Are you making the most of the cloud?

Many businesses have leapt headfirst into cloud technology, only to abandon it later when it failed to live up to the hype. Despite this, technology research firm Gartner predicts that cloud adoption will grow 18 per cent in 2017, driven by its promise to deliver agility, growth and cost savings.

So what are the most common problems turning businesses off the cloud? And what preparatory steps can you take to ensure your business has a successful cloud migration?

Bill shock

In theory, cloud users should be able to save money by taking advantage of the economies of scale inherent to the cloud. However, it’s all too common for businesses to sign up for basic cloud services, only to see additional costs pile up over time.

If you’re using the cloud for data storage, you can expect to pay more as your needs grow. Cloud costs can also blow out if you’re transferring large volumes of data out of the cloud, running CPU or memory-intensive apps, or not deleting unused workloads.

To avoid overspending, it’s important to list the additional resources and features you think you’re likely to use. Reporting tools and dashboards can also help by alerting you if you’re about to cross a threshold that will incur additional charges.

Inconsistent performance

A common assumption is that cloud resources are infinite. However, when you use a public cloud service, you’re sharing the infrastructure with a lot of other people. That means the cloud provider needs to distribute memory, storage and other resources in a way that ensures the best overall performance.

This also means that performance lags will be inevitable. This can make the public cloud less suitable for apps with rigid performance requirements, such as real-time data analytics. Also, keep in mind that your cloud service will only be as reliable as the internet connection between your business and the cloud.

For this reason, many businesses are choosing to deploy business-critical apps and data on private servers, with less critical information, such as sales metrics, stored in the public cloud. Leading cloud providers, like Microsoft and Google Cloud, now offer tools and services that make it easier to manage this kind of hybrid model.

Control and compliance

There is also the lack of control to consider when choosing a public cloud service. With a dedicated server, you’re given full administrative control, freedom to customise hardware and more. This allows you to optimise system performance and resource usage in ways that may not be possible in the cloud.

You may also encounter compliance issues with the cloud, particularly if dealing with confidential records or intellectual property. This is another reason why some organisations opt for private servers or hosting options over a public cloud.

How can you ensure a successful cloud migration?

The cloud is best suited to businesses that want to avoid having to purchase expensive IT systems and equipment, and don't mind accessing their apps over the web. Steps you can take to ensure a successful cloud migration for your business include:

  • Have a phased migration plan that has less-critical apps and data being moved to the cloud first.
  • Consider transitioning to cloud-native, software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps, rather than moving your existing apps to the cloud.
  • Have a comprehensive rollback plan in place if you need to revert.
  • Avoid cloud providers that try to lock you into expensive plans.

With the proper arrangements, the cloud can provide exceptional scalability and collaboration efficiency, and reduce IT costs. Understanding both its strengths and weaknesses is critical to overcoming any cloud migration challenges.

Technologies to boost business productivity

Technologies to boost business productivity

Productivity-boosting technologies you can use today

When it comes to technology, most of the talk is about tomorrow. But the truth is, many of the tools you need are here today. Using technology efficiently can boost business productivity in spades and most of it, surprisingly, is more convenient, collaborative and affordable than the clunky old systems of yesterday.

Let’s start with the granddaddy of all – productivity boosters.

How to develop a backup storage plan for your business

How to develop a backup storage plan for your business

With storage cheap and plentiful, SMBs process more data than ever before. It also means that loss of such data can hit the business hard in the hip pocket. So it's worth devising a solid data backup strategy for your business.

Many smaller businesses skimp on their data backup, considering it too expensive or time-consuming. But with events like hardware failure, natural disasters, malicious software and ordinary human error waiting to decimate your data, it's not a matter of if it happens but when. In short, backup is your digital insurance policy. Here are some tips on how to get your data backups in order.

Want to Cry? 7 IT security risks businesses cannot ignore

Want to Cry? 7 IT security risks businesses cannot ignore

Cybersecurity threats are often associated with larger corporates and multinationals. But the truth is that – as with the recent WannaCry ransomware virus – businesses of any size are at risk.

Unfortunately, many small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) don't take the threat seriously, or they don't have the resources to manage them. This makes them ill-prepared to safeguard against an attack, and vulnerable to having their operations disrupted. A 2012 study in the US found that 60 per cent of SMBs go out of business within six months of a breach.

Ransomware does not have to succeed

Ransomware does not have to succeed

WannaCry ransomware made global headlines recently as it infiltrated thousands of SMBs as well as larger operations like telcos, schools and hospitals, including some large-scale victims like the UK’s National Health Service.

Be assured, this is not the first ransomware infection of its kind, and it won’t be the last. For most businesses, the question isn’t if they will be hit, but when. Cybercriminals are constantly releasing new variants with modified code that look to exploit fresh loopholes, so the ransomware threat will remain persistent.