A Cloudy Future

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Every organisation I know is considering the how, what and when of migrating some or all of their IT services to the cloud.

Those in favour cite the reduced cost, the flexibility of cloud solutions and the lack of maintenance overhead.

Those who think it’s a bad idea worry about the security risks and the hidden costs.

However, the overwhelming trend is for IT services to move to the cloud, and organisations who are not, at the very least, evaluating the options could probably be accused of having their heads in the sand.

Migrating services to the cloud or acquiring new cloud services is a big decision. There are some real risks out there.

Despite the warnings, cloud based services make sense for most organisations. These services come in all different shapes and sizes and the range of options can be confusing. You can choose to put only your infrastructure in the cloud, or you can opt to run services such as email, office applications or a customer relationship management system in the cloud. On the whole, the more generic and straightforward your needs, the more you stand to benefit from cloud services.

The most basic advice for any organisation who is considering entrusting some or all of their IT service to the cloud is to know what you are buying and assume nothing. Don’t assume that services such as data backup or searching for ‘lost’ files are included unless you have seen them in black and white in the contract. Cloud providers are competing on many fronts including cost and there are undoubtedly some who will be looking to cut corners.

Not for profits who are looking for answers to their IT issues should remember the golden rule: “Buyer beware”

Just some of the things you will need to think about:

  • The Service Contract. This list is only a starter set but it should include commitments on support hours, issue resolution and turnaround times, amount of storage you are entitled to, speed of transactions, backups, business continuity arrangements …….
  • What flexibility you have to increase or decrease your service requirements.
  • What recourse you have if something goes wrong.
  • Whether there is a customer complaints process.
  • Where your services are run from and where your data is physically stored.
  • Integration needs with services and functions which you need to keep in-house.
  • Whether your data connectivity is reliable enough and fast enough to work effectively in a cloud environment.
  • Last but not least, whether your potential cloud service provider will give any information on the costs of migrating your services to another cloud provider or back to you.

It goes without saying (almost) that you need to understand all the costs. Also remember that these costs are dropping all the time so beware of lock-ins.

For a discussion on cloud strategy and options for not-for-profits with limited resources and budgets please contact me here.

Author:  This post is by Claire Brereton FACS GAICD. Claire is a Cause and Effective Associate and the Principal of Brereton Consulting . She provides expert sound advice to cause-based and for profit organisations on IT Strategy, Governance, Service Management and Planning.

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B-Cause is published by Cause and Effective. Our goal is to inspire, inform and encourage people doing good to do even better.

Thats our take on things. Over to you, please add to the discussion.

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