IT Technology

6 Tips for Moving to the Cloud for Small Businesses

Written by Kayla Matthews

If you’re thinking about transitioning your small business to the cloud instead of storing it on local servers, be sure to assess how that decision fits into your enterprise’s broader plans. 

Here are six suggestions to help you as you make the transition.

1. Choose the Most Appropriate Cloud Model

Many people speak about moving to the cloud in a black and white way, as if there is only one way to do it.. But that’s far from accurate. Before making serious decisions about cloud computing for your business, spend time learning about the different types of cloud services available and the pros and cons of each.

The most common types of cloud services are infrastructure as a service, platform as a service and software as a service (SaaS).

Small businesses that want to ease into cloud computing often get started with a SaaS model. That’s because the vendor takes care of all the management needs, and you can usually subscribe to SaaS cloud services through a pay-as-you-go subscription.

When deciding which option works best for your business, always think about long-term needs, as well as your immediate ones.

2. Make a List of Your Must-Haves

Before shopping around for cloud providers, it’s smart to create a list of all the services or features you don’t want to go without. If you don’t have a firm idea of those things, it’s easy to end up signing up for something that’s not the perfect solution for your small business.

Remember some of the features you want may closely relate to your business. For example, if you run an e-commerce business, guaranteed uptime may be a high priority. Or, if some of your files contain sensitive information, you may want the provider to be especially security-conscious.

3. Be Purposeful With Your Budget

Some small businesses decide to allocate a portion of their budget to the cloud without thinking about the specific, cloud-related ways they’ll spend the money. A 2018 report of approximately 1,000 IT professionals found they typically underestimated how much of their cloud budgets went to waste by about 5%. The poll also found the average cloud spending for a small to medium-sized business was $120,000 per year.

One of the advantages of cloud storage versus on-premises software is that it requires a smaller upfront investment. That’s usually because you don’t need to pay for hardware or hire a tech support team. Aim to connect your cloud budget to well-defined business goals. It will make it easier to justify your spending levels. Alternatively, you may realise you’re spending too much, and it’s time to scale back.

4. Consider How Cloud Computing Provides Flexibility

If your company operates in multiple markets, has remote teams or deals with any other situations that may make collaboration difficult, cloud computing may assist your business in overcoming those challenges. Data from Statista that compared how small and medium enterprises used SaaS cloud computing in 2015 and 2018 found file-sharing was the top use in both those years.

One of the most convenient things about cloud computing is that it can give authorized parties access to a central place where they can access any files they need with just a few clicks. Similarly, if the majority of your team members are often out of office, for instance in client meetings or on off-site jobs, the accessibility cloud computing provides makes it easier for them to securely retrieve files as needed. So cloud computing can boost your business’ productivity.

5. Don’t Move to the Cloud Without a Plan

Small businesses frequently conclude that cloud computing offers them many perks without requiring the investment on-premises setups usually require. If your sole reason for a cloud transition is “because everyone else is doing it”, that’s an extremely risky mindset.

Even though cloud-based computing can give you a competitive edge, you could easily find yourself in a costly and haphazard situation by deciding to push ahead with your move and simply figure the details out later or as you go along. Create the plan first, then look for companies or services that meet your needs as closely as possible whilst still remaining cost-efficient.

Taking the time to document your plans could also help convince superiors who are still hesitant about transitioning to the cloud. When you show dedication by thinking ahead, you are demonstrating your commitment to making cloud computing succeed for your company.

6. Move your Workload onto the Cloud

Something small business representatives often forget about cloud migrations is that they don’t have to — and shouldn’t — happen all at once. Always do a cost-benefit analysis before moving to the cloud. Remember, as well, that some workloads will never work optimally in the cloud environment. Additionally, some workloads are a better match for specific cloud service models over others.

In those cases, follow your experience and your best judgment when choosing whether to move them online or keep them on  premises. A slow and steady approach will allow you to spot potential mistakes and prevent them from happening.

Information Leads to More Confident Decision-Making

Armed with information, you should now feel confident to  develop a strategy to decide whether cloud computing is the right option for your business. Keep these suggestions in mind, and research more about the matters that relate to your business, and you will feel very prepared. You’ll be in an excellent position to make decisions that support your enterprise’s goals and ability to prosper.

“The opinions expressed by BizWitty Contributors are their own, not those of BizCover and should not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice. Please read our full disclaimer."

About the author

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a business technology journalist and writer whose work has been featured on InformationWeek, Robotics Business Review, and Marketing Dive. To read more from Kayla, please visit her blog, Productivity Bytes