How to Transition to the Cloud: The Basics

There’s no denying that, in today’s technological landscape, there is an ever-growing, prevalent shift to cloud computing.

In fact, Forrester predicts that more than 50% of global enterprises will rely on at least one public cloud platform to drive digital transformation and delight customers. Moreover, according to Forbes, the total global public cloud market will be $178B in 2018, up from $146B in 2017, and will continue to grow by 22% a year.

If nothing else, these statistics show just how significant the move to the cloud is, and what a large role cloud-based tools are playing today. And for good reason; when properly executed, a move to the cloud can help businesses increase their customer engagement and revenue while improving performance, security, and reliability.

Here, we dispel any confusion that you may have about the cloud and break down how - and why - to begin transitioning your business to the cloud.

What Exactly is The Cloud?

There a many forms of cloud services out there, including SaaS, IaaS, private cloud, public cloud, and PaaS. As a result, there’s a lot of confusion and miscommunication when it comes to understanding the cloud, how it works, and how you can actually use it for your business.

When we talk about the cloud, we’re really talking about a network of servers, each of which has a specific function or purpose. And when individuals or companies move something to the cloud, they’re generally making a switch from on-premise, physical hardware or software to that network of servers - or, more specifically, to cloud-based infrastructure-as-a-service or software-as-a-service.

Who Is Moving to the Cloud Today

This is something that we already do all the time, whether we realize it or not. If you take a photo on your smartphone, for example, it’s not on the cloud - it’s on your personal hardware. But, upload it to Instagram or sync it to your iTunes, you’ve uploaded it to the cloud.

On a larger scale, most businesses today already include a cloud component in their infrastructure. In fact, according to a recent survey:

  • 81% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy.
  • Public cloud adoption increased to 92% in 2018, up from 89% in 2017.
  • 38% of companies see the public cloud as their top priority, up from 29% in 2017.

Why: The Benefits of the Cloud

For businesses, this shift usually has important positive implications for finances, security, and overall efficiency. With the cloud, companies:

  • Become more efficient: Allow all team members to access information through the internet - no matter their location or computer.
  • Save money: With cloud software, you no longer have to purchase costly hardware equipment that depreciates over time.
  • Increase flexibility: It’s easy to scale according to your current needs and bandwidth, ensuring that you have the right amount of computing power no matter the size of your business.
  • Enjoy automatic updates: Regular updates - including security updates - happen automatically, taking a lot of stress of your hands.
  • Disaster recovery: Cloud-based backup and recovery solutions can cost efficient and extremely helpful in case of an emergency.
  • Stimulate innovation: Cloud services always release new features and functions. Additionally, they allow organizations to shift their focus away from operations and towards developing capabilities in forward-looking areas like machine learning or AI.

How to Start Moving to the Cloud: The Basics

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to moving to the cloud and deciding which aspects of your business you want to restructure. That said, here are some basic guidelines that can help with the transition:

Understand the Landscape

First, you have to know exactly what you’re dealing with, and whether or not your company is equipped to handle it. This means, first, that you must understand the benefits, risks, and pitfalls that are commonly associated with your cloud solution. Then, assess your own business capabilities and processes: do you have the IT skills to plan and implement your cloud solution? Do you know what will happen as far as privacy and data ownership? Do you have the proper security measures in place? Do you have the company culture to accept the shift? Answering these questions ahead of time is imperative to a successful transition to the cloud.

Develop Your Plan

Here’s where you figure out what to migrate, where to migrate it to, and why. Define your objectives and determine what solutions will help you meet that objective and hit your goals. As Deloitte notes, this is all about finding the happy medium between functions that your company wants to push to the cloud and functions the cloud can actually take on. Again, “not all workloads are suitable for cloud environments and, similarly, not all cloud capabilities may provide the same level of strategic alignment with an organization’s vision.” So assess your business and figure out where a cloud migration actually makes sense - then take it from there.

Implement and Migrate

Once you have developed your cloud migration strategy, it’s time to actually migrate to the cloud. This means moving your data, applications, or business files onto the cloud servers. We recommend that you simplify and streamline this process by using an effective data integration tool to execute these migrations. Why?

There are various problems that can arise during and after data migration - you have to consider things like:

  • Data security
  • Application compatibility
  • Database compatibility
  • Understanding and using the data itself

A data integration tool can help you with all of these considerations and risks, helping you successfully migrate your data and use it for analytics and insights.

Constantly Review and Evolve

Cloud services are advanced, scalable, and highly flexible - they allow businesses to change their processes, shift their thinking, and try new things easily and with very little negative impact. So the last step is to make sure that you’re taking advantage of these tools and really using them to improve your business.

In the big picture, cloud enablement must go hand-in-hand with a well-defined vision and a revamp of the organizational structure (if necessary). Only then can businesses make a successful, profitable transition to the cloud.

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