14 Jun 2016

Cloud series: 6 ways to mitigate risks

Stress-free guide to cloud migrations

As much as some technology evangelists would recommend simply lifting your entire IT infrastructure into the cloud, there are some risks involved in making the shift.

But how do you identify and mitigate those risks?

For CIOs, IT managers and even CEOs concerned about the risks, the key is to take a measured approach to the migration that will deliver measurable benefits while avoiding the potential pitfalls.

The benefits

Why bother? Cloud technologies offer many benefits beyond those most commonly cited. These typically include scalability and demand-based pricing, cost reduction and the outsourcing of mundane tasks to the cloud provider so your internal IT team can concentrate on more strategic tasks.

But there are other benefits worth considering. Particularly if your organization is large, fast provisioning can be a major time-saver and productivity-booster. This in turn generates further savings and can even improve staff morale and engagement, as users can simply get on with their jobs, rather than struggling with technology.

It also allows your whole organisation to become leaner and more agile. This isn’t about staffing levels, more about the organisation’s focus and attitude towards customers and product development. And by allowing your IT team to spend more time on strategic, value-adding projects, they will build new skills. This offers a double benefit: your team members will be able to offer the benefits of their new skills to your organization, and the fact that they’re always learning should lead to a more engaged team that’s less likely to go elsewhere for professional development.

Six ways to mitigate cloud risks

But going to the cloud isn’t a trivial matter. Security and data sovereignty can be major concerns, especially if confidential client information is gathered. And because you’re becoming more dependent on one or more third-party providers, you may be nervous about costs or that the services will meet your needs and expectations.

 So with the above in mind, here are some suggestions on how you can allay your concerns and make your transition to the cloud a success:

  1. Consider using a trusted partner to help: all good managed service providers and system integrators should have expertise in both cloud and on-premises systems. They can offer unbiased advice on what systems are the better cloud candidates, help with the migration and manage the services for you so that you can get out of operations.
  2. Do your homework: before signing up, make sure you carefully check the fine print to ensure you don’t run into any problems or unwanted costs with software licensing, and SLAs to ensure you’ll get exactly the service (uptime, security, backups and DR, and so on) you need.
  3. Get some early wins: any new deployments should be prime candidates for the cloud. New apps with no legacy data and automated processes are ideal … any such projects are made for the cloud.
  4. Prepare your data: it should go without saying, but you’ll need to make sure any data that’s being migrated is ready to go. It’s a perfect opportunity to get any messy data repositories in shape. And of course, make sure your backups are up to date.
  5. Get out of operations: talented IT staff are too valuable to waste chasing operational problems. Let them work on improving your apps and how they interact with your data, not managing the data itself.
  6. Ensure your security concerns are addressed: cloud providers will tell you they’ve got dedicated security experts, and they have, but you need to be sure that the security solutions they offer will address your specific concerns.

In next month’s The Voice newsletter, we’ll explore the risks and myths of cloud security in greater depth.