For small and midsize businesses (SMBs) even small fluctuations in the economy can have a big impact on the demand for their products and services. Many find themselves needing to scale up and down quickly in response to changes in the market.
The flexibility of cloud computing offers an obvious benefit for these types of companies. In addition, the cloud can help smaller firms compete with larger enterprises by giving them access to technology that they might not be able to afford if they had to purchase it upfront.
So says Sonia Cuff, co-founder of The Missing Chair, a managed services provider in Brisbane, Australia. In a recent interview, she offered five tips for SMBs that are migrating to the cloud.
1. Take your time when selecting a vendor
Small business owners and managers are often very busy, and they don’t want to waste a lot of time on the vendor selection process. As a result, they often cut this important part of the process short, Cuff said.
She said SMBs that are the most successful with their cloud transitions are often those who get to know their vendor well. Doing your due diligence in the beginning can save a lot of time and headaches down the road.
After the selection process is complete, SMBs should keep up with vendor announcements and upgrades to avoid the risk of surprise changes, Cuff said.
2. Use monitoring tools
Another common mistake Cuff sees SMBs make is that “they try to size PaaS and IaaS solutions based on how they've sized their own in-house servers.” The problem with this approach is that most SMBs aren’t using performance monitoring tools to see if their existing servers are over- or under-utilized.
With a public cloud, SMBs have a huge array of options when it comes to selecting instances. Performance monitoring can help you make sure you are choosing the best options for your needs, she said.
3. Develop cloud skills
Most SMBs have small IT teams, and those staff members may or may not have experience working in the cloud. Management needs to keep their expectations realistic and give their team members the time and training they need to be successful. “Support your IT staff to learn new skills to adopt and manage PaaS or IaaS solutions,” Cuff said.
She also advised that SMBs move slowly to give staff time to learn the new systems. “Start with a limited trial group of users or a project team before you commit to moving all of your production systems,” she added.
4. Integrate cloud services with existing technology
Cuff advises SMBs to view the cloud as an integral part of their other technology processes. "It’s just another server, but one you have less control over," she explained. IT teams need to consider how the cloud can become part of their existing processes such as change management and disaster recovery.
5. Consider automation tools
Last, Cuff suggested that SMBs use automation solutions. Sometimes small organizations find themselves in a situation where they have “that one person in the team who knows how it all works,” Cuff said. Automation can help firms remove their reliance on that single person and improve productivity for the IT team. “Learn about the various automation tools available and deep dive into the one that suits you the best.”
You can see Sonia Cuff live at Interop ITX in Las Vegas, where she will be on a panel of experts discussing "Digital Transformation in the Real World." The panel will talk about the practical infrastructure implications of cloud and DevOps. Register now for Interop ITX, May 15-19.