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So you have decided to move to the cloud, but where do you start?

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Businesses are learning that success means choosing good technology and a robust infrastructure – but also a proactive and experienced technology partner for ongoing support. Here are four top tips to help you make the right decision:

Firstly, ask about ownership. Who owns the cloud infrastructure that you are implementing, and where is it? If your provider owns their own cloud it will make things a lot simpler and will allow for more control and flexibility when it comes to dealing with your individual needs. 

Secondly, make sure you conduct a full and thorough review of your IT infrastructure. How many software applications are you running on it? How many people need access? What is your current internet bandwidth? All of these things need to be understood in order for you to implement a cloud infrastructure that will be able to host and successfully run everything needed. It will also help you understand how long the migration to the cloud might take.

Thirdly, test, test and test again! It is vital to test your new infrastructure before it goes live. But don’t make the mistake that so many companies do by only testing the infrastructure and simultaneous access to applications with five per cent of their staff. More often than not, such limited testing will not highlight the bandwidth issues that inevitably arise when they go live with the remaining 95 per cent. It is essential that you engage the whole organisation in the testing process and iron out any issues before going live. 

And finally, make sure the business has a board level sponsor. Moving to the cloud is a strategic business decision for any organisation. It is not only the IT team that needs to be in agreement; in fact I believe that a move of this nature is 20 per cent an IT decision and 80 per cent an overall business decision; it needs the buy in of the whole board.
If you take these recommendations on board, you’re guaranteed to achieve benefits that include greater efficiency, the ability to expand without adding cost, and greater agility and responsiveness. 

One example of this is accounting firm Harris Lipman, who appointed Fifosys in June 2011 to start their migration to the Cloud. “We wanted to invest in modernising our infrastructure, and also in working with a specialist outsourced partner that could design, implement and maintain a long-term IT strategy”, says John Cullen, Partner, Harris Lipman. “We wanted a one-stop-shop that could give us centralised control of our IT operations, and enable us to align and flex our capabilities in line with changing market dynamics.”

Yet with over 40 software applications on its infrastructure and offices in Cardiff and London, the migration was no small undertaking. Migration to the Cloud was completed autumn 2013, with the cloud-based infrastructure going live in October. Thanks to exhaustive testing, the transition was smooth and has totally eradicated the compatibility issues the company had previously encountered. The new set-up meant that the technology, software and applications across the organisation are now standardised, giving all employees a co-ordinated and consistent experience. 

Despite the new infrastructure only being in place for a short time, Harris Lipman is already noticing some major benefits. “The operational gains have quickly become evident,” says John. “The Cloud is enabling us to work from anywhere at any time – significantly enhancing our remote and mobile working capabilities. This is helping us to become more fluid in how we operate, as well as making us much more time-efficient.”

“Technology has moved from being an enabler, to being a fundamental part of our business strategy,” John concludes. “For us, it is as fundamental as cash flow or profit. IT simply has to be integral, it not only supports achieving our commercial goals, but it also drives significant cost-savings over a long period of time. Moreover, being able to do business quickly, efficiently and securely, all adds to the bottom line. It is a critical strategic necessity.”

So the facts are: every business needs to improve efficiency, expand without adding cost, and transform responsiveness – and although it may be a daunting task at first, if you follow these simple steps to adopting the cloud you, just like organisations such as Harris Lipman, will successfully manoeuvre around the risks and soon start reaping the rewards.

Mitesh Patel is Managing Director at Fifosys. He has over 13 years’ experience with a number of IT and business qualifications. He has been Managing Director of Fifosys since 2001 and has built the business to over 100 clients.

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