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10 cloud strategies that reduce costs and increase efficiencies

Ben Obear
September 22, 2015

The cloud is an innovative new way that businesses and people alike have begun to share, protect and store data and files. The cloud operates by using online, also known as "cloud-based" management tools and applications. Initially, cloud applications were developed simply with the idea of being able to share and store massive files that would take a while to download and upload and also take up a lot of space. However, cloud applications are being regularly developed and upgraded to continue to help corporations and small businesses alike take their business to new levels and remain competitive. This includes improvement of efficiency, security and information protection, document authoring online, file distribution and remote accessibility.

Using cloud strategies and applications can increase productivity and efficiency within your organization, while decreasing costs on several different levels. An example of cost reduction can start from simply no longer having to upload or purchase new software applications as they improve, which can often be annually. In addition, using cloud based services can also decrease the costs that are utilized in reliance on IT teams, or contracted IT employees to run, secure and monitor online business technology. Immediate updates via these cloud applications will ensure that your software is up to date- always- and that technology and security demands are met, based on the agreed upon guidelines between your corporation and your cloud service provider.

1. Practice Due Diligence- Identify your Company Needs and Begin your Research

While the cloud is still a fairly new concept, just being highly utilized within the last few years, there has been a steady rise in the cloud service providers. Thus, the competition is high and it can be difficult to determine what provider will be the best fit for your needs. The first step before you start your cloud services is to do some research on your prospective provider. Are they secure? Are they registered with the BBB? How long have they been in business? What are the full range of services that they can provide?  How do their services go hand in hand with your objectives, short and long-term goals?

2. Vetting Your Cloud Service Vendor

It's a must to ensure that the cloud service provider that you choose will be able to meet your compliance and regulatory needs. Any internet technology, legal information and business stakeholders should have a full understanding and expectation for the cloud service as well and the vendor should be able to tend to any questions or concerns that you have.

3. Internet and Information Security

An essential part of providing cloud services is data security. Ensure that your provider does not just monitor and report perceived threats back to you, but find out what their practices are on reporting back to you, being proactive in preventing security breeches and what their handling procedures are if there is a threat to your information.

4. Don't Allow Low Costs to be your Only Consideration for a Cloud Platform

While finding a cloud service provider that works within the realms of your budget, or even can deliver under budget is a great consideration, that should not be the driving factor in choosing your vendor. Remember that this platform is providing services that typically affects all aspects of your business. Therefore, you want to find a vendor that has experience, longevity in their field and accountability.  

5. Regulatory Compliance and Legality

Before proceeding, you need to review your legal information in regards to documentation. data and compliance that is pertinent. Understand the obligations in regards to privacy and confidentiality as well as information sharing. You must assure that your cloud platform provider can manage the depth of information that you will be routing through them and that they can assist and guide you with a solid plan for success.

6. Growth, Longevity and Business Continuity

Confidence and faith in your cloud provider is a must, because they are providing a service that can potentially affect every area of your company- successfully, or not. Thus, take the time to find out what their backup and recovery procedures detail, as well as measures to minimize any downtime that may occur. You also want to look for a company that will be able to grow and offer further support and innovative strategies as your company continues to develop and grow as well. Flexibility is important.

7. Understand what Role IT will play in Cloud Computing Strategies

It is essential to determine up front what role IT will play in the cloud strategies to take the guesswork out of potential future issues, prevent confusion within your team in understanding their roles and prevention of crossover of work between your IT team and the cloud platform. The last thing you want to do is overdo- clearly work out a plan that determines who plays what role and how responsibility is aligned.

8. Assure that your Cloud Platform is Aligned with Business Goals

Whether a small start-up firm, or a major organization, the cloud provider of choice must be able to meet the specific goals of your business. This includes cost improvement and efficiency, adaptability and agility to stay aligned with your business strategies, quality and reliability, to name a few.

9. Metrics that Show how your Cloud Platform has Delivered

Now that you’ve determined what you need and have decided on the platform to deliver it, you want to make sure that you are receiving data that shows how they have been able to provide those deliverables. You’ll also be able to use these metrics as a guide to explore what strategies may not be working and will need to be tweaked.

10. Working with your Team on Comprising the Best Cloud Strategies

Identify your business objectives within your team, from each division and use that information to determine how each goal can be improved by using a cloud platform. This should include short, medium and long-term objectives, from mid-level to executive level management. Each division representative should have a clear understanding of the goals and how the cloud platform will be able to deliver, as well as understanding security and access level protocols and what their roles and responsibilities, if any, will be. Everyone should be on board and clear as your organization prepares to move forward to a successful cloud-based strategy.

Using the aforementioned tips will help to build a strong and successful cloud-based strategy with clear and concise guidelines, roles to be played (within your organization as well as the cloud vendor) and expectations of deliverables from the cloud platform itself.

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Ben Obear
San Francisco