12 Brilliant Cloud Computing Services Tips to Get You Started in 2012
Whether you've resolved to move to the cloud this year or you're just researching the plethora of cloud computing service options, here are 12 tips to get you started in 2012.
1. Interview your employees on what they need to do that the cloud enterprise will need to support. All sorts of new work strategies will be revealed as a result of this internal assessment and discussion - make good use of the information and use it to design your cloud interface well and sufficiently (Billie G. Blair, PhD, President/CEO, Change Strategists, Inc.)
2. Take a holistic approach: examine how your business processes are supported (or not) by the systems and people in place, determine what's redundant, what's inefficient and where there are gaps. Based on this research, you can then build a sourcing strategy to determine what functions should be outsourced, to whom, and when. (John L. Nicholson, Counsel, Global Sourcing Practice of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP)
3. Does it serve a business need? You may be experiencing explosive growth with limited on-premise IT capacity. Or perhaps your employees are frustrated with the instability of your in-house IT system. Today’s businesses are no longer confined to a specific geographic location, and a centralized remote repository might be a business need. Bottom line: Tying your cloud decision to a specific business benefit will help you gauge and monitor the ROI of your cloud investment. (IsUtility Cloud Computing Services)
Signs it’s Time to Migrate to The Cloud
4. You are in high growth mode and cannot reliably predict resource requirements over the next few years. Your transactions may double or triple in the next few years. Or they may grow 10 fold. How do you purchase now for what your company may look like three years from now? While you may have completed a project now that you think will serve you for a few years you may end up starting the same project next year because you blew away your forecasts. (Alan Jurysta of AdvenTech)
Setting Expectations When Moving to a Cloud Computing Provider
5. Understand that better security, availability and service levels come at a cost. The price may seem higher than your typical IT spend, but realize that in many cases, you’ll no longer have to budget for unforeseen issues like unexpected tech-refreshes, sever crashes, virus attacks, etc. (Sean Kapoor, Gestalt Health)
6. Determine True Cost Savings: Know beforehand just how much money the cloud is saving you. Many executives don’t have a good grasp of the “hidden costs” of on-premise IT, such as management time discussing IT, software / hardware maintenance costs, and employee salary/benefits. Beware of cloud service provider that run you on the rails and overcharge for certain add-on features.
Bottom line: Work with your potential cloud provider to understand what you’re truly paying for IT now versus what it will cost to move to the cloud. Also, be sure to ask your provider what’s not included. The last thing you want is to be nickeled-in-dimed after signing a long-term contract. (IsUtility Cloud Computing Services)
Questions to Ask a Prospective Cloud Computing Provider
7. Ask about the location of their cloud. Is it their own or are they renting cloud space from someone else? How will they support it? What happens if their cloud goes down, do they have a backup or redundant cloud site? Ask for references from companies with similar needs as yours, and in the same industry. (Heinan Landa is CEO of Optimal Networks)
8. Ask about service levels. An availability guarantee doesn’t cover system performance, support resolution times, or time to resolve billing disputes. Review the SLA (service level agreement) and establish performance metrics that will work for your organization. Ask your provider for metrics such as, “average time to resolve technical issues” and “percentage of issues resolved on the first call.” (Joshua Cole, COO, Assura Consulting)
Mitigating the Risks
9. Have security provisions built into the contract. Forty-six states have adopted laws requiring notification upon an inadvertent disclosure of personal information. Ideally, the contract should require the vendor to notify its customer of any data security breach so that the customer can determine the appropriate course of action. If the security breach is caused by the vendor, then the costs should be borne by the vendor. (Polly A. Dinkel, Sideman & Bancroft LLP)
10. No public email. There are quite a few, but let’s start with email – a technological necessity today. While most firms don’t have encrypted email capabilities, I believe law firms should not resort to public email, such as Gmail or Hotmail. Since firms must save their email communications, they should make certain that emails can be archived in an efficient and secure matter - without having to deal with additional “storage charges.” (Milton L. Petersen of Hunter, Maclean, Exley & Dunn, P.C..)
Transitioning to a Cloud Computing Service
11. Uptime: If you are going to partner with cloud service providers, you should know their track record with uptime. If your cloud has issues with being offline, having slow response time to incidents, or even data loss and questionable backup systems, this is information that should be taken into account. Bottom line: Request an uptime guarantee with built-in financial penalties for the provider. (IsUtility Cloud Computing Services)
12. Ask for a trial period and test the cloud solution. Send a note to customer service and see what you get back. There promptness and helpfulness will tell you a lot. Also, make sure it is easy to unsubscribe. Services that make this difficult are not to be trusted. Rhondalynn Korolak, of Imagineering)
Ready to get going with cloud computing in 2012? Register for a complimentary educational webinar "5 Steps to Understanding & Implementing Cloud Computing"