Cloud computing has become incredibly popular, but many business owners don’t fully understand what the “cloud” is, let alone understand the best practices for undergoing a full-blown migration. If you’re thinking about upgrading your tech systems, it’s important to do your research, understand the advantages and disadvantages of the shift, and take the proper precautions to ensure your system’s integrity during migration. 

What Is The Cloud? 

The “cloud” is a nebulous term, and is often used as a buzzword, with the assumption that you already know what it is and how it works. But it’s important to understand what the cloud is, and what it isn’t, if you’re going to make the right decisions for your business. 

It may seem like sending your data to the cloud means uploading it to the very air around you, but in reality the “cloud” is just someone else’s servers. For example, let’s say you rely on a cloud storage app called Nimbus Storage. You can upload files to Nimbus Storage from any device, and recall them on any device, provided you’re logged in. The files themselves are stored on a physical hard drive, probably in a data center, owned by Nimbus. If Nimbus is a reputable storage provider, they’ll also have multiple backups. 

The Advantages Of The Cloud

There are a few main advantages that business owners typically seek when migrating to the cloud: 

  • Elimination of in-house IT hardware. First, by relying on cloud services, you’ll completely eliminate the need to build, buy, or maintain in-house hardware for that purpose. Rather than having dedicated servers in some back room of your office, taking up space, you can rely on a cloud services provider to grant you the same functions. 
  • Cost savings. Though rates vary depending on your needs and the specific services you’re seeking, for the most part, cloud computing allows you to access the same services for less money. That’s because big businesses are handling high volumes of data and customers, reducing their per-unit cost basis; they can then provide you with servers or other IT needs for much less than it would cost to do on your own. 
  • Scalability. Growing businesses often struggle with IT because they’re stuck in a middle ground; if they buy more than they need too aggressively, they’ll spend too much money and end up with redundant equipment. If they aren’t aggressive enough, they’ll expand without the tech they need to be successful. Cloud service providers eliminate this concern, allowing businesses to scale their requested services as necessary. 
  • Security. The security of your cloud application will depend on the standards of your provider. Most high-profile, reputable cloud service providers are invested heavily in data security, with multiple backups, encryption, and protocols that prevent even the most dedicated cybercriminals from gaining access to consumer data. 
  • Accessibility. One of the most notable advantages of a cloud system is its accessibility. Cloud functions and data can typically be access by anyone, and from any device. This makes it much more convenient for professionals who are constantly on the go.

What To Look For In A Cloud Provider

Much of your success in migrating to the cloud will depend on your choice of cloud solutions providers. There are hundreds, if not thousands of viable options for anything and everything you need, so how can you choose the right candidate? 

These are some of the most important things to consider: 

  • Cost. Obviously, you’ll need to think about the cost of your cloud service provider. Compare the cost of each provider to the costs of their competitors. Do these seem like reasonable rates? Are they significantly less expensive than the cost of building and maintaining your own equipment? 
  • Comprehensiveness. Most businesses have multiple separate cloud needs. Does this solutions provider offer a comprehensive suite of services? Or will you need to find different providers? It often pays to have everything under one umbrella. 
  • Flexibility. Flexible cloud service providers are ideal, since they’ll create a package of services specifically for you, and will be more accommodating as your business grows (and as your needs change) in the future. 
  • Security and privacy. Always check to see the cloud provider’s security and privacy policies. What are they doing to prevent your data from being lost or misused?  
  • Communication and assistance. How easy is it to get in contact with this provider? Will you have a dedicated account rep working with you? Will you have assistance during the migration process? 

Migrating to the cloud is a big step, and an admittedly complicated one. However, if you’re armed with the right information and you proactively research your cloud provider candidates before moving forward, you’ll end up in a far better position long-term.