Moving to the Cloud? Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Provider

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

By Jay Anderson, Chief Engineer

If your business is considering moving its enterprise data and applications to the cloud, it’s not alone. Companies across the board have decided that spending time and money maintaining large, on-premise data centers isn’t worth the investment. The 2015 Cisco Global Cloud Index shows use of cloud storage is projected to nearly quadruple by 2020, representing 92 percent of all data center traffic.

This adoption trend spans across various industries each with different technological and networking requirements. From banking to government to media, cloud storage is revolutionizing IT functions and applications. FiberLight deployed cloud computing in 2016, and we were able to consolidate our number of business applications from over 30, down to four – three of which are cloud-based.  This change streamlined our systems, and they are now more cost effective, more robust and easier to manage.

Our adoption of cloud computing has given us insight into the different options available. There is no cookie cutter solution, but the good news is cloud computing services are incredibly customizable. The key to a successful cloud migration in any industry is effectively identifying your organization’s distinct needs.

If your business is considering the switch, we’re here to help you understand the technology and its benefits, so you can ask the right questions. Here’s what to keep in mind as you select the best cloud computing provider for your business.

Four Flavors – Endless Possibilities

Cloud computing has several advantages, from its ability to support bandwidth-intensive applications to its added agility in business processes. But in order to select the right cloud program for your company, it’s important to understand the basics. Cloud storage comes in a variety of service options, including:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): Applications are hosted on a cloud infrastructure that can be accessed over the network or program interface
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): Similar to SaaS, but providers also deliver middleware (i.e. databases and messaging services) and solutions for application building, development and deployment
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Providers deliver computing infrastructure as a part of the service
  • Cloud Monitoring as a Service (CMaaS): An integration of all three services above, combined with a public deployment model

Another vital consideration: public versus private clouds. Public clouds are low-cost models with resources that are used separately by multiple organizations at once. Sharing the resource creates a more economical solution. The private model, while more expensive, offers greater security as the infrastructure is owned by a single organization and only shared with the provider. The 2017 RightScale State of the Cloud Survey reported that respondents stored 41 percent of workloads in public clouds and 38 percent in private clouds. Hybrid options have emerged as well, allowing for added flexibility in storage services. So while each has advantages, the best choice is what suits your company’s immediate and anticipated needs.

Making the Case for Cloud

Now that you’ve learned about different flavors of cloud services, let’s look at the benefits the cloud as a whole has to offer. The first major benefit many users see is cost effectiveness. Because organizations only pay for resources used, operational costs can be trimmed dramatically. This combined with a reduction in use of data centers, servers, software and staff, helps to increase productivity and save your company money.

“Line-of-business leaders everywhere are bypassing IT departments to get applications from the cloud and paying for them like they would a magazine subscription,” said Darryl Plumber, analyst for Gartner.  “And when the service is no longer required they can cancel that subscription with no equipment left unused in the corner.”

With cloud computing services, your employees also gain the ability to access data and work from anywhere in the world. This flexibility facilitates collaboration across widespread teams, increasing operating agility and shortening time-to-market. Companies are now able to rapidly deploy new products and services in a fraction of the time it would have taken several years ago.

For a moment, consider the amount of resources dedicated to on-premise data storage in your facility. By removing the physical components to develop and support these systems, resources can be shifted to other areas within your business that help to increase sales, operation and revenue growth. Which means your resources will be where you need them: benefitting the bottom line.

Critical Questions for Cloud Success

You’ve got the basics down, and may be thinking, “Is this the right move for my organization?” Before taking the plunge, you need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • What are your business’ needs and budget restrictions? – Know what your business will require from the service, both today and in the future. For example, high levels of security or payment flexibility.
  • What security requirements are necessary for your information? – Every company must assess its own data and necessary level of protection. For the sake of your business, know this ahead of time in order to select the protection level that’s right for you.
  • What’s in store for your company’s future? – What may be a great fit now might need some adjusting down the road. Think ahead in terms of where your company will be in five or 10 years, and how cloud storage will play a role in that development in the future.
  • Can your current IT infrastructure support cloud connectivity? – With a migration to the cloud, comes an additional need for proper infrastructure. Meet with your IT team to ensure your current infrastructure can handle it, and upgrade if necessary.
  • Is your network or telecom service provider able to provide high-bandwidth, scalable networks? – Not every provider can bear bandwidth-intensive applications or allow for scalable features. Be sure to find out what your current network availabilities are.

Are You Ready to Make the Move?

Whatever you decide with respect to cloud, your decisions eventually boil down to understanding your business needs and future network strategies. Cloud capabilities have evolved significantly in recent years, allowing for greater support of bandwidth intensive applications and increased connection speeds. However, this support wouldn’t be feasible without the help of fiber optic networks, like those offered by FiberLight. Fiber optics is the most effective way to facilitate Internet connection and service, which is critical when migrating and working within the cloud. With our networks, making the switch will be easy and effective.

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