How to Get Started in the Cloud

May 26, 2014
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cloud migration tipsCloud computing has progressed from a niche buzzword to a business essential in recent years.

cloud migration tipsCloud computing has progressed from a niche buzzword to a business essential in recent years. But if you’re still lagging behind what’s the easiest way to get started?

In this guide you’ll find some expert advice on taking your first steps to cloud migration.

Minimise risk by taking baby steps
Though you may be suitably seduced enough by the cloud to want to migrate in one fell swoop, experts advise a more graduated approach.

First ask yourself ‘what should we put in the cloud?’ Your answer should be driven in the early stages by minimising risk. Doug Clark, IBM UK and Ireland cloud leader, advises firms to begin by migrating applications that are “relatively low risk and fairly generic”.

At this stage he advises against moving critical applications across. He explains:  “Where are the core processes that are absolutely ‘family silver’ to me?” He said “really, really critical data” should be left in these early stages.

Understand your data security needs 
Understand how secure your data needs to be – what’s sensitive and what’s not so sensitive? In a BBCblog Rowan Trollope at Symantec advises firms to consult potential cloud providers on how they would meet their security requirements. He also advises you to get to know your provider before singing up – are they well regarded in the industry?

Target apps born in the cloud
A lot of new applications and services are born on the cloud – if you’re planning to migrate to the cloud it makes sense to consider these in your IT budget plans in the meantime.

Dubbed systems of engagement (as opposed to systems of record such as HR, CRM systems) these applications cover things such as social, big data and mobile.

Doug Clark explains: “Some of those newer areas are almost born on the cloud because they don’t have legacy architecture, or they have the potential for being born on the cloud, because you have them already.”

He said because of this “you don’t need to migrate them, you don’t need to think about how can I move that?” as it’s already there.

Start with something you know
If the world of cloud computing is completely new to your firm, it may make things easier to start with something you already know.

Some 1.3 billion people use Windows every day, while Microsoft Office is on more than 1 billion desktop PCs, according to statistics.

Glenn Woolaghan, UK SMB Director at Microsoft, suggests this means Office 365 is the perfect place to begin your firm’s cloud adventure. He explained: “Even if you only use it for Office it is a comfier environment and a product suite that you are used to.”

Office 365 is powered by the cloud, so you can access and create files in Word, Excel, PowerPoint from any PC or tablet from anywhere with a web connection.

Once you know the service, expand 
If your cloud provider has done a good job of handling the lower-risk applications, and you’re confident in their ability and satisfied with how the service is being operated, you can begin to expand.

Cloud services can be turned on and off, affording you the luxury of trial and error. If cloud doesn’t appear right for a certain area of business, stop; if it’s working then roll out further.

Glenn Woolaghan said companies who migrate to the cloud bit-by-bit “maintain agility and sovereignty by keeping some of the main business apps on site and then uploading to the cloud.”