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Is your business cloud-optimized? 5 foundations of the journey

Posted by Samantha DeLaire

Dec 16, 2016

Many small and midsize businesses are deciding to make cloud services and infrastructure an intentional component of their strategy, rather than scrambling to react every time employees start using some new service. These cloud-ready businesses are taking control of cloud adoption by investing in the right tools and making the technical and operational changes necessary to adapt to a faster-paced world.

A strategic approach to the cloud means recognizing that it is here to stay, and being clear about what benefits you want to achieve for your business. Then, you can evaluate where changes need to be made to ensure you can use cloud services securely and productively while maintaining control over costs.

Five key areas you should consider when optimizing your business for the cloud:

Infrastructure: Look at the IT hardware and networking infrastructure you currently have on-premises, and consider what you will need to fulfill your growth plans and optimize for the cloud. Look for ways you can consume infrastructure from the cloud instead of managing it yourself, as many robust options are available that are more secure and higher-performance than most small or midsize businesses can obtain on their own. These aspects of IT are generally well-defined and are not where you want to focus your efforts on adding value. At the same time, don’t abandon what you have. Rather, look for ways that your existing infrastructure can easily connect to the online services you with to use.

Data: Using online services naturally means data moves across multiple locations. The more cloud services you use, the more likely it is that you will keep significant amounts of data online. In order to cloud-optimize your business, look for data storage options that can interoperate with all the tools you plan to use, including analytics, business applications, and business processes. Being able to seamlessly move data to the cloud depending on application and performance needs can enable you to preserve more of your data in an accessible state.

Management: With the cloud, you can spin up multiple virtual servers for a variety of purposes, typically at far lower cost than purchasing the required hardware yourself. That means you need more than virtualization—you need visibility across all the services you support and consume. This is doubly true if you’re using a mix of on-premises hardware, cloud-based virtual machines, and public cloud services, as many businesses will for the foreseeable future. Visibility is also necessary to manage costs, as consuming cloud services typically uses an operational expense model rather than a capital expense model. This may require new management tools if your environment is on the more complex side.

Security: Securing data across multiple services is a different task than securing it behind a traditional firewall. You need server technology built to protect data wherever it goes, whether it’s on a local server, a mobile device, or an online file share. Strong encryption and multi-factor authentication should be available as an option in the technology you choose.

Applications: Look at all the applications your company uses and make strategic decisions about which ones will provide the best value when you set up your business in the cloud. Other apps might require modification to move to the cloud, but if the business value is there, it could well be worth the trouble.

One key to creating a cloud-ready business is choosing the right server technology to power your applications and services. Windows Server is designed for a cloud-first, mobile-first world and powers business workloads around the world. It helps you give employees access to information across diverse infrastructure, networks, devices, and applications, while offering high levels of security and reliability. And, interoperability between Windows Server and Microsoft Azure can smooth the path to cloud migration.