Many of our customers are at some stage of their digital transformation journey with cloud computing becoming a cornerstone for these SME businesses. It offers a whole host of benefits like scalability, flexibility, and significant cost savings. However, the variety of options can make the journey to the cloud seem overwhelming. This guide has been developed to assist SMEs in making informed decisions to choose the cloud solution that aligns best with their business needs and it is based on our hands on experience helping businesses just like you!
Get to grips with your business needs
Before diving into the cloud, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your business needs. Evaluate your existing IT infrastructure, identify essential applications and services, and understand your storage and computing needs. A solution tailored to your specific needs will yield the most benefits.
Budget and track costs
While cloud computing is cost-effective, defining a budget is essential. You’ll need to take into consideration recurring costs, such as subscription fees, data storage costs, and bandwidth charges, and weigh them against the potential Return on Investment (ROI). The ROI includes enhanced efficiency and productivity and reduced IT infrastructure costs.
Cloud computing models are primarily categorised into public, private, and hybrid clouds. Public clouds like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) offer shared computing resources. In contrast, private clouds are dedicated to a single organisation, often hosted by a third-party service provider or an on-site datacenter. Hybrid clouds bring together the benefits of both, providing versatility and optimisation.
Stay safe, prioritise security and compliance
Security is non-negotiable when selecting a cloud computing solution. Go for providers with robust security protocols, including data encryption, firewalls, and access controls. Additionally, ensure the provider adheres to relevant regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Other good certificates to look out for is SOC 2 Type 2.
Also look for providers who are able to provide data sovereignty if your data has to live in a certain specific geography.
Read the small print
SLAs are contractual agreements that define the service levels provided by the cloud provider. They include guarantees for uptime, availability, and performance, with specified penalties for non-compliance. An in-depth evaluation of SLAs is essential to align service levels with business needs.
You may see SLA levels displayed in the format 99.99 or 99.999 (often described as five 9s) this corresponds to the amount of downtime in a given period, some examples of this are listed below.
99.95 allows for 21m 44s of downtime a month
99.99 allows for 4m 21s of downtime a month
99.999 allows for 26s of downtime a month
This isn ‘t to say you’ll see downtime but that is what is contractually allowed.
Think about the future
Scalability and flexibility are significant advantages of cloud computing. Choose a solution that can easily scale to accommodate growing demands and offers the flexibility to deploy applications in various environments and integrate with other systems. Think about if a company has a history of depreciating products and the lifecycle of its services, we’re looking at you Google.
Opt for some TLC
Beyond technology, support and customer service are critical considerations. Go for a cloud provider known for its round the clock support, customer service reputation, and availability of resources. Keep in mind the access to documentation and training to maximise the benefits of your cloud solution.