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Moving your business to the cloud is no longer a choice. All businesses are now expected to be already using cloud platforms, or be on a journey to doing so shortly. It’s no surprise why: using the cloud lets you be agile and move quickly – it’s how start-ups are threatening major global businesses. However, it isn’t just a case of deciding that you want to adopt the cloud, and doing it. There are several things you either need to do or consider before the big move. If you don’t do the right research and planning before you move – you’ll end up creating huge problems for yourself in the future. The journey to digital is exactly that: a journey, and it’s one you don’t want to rush. Do it properly, and you’ll be reaping the benefits for years to come. Do it wrong – and you’ll suffer the consequences.

Know what the main business benefits are

You’ve probably read hundreds of articles about why you need to move to the cloud. However, do you really understand why you’re doing it? It shouldn’t just be because your competitors are, or because marketing leaflets and emails tell you to. The main reasons behind moving to the cloud include increasing your agility and go-to-market times; reducing costs; improving efficiency; opening up new opportunities; better operational efficiency; using resources better; introducing new business models; and being able to scale when needed. The cloud will affect every business in different ways, but these are certain aspects you can rely on. Plus, you’ll be able to integrate your business better, and promote your business as a digital ready company – an aspect that many talented potential employees will look for in a new employer.

Understand the challenges andsetbacks

However, while there are many positives, there are of course downsides to moving to the cloud. Not only do you need to conduct a full business IT migration, but you need to set it up, find a partner to help (or hire in-house to get there), and ensure that no processes are lost in the move. This is incredibly stressful, and when you’re navigating around unknown territories, it’s hard to know whether you’re doing it right or not. In addition, you also need to be aware of the time, cost and security issues; whether stakeholders will approve; finding the right platform and applications; integrating your existing IT with cloud; and ensuring that your new infrastructure is employee-friendly, can work with your existing processes, and won’t pose any new security risks.

Decide which cloud model is right for you

So, when you first start investigating a move to the cloud, you might think that it’s just a case of wanting to move, finding a package, and adopting it. Well, it’s a bit more complex than that. Firstly, you need to decide if you’ll use platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms. Then, you need to decide if public or private cloud is better for your needs. Once you’ve agreed on this, you’ll have to find a way of linking your old infrastructure to your new environment. This might be going down the route of hybrid IT, or it might be adopting an integration platform, like the Celigo application integration platform. This integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) allows you to connect your current files and data with your new cloud applications.

Understand everything about your data and your current IT infrastructure

Before you do anything, you need to know everything about your data and your current back-end infrastructure. You need to know what kind of data you have, where it sits, and how important it is. There might be some applications and data that can sit in a remote cloud, for example, data that isn’t as sensitive or important. However, there might be some that need better security. Knowing this will not only save you the headache of having data in the wrong place, but can also save you money. There’s no point paying for all your data to be highly secured, when only 20 percent may need it. Likewise, you need to know how your current infrastructure is set up. You need to know what it currently requires, and what your end-users’ need from it. Plus, you need to know what its compatibility is like: don’t rush into anything if your current IT won’t play nicely with new cloud software.

Know what you require from a cloud platform

Once you know what your current set-up is like, then you can decide what you’ll need from a cloud platform. Do you need to be able to scale up and down quickly? Do you want a fixed price, or a consumption-based fee? Do you want to manage the cloud yourself, or outsource it to a respected managed services provider? Moving to the cloud is a big step, and one that you have to plan thoroughly.

Decide on a budget

Likewise, you need to know how much you can spend, and what on. It might be that your budget is better suited to hiring an internal expert to push things along. Or, you might want to use a managed service. Having a small budget won’t limit you when it comes to the cloud: if your budget isn’t large, simply choose a provider with low fees. Then if you need to grow, you can add more capacity and services into your current plan. However, you should always overestimate what you’re going to spend, and include lots of contingency into your final budget.

Speak to potentialpartners

Finding a partner to manage the journey to the cloud can often be the least stressful, most efficient way to go. You can simply tell them what you want and when you need it, and let them handle the move and data management. Once they’ve got you to the cloud, you can then decide if you want them to manage it for you, or if you have the in-house capabilities to do it yourself. However, it’s always worth speaking to several potential partners to see what they can offer, before making a final decision.

Forewarn youremployees

Your employees need to know about the move from the start, so you can help them cope with change. It may cause disruption to their day-to-day work, and they’ll need to know why it’s going to happen. Plus, you might need to think about more training for people who have never used cloud applications before. Changing business IT and processes always comes with a risk of disgruntled employees, so ensure everyone has a say before making big decisions.

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