10 Things to Consider Before Moving Your Small Business to the Cloud
Many small business owners are seriously considering moving their company to the cloud. The thought of easy access to their information, reliable backups, and reduced costs seem to make this choice a no-brainer. However, there are a few things to think about before moving your small business to the cloud. By considering these 10 factors, you’ll make sure that you are actually making the best decision for your small business.
Many small businesses owners are seduced by the thought of “free” or “cheap” storage. However, the requirements of your business may lead to your needing a more robust (and pricier) option. Moving to the cloud can also include “hidden” expenses, such as restructuring your IT department, support/maintenance fees, program costs, etc. You need to take both short term and long term expenditures into consideration in order to determine the true, overall cost of switching to the cloud.
Along with figuring out the cost, you must ask some questions about how billing works. Are you charged per month? How much space/usage is included? Do you receive discounts if you don’t use all the space? What happens if you have an overage? Knowing the rules of your billing will help you determine your usage policies and the impact to your budget.
Do you ever feel that the moment you learn how to use a version of your favorite program, the developer issues an upgrade? Upgraded services can cause headaches, slowdowns, and problems among your staff. Ask for control over when upgrades are activated so that you are never throwing a technological curve ball at your staff.
Many small businesses (such as accountants, attorneys, doctors, etc.) have a legal obligation when it comes to securing the information of their clients. Be informed about your specific requirements before searching out a cloud service provider. Ensure that your provider can give you the security levels required by law so that you do not open yourself up to a potential lawsuit.
Types of Cloud
The most common types of cloud services are public, private, and hybrid. Each one has different pros and cons. To help you understand which one might be right for your small business, take a look at our previous post.
Like any sort of technology, your cloud service provider will have periods of time that are dedicated to maintenance and preventative measures. Some of these will be small and unobtrusive. Others can be potentially inconvenient and problematic to your business needs. Ask how often standard maintenance work is completed and what happens during that work (i.e. does the system go down? Do you lose any access?). This way you can figure out if routine maintenance will have a negative impact on your business.
Terminated Employee Policies
With a normal IT structure, there is not much worry about a terminated employee having access to company documents. You simply remove their access to their company computer. However, with cloud services, many employees have access to company information from all of their devices. Protect yourself and your customers by implementing a standard policy that removes all access for a terminated employee.
What happens if your Internet goes down? What if you accidentally delete a file? Who do you go to if you have a question? Is there a response time guarantee? It’s important to know how to contact your customer support, what hours they are available, and what sort of questions and problems they can solve.
Just because you store your information on the cloud, it doesn’t mean that you are free from worry. While it’s true that cloud storage is great at providing an off-site backup of your work, there are still potential problems (such as Internet outages, file corruption, etc.). When interviewing potential cloud service providers, inquire into their disaster relief recovery program. What happens if a file becomes corrupted? How often are they backing up your information? Where are those backups located? Make sure that your information is continuously protected and available.
There are two things that you need to ask about your cloud service providers security measures. The first regards virtual security. What are the encryption levels? What sort of password system is in place? How does the provider protect against cyber criminals? Any information stored in the cloud needs to be protected from unauthorized users and from malware.
The second level of security is physical. Cloud providers still have a on-site location where all the information is stored. What sort of security measures are in place to protect against unwanted access to their facilities?
Small business owners want to make their companies a success. By actively thinking about, researching, and exploring the idea of moving your small business to the cloud, you can rest assured that you are making the best decision possible for your future.
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