If you’re thinking about migrating your business to the cloud, you should know that while moving to the cloud can be beneficial in many ways, it also comes with its own set of challenges and risks. This article will help you make an informed decision about whether or not migrating to the cloud is right for your company. First, we’ll review the reasons why your business might want to move to the cloud and some things to consider when deciding whether or not it makes sense for your company and what security measures you might need to take into account when making this move.
What is Cloud Computing?
To answer that question, let’s start with what cloud computing isn’t. It isn’t one specific technology or solution; rather it is a group of technologies that help businesses—and individual users—run more efficiently. The cloud refers to off-site data centers where hardware, software, storage space and computing power are hosted. These remote servers (or storage devices) can then be accessed anywhere in real time via an Internet connection (i.e., through a web browser).
How Does It Work?
First off, it’s worth noting that moving your infrastructure into a cloud provider can be a bit of an adjustment. For one thing, you may need time to get used to how resources are provisioned. It might take some time before you’re comfortable with scaling up or down as needed. On top of that, migrating large amounts of data over long distances isn’t always easy—particularly if there are regulatory or compliance issues involved. Depending on your unique needs and comfort level, you may want help from an expert when it comes time for migration day.
Pros and Cons of Cloud Computing
There are several compelling reasons for businesses to migrate their technology infrastructure into cloud computing environments. However, it’s important that you carefully weigh both pros and cons before making a final decision about whether or not it’s right for your organization. In general, however, there are three key benefits associated with cloud computing: flexibility, cost savings, and scalability. Be sure to read over our list of pros and cons before you make your decision.
Pros of Cloud Computing
If your business is experiencing a seasonal increase in usage—for example, if you’re preparing for a big sale or release—it can be frustrating trying to scale your servers on-premises. In addition to increased costs, you also have increased downtime due to hardware maintenance. Moving your infrastructure into a cloud provider means instant scalability. Your IT team will still monitor everything from an operations standpoint, but they won’t have to worry about scaling manually.
Improved Administrative Effort
Moving your data to a cloud provider can mean some serious administrative time-savings. First, you don’t have to worry about maintaining your servers. Cloud providers are responsible for ensuring servers are always maintained. Secondly, if an issue does occur on your servers, it’s usually less effort to fix because you don’t have to manually solve it—your provider has systems in place that automatically handle server problems on behalf of their customers. Moving to the cloud means more time for you to do what matters most: running your organization.
Improved Uptime & Disaster Recovery
A cloud-based infrastructure isn’t at risk of hardware failure. With an on-premises solution, if your computer goes down you’re dead in the water; with a cloud provider like Microsoft Azure, you can easily make sure that their machines are running without interruption. For businesses that rely on consistent uptime for critical functions, moving to Azure can help guarantee stability. What’s more, since you won’t have all of your data hosted internally but will instead be leveraging public cloud hosting providers, you’ll also benefit from their built-in redundancy features.
Working in a cloud-based environment means you’ll have access to your tools from anywhere at any time. With an always-on connection comes more opportunities for collaboration. Gone are dedicated office hours or planning calls with clients—now everyone is available all of the time. In addition to enabling greater flexibility for employees, cloud solutions also offer client portals that allow you to invite clients into your projects from start to finish. This way, clients can get involved at whatever level they choose while remaining confident that their project is being delivered by a professional who has experience working in a shared environment.
Cons of Cloud Computing
When it comes to pricing, there are a number of hidden costs with cloud computing. One issue that comes up in most businesses is data storage. If you don’t have enough space in your cloud account, you might pay for extra space. This can add up quickly if your business requires a lot of data storage. Another issue has to do with bandwidth limits or what happens when they are reached. You could run into overage charges or even have your site taken down if you don’t use it properly.
While security is always an important factor in any business decision related to IT infrastructure, when dealing with moving applications and infrastructure into a public cloud provider you need to make sure that appropriate risk management procedures are in place before anything else can happen.
Initial Migration Effort
Moving an application or your data into a cloud computing environment can be challenging depending on your industry. Data migration is one of biggest challenges for many businesses when it comes to moving their infrastructure to a cloud-based platform. For example, if you are moving from a mainframe environment, you will have to build out infrastructure specifically designed for servers running in your cloud provider’s infrastructure.
You will also have to develop new mechanisms for maintaining consistency between your internal databases and external databases stored in your cloud provider’s environment. This means double entry of data—both internally in systems that still run off mainframes as well as externally in systems running on servers hosted in the cloud environment.
Learning Curve for IT Personnel
Before you make any cloud-related moves, ensure that your IT personnel are up to date on cloud hosting. Employees who understand cloud computing will be better equipped for work with a cloud host. In addition, think about how you’ll handle routine maintenance for your new platform; if employees aren’t accustomed to maintaining a server at home or in a data center they may not be able or willing to handle routine maintenance of a cloud provider.
You should also consider hiring an outside company with experience in supporting hosted solutions for help with managing costs. If you opt for an outside service provider, have them review your budget on an ongoing basis so they can help manage expenses from day one.
What To Keep in Mind from a Security Perspective When Moving to the Cloud
The cloud is probably one of today’s hottest topics when it comes to infrastructure. Businesses are looking for ways to reduce their costs by having someone else deal with physical servers and other hardware related expenses. While there are a lot of benefits from a business perspective moving your company’s infrastructure into a cloud provider, there are also potential downsides from a security perspective. If you decide that moving to the cloud is right for you, here’s what you need to keep in mind from a security perspective.
Improper Data Access Permissions
In a cloud system, data is accessible anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. This makes it easy for anyone with access to those accounts to also have access to that data. It’s crucial that only those who need access do so and that strong passwords are set up on every account, whether individual or corporate.
Proper Security Monitoring
If you are concerned about how much access your cloud provider has to your infrastructure, check with them on their monitoring capabilities. Ask if they offer any agent-based monitoring or an independent security vulnerability scan. If they don’t provide these services directly, ask if they allow you to deploy third-party agents or perform an outside scan.
Handling Security Incidents
If you’re in an industry that involves sensitive data (financial services, healthcare, etc.), you’ll need to be aware of regulations like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) or PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). HIPAA is enforced by the US Department of Health & Human Services; if your company deals with healthcare-related data in any way—even storing it on your servers—you’ll want to read up on these regulations. With any cloud migration comes risk; however when moving information like personal data it’s important to be aware of regulations like these. Make sure you understand all of your legal obligations if a security incident occurs.
Looking to find out whether moving your infrastructure into a cloud provider is right for you? We offer a free Cloud Readiness Assessment that will tell you what’s possible with your business. Axeleos will work with you to determine your IT needs and specifications before recommending a solution for how best to move forward. Don’t let uncertainty about migrating to a cloud provider hold up other parts of your business.