3 Critical Facts Every Business Owner Must Know Before Moving Their Network To The Cloud

Discover What Most IT Consultants Don’t Know Or Won’t Tell You About

Moving Your Company’s Network To The Cloud

By Chuck Bell, President/CEO, BEL Network Integration & Support

demystify-the-cloud

Cloud Computing and What’s Best For Your Business

If you are like many business owners and leaders, you are met with conflicting advice, confusion, and no real answers to your questions and concerns over security, cost and whether or not cloud computing is right for your organization.

That’s why we’re providing this information – with the opportunity to receive a full report on 3 Critical Facts You Must Know Before Moving to The Cloud. We wanted to give CEO’s a simple, straightforward guide that answers your questions in plain English, and provides vital experience-based information that most IT companies don’t know (or may not tell you). Without this valuable information, your migration to the cloud could turn into a big, cash-draining nightmare!

Simply put – cloud computing is NOT a good fit for every company. If you don’t get all the facts or fully understand the pros and cons, you can end up making some VERY poor and expensive decisions that you’ll deeply regret later. The information here will arm you with the critical facts you need to avoid expensive, time-consuming mistakes.

Of course, we are always available as a resource for a second opinion or quick question, so please feel free to contact my office at 804-796-2631, Option 2 for Support, if we can clarify any points made in this report or answer any questions you have.

3 Critical Facts You Must Know Before Moving To The Cloud

There are 3 very important facts you need to know before you consider cloud computing for your company.

  1. The pros AND cons you need to consider before moving to the cloud.

  2. Migration GOTCHAS (and how to avoid them).

  3. The various types of cloud computing options you have (there are more than just one).

This report includes an invitation to request a Free Cloud Readiness Assessment to determine if cloud computing is right for your business. Before making any decisions, I encourage you to take advantage of this offer. We designed the offer with you in mind. You can take a hard look at the functionality and costs of cloud computing for your business. We provide you with specific information (not hype) to make a good decision about this new technology.

What Is Cloud Computing?

Wikipedia defines cloud computing as “the use and access of multiple server-based computational resources via a digital network (WAN, Internet connection using the World Wide Web, etc.).”

In fact, you are probably already experiencing the benefits of cloud computing in some way but hadn’t realized it. Below are a number of cloud computing applications, also called SaaS or “software as a service,” you might be using:

  • Gmail, Hotmail or other free e-mail accounts
  • Facebook
  • NetSuite, Salesforce
  • Constant Contact, Exact Target, AWeber or other e-mail broadcasting services
  • Zoomerang, SurveyMonkey and other survey tools
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • All things Google (search, AdWords, maps, etc.)

If you think about it, almost every single application you use today can be (or already is) being put “in the cloud” where you can access it and pay for it via your browser for a monthly fee or utility pricing. You don’t purchase and install software but instead access it via an Internet browser.

What About Office 365 And Google Apps?

Office 365 and Google Apps are perfect examples of the cloud computing trend. For an inexpensive monthly fee, you can get full access and use of Office applications that used to cost a few hundred dollars to purchase. Since these apps are being powered by the cloud provider, you don’t need an expensive desktop with lots of power to use them. A simple Internet connection will do on a laptop, desktop or tablet.

Pros And Cons Of Moving To The Cloud

As you read this section, keep in mind there is no “perfect” solution. All options – an in-house-on-premise-server or a cloud solution – have upsides and downsides that need to be evaluated on a case-by-case scenario. (Warning: Do NOT let a cloud expert tell you there is only “one way” of doing something!)

Keep in mind the best option for you may be a hybrid solution. With hybrid solutions, some applications and functionality are in the cloud and some are hosted and maintained from an in-house server. We’ll discuss more of this in a later section. However, here are the general pros and cons of cloud computing:

Pros Of Cloud Computing

  • Lowered IT costs.

This is probably the single most compelling reason why companies choose to move their network (all or in part) to the cloud. Not only do you save money on software licenses, but on hardware (servers and workstations) as well as on IT support and upgrades. So if you hate constantly writing cash-flow-draining checks for IT upgrades, you’ll really want to look into cloud computing.

  • Ability to access your desktop and/or applications from anywhere and any device.

If you travel a lot, have remote workers, prefer to use an iPad while traveling and a laptop at your house; cloud computing will give you the ability to work from any of these devices.

  • Disaster recovery and backup are automated.

The server in your office is extremely vulnerable to a number of threats. These threats include viruses, human error, hardware failure, software corruption, and physical damage due to fire, flood or natural disaster. If your server were in the cloud and (God forbid) your office was reduced to a pile of rubble, you could purchase a new laptop and be back up and running within the same day. This would NOT be the case if you had a traditional network and were using tape drives, CDs, USB drives or other physical storage devices to back up your system.

Plus, like a public utility, cloud platforms are far more robust and secure than your average business network. They can utilize economies of scale to invest heavily into security, redundancy and failover systems, making them far less likely to go down.

  • It’s faster, cheaper and easier to set up new employees.

If you have a seasonal workforce or a lot of turnover, cloud computing not only lowers your cost to set-up new accounts, it also makes it infinitely faster.

  • You use it without having to “own” it.

More specifically, you don’t own the responsibility of having to install, update and maintain the infrastructure. It’s similar to living in a condo where someone else takes care of the building maintenance, repairing the roof and mowing the lawn. Yet, you still have the only key to your section of the building and use of all the facilities. This is particularly attractive for companies that are new or expanding, but don’t want the heavy outlay of cash for purchasing and supporting an expensive computer network.

  • It’s a “greener” technology that will save on power and your electric bill.

For some smaller companies, the power savings will be too small to measure. However, for larger companies with multiple servers that run 24/7/365 and have to be kept cool in a hot server rooms, the savings are considerable.

Cons Of Cloud Computing

  • The Internet going down.

While you can mitigate this risk by using a commercial-grade Internet connection and maintaining a second backup connection, there is a chance you’ll lose Internet connectivity, making it impossible to work.

  • Data security.

Many people don’t feel comfortable having their data in some off-site location. This is a valid concern, and before you choose any cloud provider, you need to find out more information about where they are storing your data, how it’s encrypted, who has access and how you can get it back

  • Certain line-of-business applications won’t work in the cloud.

The creators and developers of third party software for your business or industry may not have released updated versions for cloud integration.

  • Compliance Issues.

There are a number of laws and regulations, such as Gramm-Leach-Bliley, Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA, that require companies to control and protect their data. These laws also require businesses to certify they have knowledge and control over

1. who can access the data,

2. who sees the data,  and

3. how and where the data is stored.

In a public cloud environment, this can be a problem. Many cloud providers won’t tell you specifically where your data is stored.

Most cloud providers have SAS 70 certifications, which require them to describe exactly what is happening in their environment. This includes information on how and where the data comes in, what the provider does with it, and what controls are in place over data access and processing. However, as the business owner, it’s YOUR neck on the line if the data is compromised! So, it’s important that you ask for some type of validation that they are meeting all compliance regulations on an ongoing basis.

Migration Gotchas! What You Need To Know About Transitioning

To A Cloud-Based Network

When done right, a migration to Office 365 or another cloud solution is like any other migration. Planning needs to be done, prerequisites determined, and the inevitable “quirks” ironed out once you make the move.

Every company has its own unique environment. So, it’s practically impossible to try and plan for every potential pitfall. However, here are some BIG things you want to ask your IT consultant BEFORE making the leap.

  • Downtime.

Some organizations cannot afford ANY downtime, while others can do without their network for a day or two. Make sure you communicate YOUR specific needs regarding downtime and make sure your IT provider has a solid plan to prevent extended downtime.

  • Painfully Slow Performance.

Ask your IT consultant to run your network in a test environment before making the full migration. Imagine how frustrated you would be to migrate your network and discover everything is running too slowly for you to work! Again, every environment is slightly different, so it’s best to test before you transition.

  • 3rd-Party Applications.

If your organization has plug-ins to Exchange for faxing, voice mail or integration into another application, make sure you test to see if it will still work in the new environment.

Different Types Of Cloud Solutions Explained

  • Pure Cloud

This is where all your applications and data are put on the other side of the firewall (in the cloud) and accessed through various devices (laptops, desktops, iPads, phones) via the Internet.

  • Hybrid Cloud

Although “pure” cloud computing has valid applications, for many it’s downright scary. In some cases it is NOT the smartest move, due to compliance issues, security restrictions, speed and performance. A hybrid cloud enables you to put certain pieces of existing IT infrastructure (say, storage and e-mail) in the cloud. The remainder of the IT infrastructure stays on-premises. This gives you the ability to enjoy the cost savings and benefits of cloud computing where it makes the most sense without risking your entire environment.

  • Single Point Solutions

Another option would be to put certain applications, like SharePoint or Microsoft Exchange, in the cloud and keep everything else on-site. Since e-mail is a critical application that everyone needs and wants access to on the road and on various devices (iPad, smartphone, etc.), often this is a great way to get advanced features of Microsoft Exchange without the cost of installing and supporting your own in-house Exchange server.

  • Public Cloud Vs. Private Cloud

A public cloud is a service that anyone can tap into with a network connection and a credit card. They are shared infrastructures that allow you to pay-as-you-go and are managed through a self-service web portal. Private clouds are essentially self-built infrastructures that mimic public cloud services, but are on-premises. Private clouds are often the choice of companies who want the benefits of cloud computing, but don’t want their data held in a public environment.

Free Assessment Shows You How To Migrate To The Cloud And Avoid Overpaying For Your Next IT Project Or Upgrade

If you’re like a number of CEOs we’ve helped, you’ve already been burned, disappointed and frustrated by the questionable advice and complete lack of service from other IT companies. In fact, you might be so fed up and disgusted from being “sold” that you don’t trust anyone. I don’t blame you.

That’s why I’d like to offer you a FREE Cloud Readiness Assessment to show you there IS a better way to upgrade your computer network AND to demonstrate how a truly competent IT consultant (not just a computer “mechanic”) can guide your company to greater profits and efficiency, help you be more strategic, and give you the tools and systems to fuel growth.

At no cost or obligation

One of my lead consultants and I will come to your office and conduct a thorough review and inventory of your current computer network, backups and technologies to give you straightforward answers to the following:

  • How using cloud technologies may be able to eliminate the cost, complexity and problems while giving you more freedom, lowered costs, tighter security and instant disaster recovery.

I say “may” because it might NOT be the best choice for you. I’ll give you honest answers to your questions and detail – in plain English – the pros AND cons of moving your specific operations to the cloud.

  • Are your IT systems truly safe and secured from hackers, viruses and rogue employees?

FACT: 99% of the computer networks we review are NOT, much to the surprise of the CEOs who are paying some other “so-called” expert to manage that aspect of their IT.

  • Are your backups configured properly to ensure that you could be back up and running again fast in a disaster?

From our experience, most companies’ backups are an epic waste of money and only deliver a false sense of security.

  • If you are ALREADY using “cloud” technologies, are you adequately protecting your organization?

There are dozens of ways you and your organization can be harmed, sued or financially devastated due to security leaks, theft, data loss, hacks and violating ever-expanding data privacy laws.

Even if you do not incorporate cloud computing into your network or become our client, you’ll find the information we share to be extremely valuable and eye-opening for your current and future IT decisions. After all, it NEVER hurts to get a third-party “checkup” of your IT systems’ security, backups and stability, as well as a competitive cost analysis.

There Is One Small “Catch”

Because our Cloud Readiness Assessment takes between five and seven hours to complete (with most of this “behind-the-scenes” diagnostics and research we conduct), I can only extend this offer to the first 5 people who respond. After that, we’ll have to withdraw this offer or ask that you pay our customary consulting fee of $350 for this Assessment (sorry, no exceptions).

To respond, please call our office at 804-796-2631 and ask for me, Chuck Bell. I personally want to take your call to answer any questions about this letter, my company and how we might be able to help you, CEO to CEO. You can also e-mail me direct at [email protected].

Awaiting your response,

Robert E. “Chuck” Bell, III

www.belnis.com

Call us direct: 804-796-2631

Request a FREE VoIP Assessment