Cloud adoption continues to rise as, nearly two-thirds of UK businesses plan to move their entire IT estate to the cloud in the near future, and three quarters expect to increase their cloud usage in 2016.
These are the findings of the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), which surveyed 250 UK firms. With businesses increasingly consuming IT in an on-demand, as-a-service way, common reasons for switching to the cloud include greater flexibility, scalability and 24/7 availability of services, as well as cost and time savings.
Here, Neil Cross, Managing Director of Advanced 365 (Advanced), a managed services provider, gives his top five tips to ensure a successful transition to the cloud:
Decide what to move – Organisations should be wary of migrating to the cloud for the sake of it and carefully consider what services could move to the cloud, and which applications should remain on-premises. The CIF research found that web hosting (57%), email (56%), e-commerce (53%) and collaboration services (52%) are the applications that are most likely to be hosted in the cloud.
Choose your partner wisely – Once data is in the cloud it can be difficult to transfer it to a different provider, so it is important to select a reliable vendor that will meet the business’s needs now and in the future, and secure your data with high-level encryption. Look for companies who hold accreditations such as ISO27001, Information Security Management System and partner vendor certifications. Public sector organisations are advised to pick a supplier that is on the G-Cloud framework.
Be clear about data – Security is often the factor that holds organisations back from migrating to the cloud, and there is some confusion about who is responsible for data that is stored in the cloud. Establish a clear Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the software provider outlining where data is stored, who can access it and what measures are in place for disaster recovery. Businesses that move their data to the cloud also need to remember that they are still responsible for ensuring compliance.
Integrate – Partnering with a Cloud Services Integrator (CSI) can help with managing the complexities of migrating to the cloud, particularly when adopting a hybrid model. Integrators provide a wide range of services that may include hosting, service desk and integration of cloud solutions with the wider IT infrastructure. Using a single services provider can be a more effective option than having multiple suppliers.
Consider culture change – Moving to the cloud means a change in the IT department’s role within the organisation, shifting from a focus on maintenance and administration to higher-level activities such as data management, security and compliance. CIOs need to demonstrate leadership and clear strategy to equip staff for this change and take advantage of this opportunity to position IT as central to the business.
Cross says, “It is not surprising to see that the rise of the cloud among the UK business community shows no sign of slowing, given the clear benefits that the technology offers – greater flexibility, lower operational costs and improved accessibility and availability.
“However, it is important that organisations think carefully about what they should move to the cloud and how it will benefit them. Successful cloud migration depends on choosing a trusted and reliable provider, and equipping IT staff with training and a clear strategy from the top.”