Still getting your head around the cloud and whether it can help you at work? Here is an introduction to some basic questions you should be asking.
As part of our coverager of the cloud and how it can help you, we invited Kris Hansen, technology manager at GFI Software to submit this guest column. Disclaimer: GFI has been an advertiser on the BIT website.
1. You'll still need your IT support
Even though your hardware (and software) will be off your hands you’ll still need access to expertise to configure and manage your cloud based services and accounts.
How do you find the right solution? Who can you contact to ask questions? What if it stops working? Managed service providers (sometimes called cloud service providers) can be your contact point to get the most out of cloud services and keep them running smoothly.
Consider Google Apps, a popular cloud service to host IT services like email, websites and documents. The price might be attractive, but you don’t have a number to call for support when you need it. Other providers may not offer support during your core business hours. Having an IT Expert who is well versed in the cloud services you need is a necessity.
Having an easily accessable IT Expert who is well versed in the cloud services you need (and knows of more you may want) ensures the service is configured for your business.
2. You need a way to migrate your existing data
Unless your first day running in the cloud is the first day you’re open for business you will need a way to export all of your company data from the old way you stored it, to the cloud storage. Data can come in all shapes, it could be a excel spreadsheet you keep, it could be a storage file in a local application you use or it could be a directory full of text files such as sales receipts and job notes. This data must be identified then converted into a version the cloud solution understands, and then uploaded.
Always ensure that the cloud solution can migrate your existing data and how much time and money this migration of all your data will cost.
Don’t forget to also consider how you get it all back again if you need to? In order to change service providers in the future, or to retrieve your data for sharing with 3rd parties a cost effective, bulk retrieval method must be available to “get your data out” when you wish.
3. Its easy to try it out first
4. Due diligence… are you going broke?
5. Regulation and compliance requirements in your industry.
Data Privacy, Backup & Security are a requirement in most professional industries. However many Australian small businesses don’t know this until the auditor arrives at their doorstep.
Cloud services can actually help you better achieve compliance in some instances, but you need to ask questions to your cloud provider to ensure you know where your data is stored along with how it is secured and backed up.
Ask your cloud service provider to attest to which security standards they adhere to that can be referenced in any compliance reporting you’re on the hook for.
1. Know what data you want to “move” into your new cloud services and make sure the company can help you get it there.
2. Retain the services of an IT support company for help and advice.
3. Try before you buy and ensure the cloud service is better than your current way of working.
4. Only authorise key staff to setup cloud services and have them stay vigilant over what's being spent. An existing service can easily be expanded, which may cost you more unnecessarily.
5. Is the solution industry compliant? Know your requirements before you decide and choose a solution that can meet your industry requirements.