3 Questions SMBs Should Ask When Migrating To The Cloud

March 24, 2014  By Adam Stewart

The “cloud” is an undeniable cultural buzzword, often intertwined with issues of privacy and security, and for good reason. Privacy and security must be top of mind when transitioning any part of your business to the cloud. Cloud migration needs to be carried out carefully and according to a schedule – Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all.

Ask yourself these three questions before transitioning to the cloud:

1. What are my real-time mission critical needs?
Depending on the industry you are in, your business could probably survive without payroll capabilities for a short window of time. But, what would happen if the phones you heavily rely on suddenly went down? Mission Critical items like payroll are certainly integral to a company’s operations and success, but Real-Time Mission Critical items like phones, are crucial to keeping business moving forward every minute of the day. The gut reaction for most companies is to deem everything Real Time Mission Critical – an unrealistic assessment. Carefully prioritize the factors that are most “critical” to you and your customers.

2. How can you spot a “cloud poser?”
Not all cloud providers are created equal. A great way to discern whether a provider is a poser is to evaluate their uptime claims – and their track record for achieving them. Anyone can claim to achieve near zero downtime, but this estimation is unrealistic.  Cloud posers will casually claim five nines of availability, but won’t realize that this translates to about five minutes of total unplanned downtime per year.  Ask to see their actual track record of outages over the past one-three years (under NDA of course).  If they don’t have it, that means that availability has only recently become important for them – posers for sure! And of course, make sure your uptime expectations are clear and warranted in the contract.

3. How secure is my data?
Security and availability of data ought to be a major priority throughout the transition process because moving to the cloud takes away a great deal of control.  Ask if your potential provider owns its own data center gear or if they contract out to a third party. This will shed light on whom else, if anyone, has access to the data. Ensure that the employees able to access the data are on a need-only basis.

Beginning the cloud migration process is no easy task, and it should not be taken lightly or swiftly. Take the time to consider these three questions.  It will ensure that once you get to the cloud, you will want to stay.
Adam Stewart
Vice President of Engineering
Adam is experienced in building and managing highly effective teams that produce relentless service and award-winning products that consistently delight customers. At Autotask he oversees engineering, which includes product development, quality assurance, documentation, help desk and data center operations.
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