Should a Small Business Move to the Cloud?

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Recently I was having a conversation with a CFO on a topic that seems to be on the minds of many of our SMB clients. The CFO had taken a trip and read an article on a plane about how companies had moved their entire organizations into the cloud and saved millions of dollars in the process. I think many of my clients either fly the same airline or read the same magazines because the questions were very similar as was the size of the savings.

So being a good technologist and wanting to show my grasp of the subject matter I dived right into a detailed description of the classic process to evaluate cloud computing. I told him about concepts like rapid elasticity, measured service, on-demand self-service, ubiquitous network access and resource pooling. If that was not enough I then started to follow-up with considerations around security, privacy, interoperability and portability. The only thing that saved him from a full on Power Point presentation was that I did not have my iPad with me. Somewhere between SLO, SLA and NIST I noticed that he was giving me a very familiar look. It was the same look and smile that my wife and I give our 4 year old twins when they talk gibberish to us with all the authority in the world. It’s a look of “I have no idea what you are talking about but I am going to let you finish and then give you a big hug because I still love you…”.

It was then that I stopped, took a breath and asked him what exactly did he mean? His questions were simple. “We use MS Office, QuickBooks and Exchange. Can I move all of that to the cloud for my 30 employees?” You don’t see many articles about the 30 employee company and how moving to the cloud affects them. It just does not sound as cool as moving hundreds or thousands of users and saving millions of dollars. But there are many more of those companies then of the larger ones and these SMB companies make up the majority of our customer base.

The answer to the CFO’s question was “yes”. You can move all of that to the cloud but should you? Having the ability to get there does not mean that you will like the destination. It is clear that we are all moving to the cloud at different speeds. Some analysts have 50% of small businesses in the cloud by 2015, others have different numbers, but the direction is clear. The real question is how to get there in one piece. A startup marketing company that is Mac centric will take a very different path into the cloud then an established law or medical practice that has standardized on the Microsoft platform.

Our recommendation to clients is to treat this as any other newIT initiative.

1. Know and document your current assets and needs
2. Research and document the current options in the market
3. Perform your ROI analysis
4. Speak with companies that have gone through the transition
5. Document a strategic migration plan
6. Test your key business applications
7. Execute the plan and do so in small bites

In the articles to follow we will explore each of the above components in more detail and provide case studies as well as working templates that you can use to manage this process.

Robert Krupski, CEO
IT Help Central –

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