SMB business leaders or professionals who deliver SMB IT solutions have the option to move to an off-premise cloud. It’s a move that requires more considerations than cost savings, scale, security and flexibility. Here are three questions to ask yourself as you decide whether an off-premise cloud is the right choice for your business.
Can I reduce my busyness so I can increase my productivity?
Step back from your daily routine and understand what ”just being busy” and what ”being productive” look like in your world. For IT professionals, the most common way of staying busy is the install-break-fix spiral (unless, of course, you are in the business of installing, breaking and fixing). If you deliver IT solutions, do you have to manage everything from the metal and up? If you build web applications, do you have to manage the entire ship – servers, security, storage, networking and all that? Think of businesses and successful individuals around you that are thriving and winning; you will see in them the ability to simplify the complexity so they can focus on growth.
If I move to a cloud service provider, will I be stuck there? How will the experience differ for my operations or users?
Yes, there is a potential for cloud lock-in. Lock-in makes you dependent on the provider’s services.
A way to get a handle on lock-in is to first understand the changes the cloud service provider requires you to make across technology layers. From storage and networking, to operating system and data model, to applications and web services tools; will those changes mean more work and costs for you if you decide to move to another cloud or move back on-premise later? Is the user/operations experience different from what you have today? Does it require retraining? Are the benefits outweighing costs?
Will the cloud enhance my portfolio? Will it allow me to radically improve business processes?
A byproduct of cloud for SMBs is the ability to get enterprise grade infrastructure and delivery capabilities built-in or as an add-on at a fraction of the cost. Is there anything else you can do in your business or for your customers with those capabilities? Some capabilities include better security, scale, uptime, resilience, disaster recovery and ubiquitous access, along with best practices.
As an IT solution provider, can you sell value added services such as disaster recovery, auto scaling and collaboration? Let’s say you manage an on-premise order taking application for a regional tractor parts distributor: once you move that application to the cloud, is it easier to sign up for hosted SharePoint with a cloud service provider and upsell that to the customer without investing in additional infrastructure and adding another burden of maintaining that yourself? The tractor distributor can now not only give access to the application through secure remote access but can also have a self-service collaboration platform on the cloud.
As an SMB IT manager, the cloud enables you to rethink your business. Do you have a Disaster Recovery plan in place? When you embrace cloud, you can put a Business Continuity plan in place instead by building a virtual stand-by data center. So when a disaster strikes it is beyond “fail and recover.“ Your business just continues to operate.
At Microsoft, we have thought through these questions and several more in order to ensure our partners and customers can choose to build private, on-premise clouds and off-premise clouds with confidence. Deep partnership between Microsoft and Rackspace has resulted in a Windows Server cloud services platform that delivers the best experience, backed by Rackspace’s Fanatical Support. So go ahead and do your due diligence and decide what is best for you and your business. These are exciting times.