Questioning the Cloud? Maybe “Hybrid” Is the Answer.

Clouds on the blackboard
  • April 19, 2017
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Earlier this year, Amazon Web Services (AWS), a public cloud service used by literally hundreds of websites and Internet of Things (IoT) services, suffered a major outage that lasted nearly an entire day. Making matters worse, the Amazon status page, which reports on the real-time performance of AWS, also went down. So, not only were AWS customers of all shapes and sizes unable to conduct business as usual, they also were unable to see system status or updates on Amazon’s progress resolving the issue.

“If you put all of your eggs in one basket and only run your systems in one public cloud, an outage like this will cripple your business, at least for the time of the outage,” MJ Shoer, Chief Technology Officer of Internet & Telephone, LLC, wrote in a commentary for the news site “The impact to your brand and success of your product and/or service could be immeasurable.”

We agree with Shoer, especially when small to mid-size businesses (SMBs) are involved. Despite today’s seeming rush to move all computing to the cloud, implementing a migration strategy should not be an all-or-nothing proposition. Yes, the scalability and cost-reduction opportunities cloud computing represents are compelling. Per a Cisco-sponsored study by IDC late last year, large multinational companies with “advanced cloud strategies” reported, on average, $3million in additional revenues and $1 million in cost savings.

But keep in mind the researchers’ use of the word “advanced.” The same IDC study found organizations moving to the cloud faced a “variety of obstacles,” such as gaps in technical skills, lack of well-defined strategy and misalignments between technologies and business operations.

Clearly, determining the best way to integrate cloud services into your business is more complicated than an either/or proposition. We believe the proper thinking should be a both/and approach, with on-premises computing considered in your mix of solutions.

Indeed, when surveying technology executives for the same research cited earlier in this post, IDC analysts discovered that “73% of all the respondents have a hybrid cloud strategy,” which means they use a mix of on-premises, private cloud and public cloud services.

So, if you’re one of hundreds of SMBs pondering a hybrid cloud strategy, we have three pieces of advice gleaned from a recent InfoWorld post:

  • Go Slow, Advance in Phases – Start your cloud migration with apps and data that aren’t mission-critical. Load sensitive information – e.g., any data related to generating revenue – only after the reliability and security of your cloud hosts have been evaluated and assured by contract. And always, maintain a mindset guided by risk management principles.
  • Assess Providers’ for Best Fit – Not all cloud vendors, of course, focus on the same services, markets or industries. Some competing in the ecommerce space, for example, may tout features such as speed of access. Others, such as those serving financial services firms, may emphasize privacy over other considerations. Which providers work for you, and how much of your systems to share with them, will depend on your own business needs, but having a sense of your industry’s standards will help you avoid missteps.
  • Engage Your MSP for Counsel – See our post “4 Ways MSPs Help SMBs with Cloud Computing” for details.

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