What SMEs should consider before migrating to the cloud

21st February 2022BlogRichard Hartill

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Increased remote and hybrid working environments have accelerated public cloud adoption

Many businesses have migrated all or part of their infrastructure to the cloud in the last few years. This cloud journey became even more important for businesses throughout 2020 and 2021 as we faced the unprecedented operational impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now in 2022 industry analysts are predicting further acceleration of cloud adoption, post pandemic, as organisations look to operate an on-going hybrid work environment.

As a result, public cloud computing market in the UK is expected to reach an estimated £11 billion ($18,314m – source Statista) in 2022. This estimate encompasses business processes, platform, infrastructure, software, management, security, services delivered by public cloud services.

The potential risks of public cloud are less well advertised

For any SME looking to take this step, while there are plenty of well documented benefits such .as flexibility, scalability, convenience, costs, the potential risks of public cloud computing are probably less well advertised. For example, moving to the public cloud is often seen by many SMEs as a means to saving costs and securing their data, resting on the belief that cloud service providers will have all of the required security systems in place, so the organisation doesn’t need to invest in any additional resources. But it is important to remember that the cloud is just someone else’s computer and that, when it comes to compliance and accountability, data security is always the organisation’s responsibility and a robust and resilient policy is essential.

Remember the cloud is just someone else’s computer and that, when it comes to compliance and accountability, data security is always the organisation’s responsibility and a robust and resilient policy is essential. Click To Tweet

Image of man holding a cloud graphic with a lock and key in the centre

So, what should SME business leaders be aware of before transitioning to cloud? 

Aside from properly thinking through how and if they need to outsource their data security, moving to the cloud is not automatically less expensive than an on-premises solution. Organisations need to ensure they fully understand the cost of moving to the cloud and what this entails, as well as the cost and complexity of returning any corporate data back to an on-premise environment should they wish to in the future. This is important so that they don’t become hostage to their cloud service provider.

Balancing the convenience of public cloud computing with the need to maintain integrity and security of sensitive company data is challenging. There are plenty of third-party providers and MSPs who have been attacked by hackers at an ever-alarming rate recently. Consequently, the UK Government has highlighted regulatory changes that will be brought in to ensure third parties are taking security more seriously. Nevertheless, SMEs still need to consider implementing safeguarding strategies before making the move to public cloud. Above all, they should make sure that they:

  1. Understand the costs involved in moving to the cloud (this analysis should also include any hidden costs that might not necessarily be divulged during initial discussions with the CSP or MSP).
  2. Understand the complexity of managing sensitive data when systems aren’t their own.
  3. Understand how to secure these systems beyond the security provided by the MSP.
  4. Understand what highly sensitive data they have, and the risks/implications to the company in the event of a breach resulting in that data being compromised.
  5. Is there a type of data within the organisation that is too sensitive to be stored on the cloud and, if so, how is that data going to be secured?

Likewise, they need to make sure the services they are procuring are right-sized to the business needs. Over the years Northdoor plc has successfully helped many organisations to take that step into the cloud. Here is one example.

Over the years Northdoor plc has successfully helped many organisations to take that step into the cloud. Click To Tweet

A successful cloud migration

Blue Cube Travel migrates to Microsoft Azure

UK-based Corporate Travel Management Company, Blue Cube Travel, made the strategic decision in 2018 that it needed to future-proof its IT infrastructure and migrate from a traditional on-premises server-based setup to the cloud. This migration had a wide scope as it involved not only moving from office-based servers, but the organisation also needed to replace servers, networking, phones, and enhance its security.

From the outset, Blue Cube Travel decided to outsource and select an IT specialist consultancy with cloud pedigree, as it didn’t have the in-house resources to manage a migration of this scale and importance. This was a strategic decision for the business and not just a simple ‘lift and shift’ of its on-premises systems to Microsoft Azure cloud.

The organisation needed to address several requirements such as data privacy, security, resiliency, and ensure business continuity as well as the governance required to comply with regulations such as GDPR. It chose Northdoor to assist with the migration to Microsoft Azure because it recognised that our team really understood the needs and challenges of an SME. With our expertise and professional services support each of these elements were manageable deliverables and by the end of 2018 the migration was complete. Servers, phones, networking, data and a new collaboration solution were all in the cloud.

Being hosted in Microsoft Azure made the business acutely aware of the myriad of solutions and options which are possible. Kevin Trill, Director of Technology from Blue Cube Travel said:

“If you don’t have a specialist partner, like Northdoor, who understands your business, the cloud, and all the possible options, it can quickly represent a risk to your organisation, especially if you haven’t implemented the right security solutions.”

All too often you don’t know what you don’t know

He went on to say:

“Any SME business, like Blue Cube Travel, that is considering a move to the cloud, needs to evaluate using professional services and managed services. Unfortunately, you don’t know what you don’t know and having a trusted partner, like Northdoor, to advise at the migration stage and thereafter has been essential for our continued use of the cloud. Without this expert guidance, it was highly likely that any solution we implemented risked failing to deliver on any of the reasons why we migrated to the cloud in the first place. Furthermore, operating in the cloud is not always as cost-effective as you think. A stand-alone comparison of each on-premises solution versus cloud-based is too simplistic. There is no way we could have implemented all the solutions which are now vital to our business operation without using the cloud.”

There are clearly many benefits of migrating to the cloud, as Blue Cube Travel has indicated, but at the same time, despite what any CSP or MSP might tell you, making sure that you have the right elements in place is not always as straight forward as it might appear. Undertaking the appropriate due diligence in advance of such a migration is imperative for a successful long-term outcome.

Winner 2022 IT Europa Channel Awards Cloud Solution Provider of the Year

Northdoor has won the “Cloud Solution Provider of the Year” at the  2022 IT Europa Channel Awards for our work with Blue Cube Travel. Read more.

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