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Moving to the Cloud? Tips for a Soft Landing

Companies are no longer afraid of the cloud. Big talk about security and performance issues has dwindled to small voices as enterprises and SMBs alike adopt cloud services to empower their global impact. Big cloud benefits, however—agility, scalability and on-demand access—are the result of a thoughtful, well-planned move from on-site servers to off-site resources. Here are four key tips for a soft cloud landing:

Look Inward

Before you go anywhere, stop and take a hard look at existing network infrastructure. While cloud services come with the promise of virtually no downtime and the ability to access what you want, when you want, companies often find themselves frustrated by network lag and poor compute performance. It’s easy to point the finger at cloud providers for not living up to their end of the bargain, but in many cases, companies are stumbling blocks—if your network can’t handle the needed bandwidth of cloud services or relies on 10 year-old endpoints, even the best cloud offering won’t match expectations.

Take the time to evaluate current network performance and then upgrade your ISP, network infrastructure and devices, as necessary, before starting the process of cloud migration, and save yourself the aggravation.

Set Your Strategy

Why are you moving to the cloud? How are you preparing your tech infrastructure and employees for the move? Taking the time to create a clear cloud strategy before you start looking for providers is one of the best ways to make sure you don’t overspend on services or wind up with unused resources.

First step: Define the purpose. Are you moving to the cloud for better access to analytics? As a way to store mission-critical files or automate key processes? By understanding the goal, you can better evaluate prospective providers. As noted by ComputerWorld, meanwhile, it’s also important to consider the culture change that comes with the cloud. IT professionals are often “married” to existing infrastructure, while front-line employees familiar with personal cloud services require re-training to ensure safe use of corporate clouds. Developing an end-goal and environment-based strategy is key to smooth cloud moves.

Don’t Shortchange Security

While security in the cloud has improved substantially over the last few years, nothing is perfect; take the time to consider what type of security controls best serve your business and your bottom line. According to Forbes, it’s a good idea to start with security models like those drafted by NIST, in addition to making key decisions about how your data will be protected and which data requires the highest level of cloud-based and local protection.

More important than what you choose to secure is how you handle security. Develop a policy to cover use guidelines, expectations and potential consequences. Then, make sure the policy applies to everyone in the organization.

Consider the Contract

Once the hunt for a provider begins, take time to consider multiple offerings. More importantly, make sure to carefully review all cloud contracts before committing to any service. As noted by ZDNet, the increasing length of contract terms coupled with the fact that companies don’t own the cloud resources they use make this a provider’s market—by playing fast and loose with the terms of an SLA, it’s possible for providers to essentially own corporate data or make it very expensive if you ever want to switch clouds. Best bet? Hire a technology lawyer and go through your contract step by step. Set clear limitations on data ownership and precisely define the responsibility of both provider and client in the event of downtime or a data breach. A little legwork before moving means far less trouble if you ever need to leave.

Headed for the cloud? Land softly by looking inward and creating a strategy, focusing on security and considering your contract before you’re off the ground.

By John Grady, Senior Manager of Product Marketing

XO Communications is a nationwide provider of managed network and IT infrastructure services. At XO, John has been responsible for launching numerous products such including XO’s 100G Service and several XO Cloud Services.

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