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Cloud Gazing

Shedding light on how businesses can leverage the cloud

These legacy applications often support special business functions like accounting or inventory management, but have not been upgraded in years. Various custom-built applications for unique business needs may not be optimized for cloud-based access either.

One step at a time
This is when having the right partner is crucial and requires due diligence to find a service provider that not only understands your industry but the unique needs of your business.

Breaking the migration from onsite server to the cloud into well-planned steps or phases will help ensure the move is smooth and done properly. Each stage depends on the one before it, which is why it’s important to have a good implementation strategy.

Smith also suggests installing wireless service to the organization, a firewall to provide antivirus, and instituting content filtering (limiting access to management approved sites). Of course, part of the process is getting everyone up to speed on the new service and protocols. This includes reviewing and updating security procedures with all staff, from simple safety measures (like strong passwords) to scheduled backup or maintenance.

A Smaller Leap
For those still unsure about transitioning to the cloud, there’s a way to test the waters before jumping in with both feet. Using a ‘hybrid cloud’ might be a good way to ease into cloud technology. According to Zumasys’ Giobbi, this is the fastest-growing area of cloud computing.

How does it work? You move some applications to the cloud and leave others tethered to the onsite server. This could mean moving all email to the cloud but leaving core applications, customized software, or legacy applications on the company server.

“Hybrid cloud architecture integrates on-premises resources with cloud resources,” explains Smith. “For most organizations with on-premises technology investments, operating in a hybrid cloud architecture is a necessary part of cloud adoption.”

Smith says you’ll still need the same internet connection speed as you did for a full cloud migration, as well as the onsite server or processor, and a certain number of PCs, tablets, printers, etc. He also notes the cost of entry for a hybrid cloud is higher than for a complete conversion to the cloud or Software as a Service (SaaS) solution.

Figuring Costs
The actual cost for transitioning to the cloud differs, depending on who you ask. Giobbi estimates the cost of using the cloud instead of onsite applications and a server at half—citing the approximate cost of upgrading a server every three years, training engineers, and physically backing up files—he believes this is double the cost of using the cloud for the same period of time.