With your business in the cloud, you’re accessible anywhere, anytime, on any device leaving you and your employees free to work regardless of where they are. With Microsoft Dynamics 365, there are no boundaries to what you can achieve. But before you dive in, let’s take a look at what you need to consider when evaluating the prospect of moving your business application to the cloud or keeping it on-premise:
ASSESS THE DANGERS
List the risks are associated with your business and assess how technology can help you mitigate these threats? Perhaps you’re contemplating a disaster recovery strategy that include appointing offshore staff. Cloud computing could be an enabler, but needs careful evaluation. Be aware of potential risks, look for them and plan accordingly.
PEOPLE & PROCESSES
As with nearly all business challenges, a move into the cloud has very little to do with the technology used and a great deal more to do with the people involved in the exercise. Moving to the cloud requires new rules, guidelines, and procedures to the company, and any business leader will say that company cultural changes require time and patience to bed down. Exercising detailed change management so that the new systems and methods are accepted and do not disrupt your business is crucial.
UNDERSTAND YOUR BUSINESS CHALLENGE
There are many reasons you may want to migrate all or part of your systems to the cloud: agility, flexibility, performance, cost, digital transformation, etc. Your business objectives must dictate your cloud strategy.
GETTING OVER THE “50 REASONS NOT TO” SYNDROME
Everyone who is anti-cloud will fill you with horror stories,
- will the cloud be more secure than my internal data centre?
- can my cloud provider maintain my uptime standards?
- will their technical support address my problems quickly?
- will I be important to them?
- will they still exist in five years time?
- what happens when something goes wrong?
The answer to all of these should be sought during your due diligence on the provider and the partner you choose. Be sceptical but take advice.
Security is often the most common concern and real-life issue. Business leaders will often ask “where is my data”, “how secure is it”, “do the cloud service companies have access to my systems”. All of these are legitimate questions and need to be asked and answered. Recent very high profile incidents have proven how exposed computer systems can be to interference and this threat will only increase over time. Even though most cloud providers’ security levels are far greater than most organisations’ in-house measures, you should still ensure they offer SLAs of at least 99.8%, or guarantees for security provision and audits. When migrating to the cloud, companies should obtain third-party reports that attest to the security of the cloud partner.
Many cloud providers have data centres deployed across multiple regions. The physical distance between the user and the data centre, even in high bandwidth connections, still matters because of network latency. High latency causes data transfers to time out and applications to break down, so one would always prefer to have the data stored in your own region.
Badly managed, a move to the cloud will cost a fortune and leave you wth nowhere to go. There is a natural entanglement that comes with a move to the cloud and cost control and management is YOUR responsibility and nobody else’s. Imagine a world where you leave every light on in your house every day, all day. Your electricity bill will be high. Is this your problem or that of the supply company (the cloud provider)? Many companies that move to the cloud do a poor job estimating the true cost of service. Everyone sees the pence per service unit but fails to multiply this out correctly over the length of a month or a year.
The same as any big IT project, the change management will determine the immediate success of failure of a move into the cloud. It doesn’t matter if you are doing something fairly straightforward like migrating to Office 365 or something a great deal more complex like an ERP move, forget change management and you can look forward to unhappiness all round.
ARCHITECTURE IS EVERYTHING
Issues can arise when the IT team wants to re-architect the entire infrastructure to perfectly fit offered cloud services (a wholesale move irrespective of fit), or when the team doesn’t want to make a single change (making the new world look just like the old world). Find a partner, find an architect, cost the project over three years at least and then question every single detail of the plan. Then project manage, project manage, project manage, as scope creep is inherent in cloud projects, more than ever is this the case in internally based projects.
CONNECTING LEGACY SYSTEMS WITH CLOUD APPLICATIONS
Most current systems, particularly systems of record (the backbone of an organisation’s operations) are not cloud-ready. The biggest challenge is to connect legacy systems with newer cloud-based business applications. For your short-term to mid-term plans, solutions that can operate in a hybrid environment are essential, along with services from vendors that can support a company’s migration to the cloud.
Before you take to the cloud, make the most of it by focusing on how you can enhance your current business functions. With technology on your side, there are no boundaries to what you can achieve. Whether you’re ready to take advantage of the simplicity and flexibility of the cloud or your business requirements favour an on-premise solution, we provide options tailored to your unique situation.