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How-to: Choose the right cloud model for you

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Did you know 65 per cent of Australian organisations experienced a major disruption due to a cyber breach last year?

It can be an ongoing challenge to maintain your business’s operations when cyber threats can bring technological failure, downtime and an unwanted dose of additional stress.

And while it depends which industry you’re working in, it’s true that more of our work processes rely on data and network connectivity on the cloud.

For many of us, it means that if our cloud is disrupted, our business is disrupted.

So choosing the right cloud model is important. But how do you decide which one is right for your business?

You need to consider your operations and the security of your data. What if your business's essential applications went down? The impact on productivity, financials and brand reputation would be damaging to any business ‑ add to this the potential loss of customers. 

Which cloud model is right for your business?

Public cloud  features services and infrastructure that are provided off-site, usually over the internet. It offers a great range of technology choices and provides a great level of efficiency. This model is more cost-effective for small businesses.

Private cloud offers a higher level of control, because all the services and infrastructure are maintained privately. However, it requires a business to purchase and maintain the software and infrastructure, which reduces the flexibility and can affect cost savings. A private cloud model is more suitable for medium-sized businesses.

Hybrid cloud allows organisations to benefit from the automation of a public cloud model while reaping the control and privacy benefits of a private cloud. It also lets a business run its custom or legacy applications in its existing data centre with the option of leveraging a number of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications in the public cloud.

If you run a small business or you're just starting out - or if you lead an organisation with standard service offerings that has relatively repetitive or straightforward workloads used by lots of people (for things like email, intranet applications, etc.) - then opting for a public cloud model, where you don't carry the infrastructure burden, could be a smart business decision.

Larger organisations often have a mix of custom in-house applications and standard applications. A hybrid cloud will mean you don’t need to forfeit past investments while taking advantage of cloud-driven applications. 

Taking it step by step
 

STEP 1: Audit what you have

Start with an audit of all your applications and associated data, and then choose what should be moved and in what order. Remember: applications that aren't as critical to operations make for ideal first candidates, but keep in mind these will only deliver incremental benefit. Get the balance right because moving too slowly on delivering benefits will not be favourable to your stakeholders. 

STEP 2: Define your existing set-up’s shortcomings and what they’re costing you

Uncover how your organisation’s existing set-up may be ill-prepared to survive a major outage if something goes wrong. If possible, quantify the cost of the resulting downtime and loss in data. How much would your business lose for every hour it wasn't working? What about the regulation and compliance implications? Include all variables applicable to your business.

STEP 3: Build a migration plan

Before you get into the nitty gritty of migration, you need to create a robust plan so that the project won’t disrupt the business. If you've chosen a hybrid cloud model, this is the time to outline what applications and data will be moved to the public cloud and what will stay on the private network.

STEP 4: Explore how the cloud could be the right path to take — from both strategic and cost perspectives

List the key business benefits of adopting a cloud strategy. These might include:

  • Operational efficiencies. You can set up a cloud service or feature quickly.
  • Scalable and flexible. Grows with your business as your IT demands evolve.
  • Resiliency. Cloud providers have mirrored back-up solutions that can be used in a disaster scenario, mitigating downtime.
  • Substantially reduced overheads. The cloud offers all these gains without the financial commitments or investment required for infrastructure purchase and maintenance. Outline the cost advantages of moving to the cloud by comparing how much your organisation is paying now for its existing set-up while also taking into account the risk costs calculated in the next step.

STEP 5: Be upfront about risks

Outline any potential risks of a cloud strategy. These will be different for every organisation, but one likely to be consistent across the board is the need for due diligence in choosing a particular provider. Reputation, history and sustainability should all be factors to consider. The dynamic nature of the cloud means that it’s important to know where exactly your data is going to reside. Business continuity plans must also be well documented and tested. And when implementing new technologies it’s important that current processes are reviewed and updated to match.

STEP 6: Plan for when things go wrong

Although rare, it’s worth remembering that things do go wrong and you can experience outages, so you need to design your business continuity architecture appropriately. Using two cloud models is like storing data in two physical locations. A business continuity strategy, that duplicates your applications in multiple regions and data centres will ensure you’re covered.

While a number of cloud service providers offer business continuity solutions, you still need to protect yourself against the risk of losing data, even in the cloud. It’s important you have back-up processes in place to protect you against unforeseen outages and human error, so you can avoid unnecessary downtime.

*Originally published November 25th 2016. Updated November 8th 2019.

Need an extra hand with your cloud network?

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