The SMB Cloud Checklist
by N Scheidegger
29-Apr-2016

"Should I go into the Cloud?"

This is probably the most common question we get asked by our customers, and the unsatisfying answer is "It depends" - on your business, your industry, and above all on the applications you use every day.

To help you get to the bottom of it, we have put together a list of considerations aimed specifically at our Insurance Broking clients:

  • Cloud is not a black or white decision, but a spectrum: throwing everything up in the Cloud at once is often not the best solution. Cloud needs to be thought of as an application by application decision. Transition periods can last several years, as some applications take a while to go Cloud.

     

  • Internet bandwidth is your first obstacle: before moving even a single step down the path of Cloud, check your internet connection. Even basic cloud applications like Office365 will struggle with a poor connection (i.e. less than 10Mbps fibre or Ethernet). Check your upload / download limits as well, as it may be fast to download but not to upload. The best connections are unlimited data volume to avoid unexpected data costs.
  • Don't underestimate the performance issue: come to terms with the fact that the performance of a cloud solution will rarely beat an on premise one. However with the onset of the NBN, and improved technology for remote desktops, the gap is closing. How much performance will affect you will depend on your usage: data heavy, image rich applications will run into more problems (i.e. Adobe files including PDFs, Google Earth, large images, videos, etc.)
  • The business case for Cloud is only getting better with time: if you're not in the Cloud, don't sweat - it's getting cheaper every day. Many of the key enablers of Cloud for small business have not been around long: Office 365 has only been hosted in Australia since 2015, while Amazon and Microsoft Cloud offerings have only been live in Australia since 2012 and 2015 respectively. If the NBN is in your area, now is the time to take a good look at Cloud.
  • Plan ahead to phase out your hardware: server hardware should last anywhere between 3 to 4 years, so make sure you plan ahead and get the most return on your investment for existing hardware, without putting your business at risk by running old servers for too long. Servers can only really be removed when all applications, including your file server, have been migrated.
  • Legacy applications may be a sticking point: many Brokers use applications that require an on premise solution and / or SQL server. In these cases, you may need to talk to your third party providers about whether or not a Cloud solution is in the pipeline. If not, it may be worthwhile looking at alternatives - as hosting these in a private cloud can get expensive.
  • Security and Compliance is just as important in the Cloud as it is on-premise. You should have adequate security protecting the devices on your local network and your Cloud providers should have adequate security protecting their infrastructure and your data. In addition, the Cloud provider should deliver a level of service availability and data retention that meets your compliance requirements. Finally, if data sovereignty is a compliance requirement, ensure your Cloud provider does not store any of your data off-shore.

 

Still not sure? Talk to us today about building a business case for Cloud.

 

 

 

 

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