you continue business in a normal fashion? That is where your Business Continuity plan comes into play. There is a technology side, which involves your Cloud, computers, phones, etc. and there is the human side. Planning where people go in the event of an emergency and how can they communicate. It is important to have all these steps mapped out and ready to go when the need arises.

So we have introduced many things to consider when moving to the Cloud. Obviously, we have outlined some general steps on the migration process. You will need to dig in to gather more technical data and have specific strategies for your business. One last thought to consider is the overall migration strategy. Remember that eating an elephant can only be done one way: one bite at a time! This same philosophy applies when migrating to the cloud. Establish your overall goal, but remember to do it one step at a time. There is nothing wrong with starting small and enjoying success along the way!

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