Cloud Migration: We asked 16 small business experts what the benefits of moving to the cloud are and what to move first?

Cloud Migration

SME's contribute 202 billion pounds to the UK economy, with an estimated 19% growth by 2025.

But just because you contribute to the UK economy and hopefully achieve your ambitions for your business, does not mean that you are worry free.

Yes, staff, cash flow, payroll, taxes and a whole host of other concerns may be keeping some small business owners up at night, but technology also seems to be on every business owners' list.

According to an article shared by "Talk Business", the publication that prides itself on being for the entrepreneur by the entrepreneur, there are four main tech problems that every small business owner faces.

These are:

  1. Integrating new technology
  2. Backup and disaster recovery
  3. Network crashes and computer problems
  4. Lack of maintenance

Addressing all these concerns may seem like a daunting task, but they could all be solved with one simple change - migrating to the cloud.

The cloud has become so prominent in not just the technology discussion, but business too, it is hard to remember a time when the cloud wasn't a viable option for most businesses. That said, whilst small business spend on cloud is on the up, there are still a large proportion of you out there who are apprehensive about relocating to the cloud.

To address that concern we've enlisted 16 small business and cloud guru's to share their top three benefits of moving to the cloud. To help you with your cloud migration strategy we have also asked which applications and services they would prioritise when making that change.

Here’s a list of our 16 contributors, click on their image to take you straight to their advice, or just scroll down to read them all:

  • Martin Butters

    Martin Butters

    Business and Social Media Director - markITwrite

  • Sally Eaves

    Sally Eaves

    CEO Sustainable Asset Exchange (SAX), Forbes Technology Council and Professor of Advanced Technologies.

  • Eric Vanderburg

    Eric Vanderburg

    Security and Technology Thought Leader, Consultant and Author

  • Ian Moyse

    Ian Moyse

    Natterbox Director, rated #1 Global SaaS influencer (Klout) and #1 Cloud Social influencer from 2015-2017 (Onalytica).

  • Antonio Grasso

    Antonio Grasso

    Digital Transformation Advisor, founder and CEO of Digital Business Innovation Srl.

  • Tim Hughes

    Tim hughes

    CEO and Co-Founder, Digital Leadership Associates.

  • Mike D Kail

    Mike D. Kail

    CTO of Everest.org,  a decentralized platform and protocol to build value exchanges between people and organizations

  • Carl Reader

    Carl Reader

    Chairman of D&T and founder of the #BeYourOwnBoss movement

  • Bill Mew

    Bill Mew

    Digital, social and communications professional, and top global influencer on Privacy, Govtech & Cloud

  • Mani Hayre

    Mani Hayre

    Group Business Development Manager for the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce.

  • Helen Roberts / Soraya Lavery

    Helen Roberts / Soraya Lavery

    Helen is MD and Soraya COO of CPG.

  • Rob May

    Rob May

    Managing Director, ramsac ltd.

  • Neil Cattermull

    Neil Cattermull

    Independent Industry analyst.

  • John Arundel

    John Arundel

    Infrastructure expert, author, and consultant at Bitfield Consulting

  • About - Amir Hashmi - zsah

    Amir Hashmi

    Amir is an experienced technology, strategy and business process expert with significant exposure to both the Enterprise and SME spaces. 

1

Martin Butters - Business and Social Media Director - markITwrite

Martin Butters

Martin is the Business and Social Media Director for MarkITwrite.

He graduated from The University of St Mark and St John in 2004 with a degree in English Literature, Theology and Philosophy.

MarkITwrite provide quality digital content and SEO services for numerous magazines and websites in the consumer and enterprise technology markets including Sitepoint and Social Media Examiner. 

Martin Believes that the main benefits are: 

  1. "Reduced Costs: Building and running your own data centre is expensive. Cloud services for data management eliminate these costs. Cloud communications services cost less because they charge on a monthly subscription basis and use IP (Internet Protocol) to bring call charges down for all locations. Most cloud services base their charges on things like the features you choose, your number of users, amount of storage or memory space, etc. This usually works out cheaper than paying for things individually, e.g. with software licenses.
  2. Less Administration: Service providers and managed services take care of the day-to-day running and maintenance of cloud resources. Users typically just have to administer their accounts locally, using software.
  3. More Flexibility: Service plans usually allow subscribers to adjust their number of users, the number of tools or features they sign up for, and other factors on the fly - again using simple software. The capacity of cloud infrastructure allows for businesses to expand or shrink their usage, as conditions change. Cloud services are accessible to anyone with a decent internet connection. So they're great for companies with mobile workers or remote staff."

His recommendation for which services to migrate to the cloud first are:

"Email: Eliminates the headache of maintaining an on-site mail server, and usually provides better usability options.

Telecoms and Business Communications: Including VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phones, chat and Instant Messaging, and tools for collaboration.

Accounting: Note that desktop software for accounting no longer exists as a first choice. All the major brands ship as cloud platforms.

File Storage and Backup: Cloud services allow for easier automation of file processing and data backups - and the good ones provide for security and Disaster Recovery (DR)”. 

2

Sally Eaves - CEO Sustainable Asset Exchange (SAX), Forbes Technology Council and Professor of Advanced Technologies

Sally Eaves

Sally is recognised as a thought leader in emergent technology (Blockchain, AI, Machine Learning, VR/AR) and the inaugural recipient of the "Decade of Women’s FrontierWomen50 Award" for her work with the United Nation’s. She is an international events speaker and an established author.

A professor in advanced technologies, her specialities include Business Consulting, Technology Consulting, FinTech, Online Media Strategy, Individual, Team and Executive Coaching and Mentoring, Leadership Development, Intrapreneurship, Attitude, Behaviour and Cultural Change, Employee Engagement, Business, Technology and Education Research.

We asked Sally what she believes are the top 3 benefits of moving an organisation's IT and operations to the cloud?

"Adoption of private, public and increasingly hybrid cloud computing solutions continues to rise as aligned to specific business needs. The overarching driver for the move to cloud is the enhanced, agile and integrated optimization of business resources including all-round transparency.

The first specific key benefit is cost - with savings spanning capital, operational costs and operational efficiency perspectives.

Second and third is IT resource flexibility leading directly to superior innovation capacity. This is enabled through anytime, anywhere access and the vast reduction or elimination of daily operations associated with infrastructure management. Resources can then be redirected towards strategic growth, enriched engagement and the development of transformative new services and business models.

Cloud technology is already beginning to redefine how small businesses use IT. Key areas for early adoption and impact are Email and Collaboration Suite Tools, Customer Relationship Management, Hosting, Payment and Order Management Platforms, Accounting, Sales Force Automation, Human Workforce Management and Data Backups.

Use of hybrid cloud solutions are most likely to reduce the friction often associated with business model change.

Additionally, with operational data volumes rising exponentially and as organisations grow, the benefits of migrating to cloud-based data warehouses will significantly increase.

Blockchain technology can also become an appropriate bridging strategy from one organization's cloud platform to another’s on-premise applications, especially with regards to authorization, authentication and digital identity."

3

Eric Vanderburg - Security and Technology Thought Leader, Consultant and Author

Eric Vanderburg

Eric is a cybersecurity leader, consultant, author, and thought leader.

Eric leads the cybersecurity consulting division at TCDI and is also the Vice Chairman of the board of directors for the Technology Ministry Network. He serves on the editorial board for the HITSF Journal and on advisory boards for a number of colleges.

Having earned over 40 technology and security certifications, Eric is the author of several books and he frequently writes articles for magazines, journals, and other publications.

Eric says "The top three benefits of moving IT and operations to the cloud are:

  1. Operational costs that are matched to utilization
  2. Cloud provider investments in security and resiliency, and
  3. Agility to meet changing business conditions."

"The top 3 cloud applications that I would recommend to small businesses include: Office 365, Salesforce, and ADP. 

I would also recommend small businesses consider Amazon Web Services (AWS) for hosting systems or applications and GoDaddy for websites."

4

Ian Moyse - Natterbox Director and Industry Cloud Influencer

Ian Moyse

Ian is widely recognised for his contribution to the cloud industry over the past 12 years. In addition to being the Sales Director for Natterbox, the Cloud Telephony Provider, he has been rated #1 Global SaaS influencer (Klout) and #1 Cloud Social influencer from 2015-2017 (Onalytica).

He was listed in the EMEA top 50 influencers in Data Centres, Cloud & Data 2017. In addition to this, he has also guest blogged for many leading publications and organisations such as Oracle, Equinix, Cloudtech and Maximiser. He also recognises emerging talent by sitting on boards of UK cloud awards, such as Eurocloud, FAST and the Cloud Industry Forum.

Ian says,

“According to the Cloud Industry Forums industry survey, the top 3 reasons for cloud adoption were reported as flexibility of delivery (74%) , operational cost savings (72%), and scalability (65%).

In my experience working with organisations that have made the cloud-focused move, top benefits include, increased agility, operational efficiencies and improved user experience through better mobile and remote accessibility.”

With regards to the applications and services that he believes should be migrated, he states,

"For a business, the focus should be on what is your core business?

Is it selling cleaning services, delivering food products or providing temporary staff?

Whatever it is, your underlying IT is an enabler and should be minimal effort.

You do not want to be managing infrastructure, updates, patches and the security, this detracts from your core business focus.

Having key LOB applications in the cloud, therefore, makes sense, from Hosted Email, Cloud Telephony and your accounts and CRM platforms.

These are already mature in the cloud and enable you to be more agile, have more consistent IT delivery and easier flexibility of mobile and remote working for your employees." 

5

Antonio Grasso - Digital Transformation Advisor, founder and CEO of Digital Business Innovation Srl

Antonio Grasso

Antonio is an experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrable history of working in the information technology and services industry.

His skillset lies in Digital Strategy, Digital Transformation, Business Planning, Requirements Analysis, and ITIL. In 2016, Antonio founded Digital Business Innovation Srl, which aims to bring Digital transformation to SME's.

With its headquarters in Napoli, Digital Business Innovation Srl specialises in: software and app development, digital transformation, cyber security and machine learning.

He is also an Advisory Board member for AITrading. Antonio can be best described as a B2B Influencer, Innovator, Speaker and Startups Mentor.

Antonio suggests that,

"The digital diffusion imposes a shift in the way businesses relate with their stakeholders.

Many processes need to be fulfilled via an electronic relation; this mean that our IT systems need to be opened to send and receive data. A good way to face this change is the cloud and the top 3 benefits can be represented by:

  1. More Security: the provider has more skill around cybersecurity and therefore data can be better protected.
  2. Cost Optimization: no investments in IT infrastructure
  3. Service Availability: data and applications are available every time and everywhere
    Public, Private or Hybrid Cloud, each company can choose a different architecture but all of them can really boost the businesses operations.

Small Businesses can adopt the Software as a Service as a new way to use software tools in the organization. This can include email, storage, website hosting etc.

By the way, a more effective way is to move to the cloud all documents related processes to enable a full collaboration when creating / sharing documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

A service like G Suite or Microsoft Office 365 can boost productivity and enhance collaboration. Moreover, ERP as a service can also be important to let the stakeholders collaborate in a common and shared environment.

Our economy is becoming decentralized and SMBs need to adapt to this epochal change."

6

Tim Hughes - CEO and Co-Founder, Digital Leadership Associates

Tim Hughes

Tim is the best selling author of "Social Selling - influencing buyers and changemakers".

He is a speaker, community builder and a top 10 influencer according to Onalytica. Furthermore, Tim is the CEO and co-founder of Digital Leadership Associates, the Global Social Consultancy.

Digital Leadership Associates helps businesses with all things social media and social selling. Prior to starting Digital Leadership Associates, he worked for Oracle for 10 years where he was UK Business Development Director.

Tim gives huge insight into the reasons his company moved to the cloud, saying,

"As a two-year-old startup, our cash position is critical for us, we have to know what our burn rate is. Employing people is a major decision for us and we must have people who can contribute from the “get go”.

Cloud has enabled us to get the business up and running quickly, we don’t need to employ IT staff and we don’t need to make decisions about hardware sizing, licences, etc etc.

We go online, put in our credit card and buy what we want. For example, Gmail enables us to buy emails, per person per month. If we have starters or leavers we can flex the service and the cost.

As a small business owner myself I don’t have to take on the cost and aggravation of supporting my own IT, the top three benefits of moving to the cloud are:

  1. Cost savings
  2. Simplicity of my systems
  3. Simplicity of licence - what you pay for is what you get."

Again, Tim shares which applications he runs on the cloud:

  1. Xero
  2. Leadfeeder
  3. Gmail
  4. Linkedin, Twitter etc
  5. Brandwatch

While some of those applications, such as LinkedIn may not be seen as your average cloud application. As a social transformation business that provides the coaching and mentoring needed for social selling, Linkedin is, after all, a cloud based service."

7

Mike D. Kail - Chief Technical Officer of Everest.org, a decentralized platform and protocol to build value exchanges between people and organizations

Mike D Kail

Mike is the CTO of Everest.org.

Everest is a decentralised platform and protocol to build value exchanges between people and organisations.

Based upon the blockchain and Ethereum smart-contract technology - Everest makes tools for institutions to deliver value to communities.

He has over 25 years of technology executive leadership experience, working for organisations such as Yahoo, Cyberic and Netflix.

His industry commentary on social media has helped him to be named in the Top 100 CIO's on Twitter. He is a contributor to a number of blogs, as well as having his own, where he posts regularly.

According to Mike, the top 3 benefits for moving to the cloud are:

  1. "Scalability and "Elasticity" of Infrastructure. No more over-provisioning of compute/storage/network and it also results in greater velocity of development.
  2. Security - The top Public Cloud providers have far better physical and digital security solutions and allow businesses to only focus on having to secure the application and data layers.
  3. Accessability -- With Public Cloud, one can access their applications and data from literally anywhere and that can be enhanced by using multiple geographic regions and availability zones"

With regards to applications to move over first, mike said,

"My view is to outsource/offload to SaaS/Cloud what isn't core to your business and revenue, so: E-mail / Doc Storage, HR/HCM, Financials/ERP"

8

Carl Reader - Chairman of D&T and founder of the #BeYourOwnBoss movement

Carl Reader

Carl is a small business champion.

He prides himself on being able to help people understand that business isn't difficult - in language an eight-year-old can understand!

He has written two published books (Hodder): The Startup Coach and The Franchising Handbook.

He is a columnist in national press and business magazines, as well as owning a handful of businesses, being a passionate keynote speaker and TV and radio commentator.

He is the founder of the #BeYourOwnBoss movement and chairman of the business advisory firm, D&T.

He is currently also serving as a non-executive director for the BFA (British Franchise Association) and the Martial Arts Standards Agency, ambassador for IPSE (Association of Independent Professionals and Self Employed) and Campaign Board member for Buttle UK.

When asked what the Top 3 benefits of moving an organisations IT and operations to the cloud are, he said:

  1. "Integrity of software: by using cloud applications, businesses can be assured that every user is using the same (and latest) version of the software, reducing the risks of incompatibility between users.
  2. Uptime: certainly in our experience, we can be relatively assured that our cloud software will be reliable. So, things like server crashes no longer have the impact that they once did.
  3. Data security: cloud applications have made 'tape backups' a thing of the past!"

Carl suggests that the best applications to begin your migration are,

"The easy wins, where benefits can be seen straight away, are in the office suites and emails - the ability to work remotely and collaboratively are phenomenal.

Other systems that lend themselves to cloud computing are any packages that rely on integrations - this includes accounting and CRM systems.

Finally, any frequently updated software (which can be anything from design software to industry-specific software."

9

Bill Mew - Digital, social and comms professional, and top global influencer on Privacy, Govtech & Cloud

Bill Mew

Bill is a leading advocate for digital ethics and digital transformation.

A former global leader for IBM's Financial Services Sector, CMO for Compare the Cloud and Cloud Strategist for UKCloud, Bill is a strategic advisor to a number of leading tech firms including Gov-tech specialist Advice Cloud.

Bill is the world’s top social influencer on Gov-tech, a top commentator on Cloud and one of the judges of the UK Cloud Awards.

At the same time, as a campaigner for data privacy and other ethical issues in technology, Bill is also the world’s top social influencer on Privacy.

Bill appears almost weekly on broadcast TV and radio, and is a prolific author of articles and blogs.

Bill managed to narrow down the benefits to these top three:

  1. "Bizarrely, given that security used to be one of the main fears inhibiting cloud migration, security is actually about the biggest advantage of moving to the cloud. The WannaCry malware attack back in 2017 is estimated to have cost the NHS £92m (£19m of lost output, based on 1 per cent of NHS care being disrupted, and £73m of IT cost in the immediate aftermath to actually fix everything).

    It was the NHS’s fragmented technology estate that was hit. None of the workloads that had been migrated to the cloud had been impacted at all. Small businesses with limited IT or security resources would be far better off in the cloud.

  2. With the introduction of regulations such as GDPR, compliance has become a big issue. If you have customer data scattered across various spreadsheets, databases and other documents located on numerous servers, PCs and other devices, then it is almost impossible to be compliant and the fines are disproportionately punitive for small businesses, reaching as much as €20 million, or 4% of annual global turnover – whichever is higher. Few SMEs could take a €20 million hit, or indeed anything like that.

    Even without the threat of fines, though, it is important to take privacy seriously. A recent research report from FleishmanHillard Fishburn entitled 'The Dying Days of Spin' looked at the issues that were most important to consumers across all industries and sectors (not just tech).

    Many of the issues that it found to be of greatest concern, such as healthcare and education, were ones that consumers expected the government to act on. Interestingly, the main issues that consumers expected companies to act on are now security and privacy (more info in my white paper here), surpassing things like diversity and sustainability that had previously topped this list. If security and privacy are the issues that matter most to your customers, then they should also be the ones that matter most to your business as well.

  3. The key business advantage from moving to the cloud, though, is flexibility. This includes the flexibility to scale your compute and storage capacity, as well as the flexibility within containerised environments to create and reuse portable microservices and avoid the restrictions inherent in monolithic applications. Containers (such as Kubernetes) also give you the flexibility to port workloads from one cloud environment to another."

In addition to this insight, Bill shared his top applications and services that small businesses will benefit from migrating to the cloud:

  1. "Start with the low hanging fruit like productivity app suites: if Office365 is too expensive then there are cheaper alternatives, Google Apps or Libre Office.
  2. Also focus on SaaS applications that will increase productivity and provide a rapid return on investment, starting with your CRM systems, using systems like Salesforce or some of the CRM alternatives.
  3. Many organisations have already migrated the easy stuff to the cloud and are now left with the stuff that is going to be more difficult to migrate. Rather than having to do everything at once, you can take a more pragmatic approach. Virtualized workloads can be lifted and shifted to virtualized environments within the cloud and re-engineered into cloud native applications or containerized over time."

10

Mani Hayre - Group Business Development Manager for the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce

Mani Hayre

The Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC), based in the West Midlands has been supporting Asian businesses since 1987.

ABCC aim to champion businesses successes, be firm in the face of adversity, and supportive through tough times.

Whatever the business need, the ABCC aims to support their members in order for them to continue to develop, connect and grow.

There are over 3000 businesses within the network benefiting from their support, networking and event opportunities. Mani herself is originally a northerner who moved to the Midlands.

Her blog, appropriately named manismadness, covers multiple aspects of her life, from travels to reviews and lifestyle.

Mani says that when looking at migrating to the cloud through the lens of a small business the three main benefits are:

  1. "Collaboration – from a small business perspective, especially one that deals in software and confidential information moving to the cloud makes sense for collaboration between businesses and clients.
    Cloud can be more secure in terms of file sending and confidential information so my second benefit would be to outline security.
  2. Security – whilst there are many arguments against cloud being secure in terms of hacking etc. it seems for small businesses it's more secure than files and documents which can be destroyed in other ways. It helps in terms of backing up each day, as opposed to doing it manually as it can be automated.
  3. Flexible – It allows employees to share data and to work remotely. As the standard 9-5 is becoming a thing of the past, having a cloud-based system gives flexibility to employees to log in remotely and carry on with their work whilst travelling or at meetings, etc."

Mani Believes that the main applications to move to the cloud immediately are;

  1. Email
  2. Hosting
  3. CRM
  4. Data Analysis

She believes that the last two tie in together, suggesting that "from a CRM perspective, hosting on the cloud and using a cloud-based CRM to track activity, run reports etc.

I know from working in a small business that went cloud-based, it's much easier to collate information and host than it was on a manual server and on a CRM system that didn’t really run reports that well, unless it was date specific." 

11/12

Helen Roberts, MD and Soraya Lavery COO - CPG

Helen Roberts / Soraya Lavery

CPG is a consulting firm which helps businesses grow.

Specialising in food, tech and professional services, their aim is to make business owners' jobs easier and more fun, by helping them to find the answers to their business challenges.

Both Helen and Soraya are involved with numerous projects which help start-ups and SMEs, such as Wandsworth Digitech and StartUp Richmond.

Running networking events, hosting talks and knowledge shares, as well as offering consulting, both Helen and Soraya are small business experts through and through.

In their expert opinion, migrating to the cloud offers these three main benefits:

  1. "It is easier to work from anywhere and not rely on your own hardware. All of your staff can access work from anywhere with an internet connection. Also, you can see what they are doing from anywhere too.

    The modern workforce wants flexibility and the ability to work from home, a café or while they are abroad. Ideally, this needs to link to their smartphone so they are always “in” the office (Within reason of course!)

  2. By not having your own server hardware then you essentially never have any office downtime. Backups are always available and usually, they kick in immediately. Further cloud-based systems are generally very well protected by firewalls, so you are unlikely to face any hacking, trojans or other nasty surprises
  3. Utilising and linking your SAAS packages to your cloud system. This helps with automation, ensuring you stay up to date and it allows you to link different software packages so you have more access to the data you really need.

    The more you can automate, the easier it will be for you to run your business. For example, linking Xero to your sales department. That way your sales team knows what has been invoiced, what is due on a client account, what money they have to chase and many other things like that.

    Further, the younger workforce is used to having the most up to date tool. They are frustrated to see out of date software being used and this can even be a reason for them to leave your business."

Not able to limit the benefits to just 3, they also added,

"It creates greater efficiency and ability for speed which is a necessity in this fast moving market we are in."

With regards to which applications or services they would suggest migrating first, their suggestions were:

  1. "Xero - Making your accounts digital is a requirement from April 1st 2019.
  2. Office 365 - Have access to the tools you need to manage your administration, marketing and finance from anywhere.
  3. Dropbox for business - Having an automatic backup of all your file is vital. Having the ability to roll back files or change who has access to what has never been easier.
  4. Collaboration tools like Slack /Bitrix24- Everything is essentially a project and by managing it through Slack/Bitrix you know where you are with everything. Easily accessed through your smartphone too"

13

Rob May - Managing Director, ramsac ltd

Rob May

Rob May is Managing Director of ramsac ltd. a company dedicated to making IT simple.

ramsac pride themselves on taking the stress out of IT support and strategy. He is a lifelong honorary member of the Cloud Industry Forum.

Rob is a TEDx, keynote and international business speaker. Speaking for The Academy for Chief Executives and Vistage, he is dedicated to helping business leaders grow.

Rob is also an ambassador for CyberSecurity at the Institute of Directors. He is also a published author, a Liveryman and a Global SME Influencer; having been listed as one of Sage's Top 100 and Top 100 global SME influencers.

He is an award-winning entrepreneur who started his first business when he was just 12!

Speaking about the benefits of migrating to the cloud, Rob said,

"Cloud brings a number of benefits including; greater agility, improved security and resilience, and flexible payment models, all of which help to alleviate costs and enhance user experience."

He believes that,

"Email is the number one service in terms of continuity, access and cost.

Secondly, I’d suggest HR, the ability for staff to request and manage holidays from their mobile phones, see company documentation etc is very easy and cost effective to achieve in the cloud.

Finally, I think collaboration working practices are easily enabled in the cloud with low price tools easy to access which allow for more efficient working practices across the business."

14

Neil Cattermull - Independent Industry Analyst

Neil Cattermull

With over 25 years of IT Management & Tech experience, working at major banking institutions as well as vendors, Neil has a deep technical understanding of cloud and centralised technical infrastructure with the corresponding business reasons why you should adopt the technology.

He is the director of Frontier Technology - a leading advisory for current and future technology roadmaps.

Neil consults, educates, markets and delivers cloud strategies that include marketing and sales messaging, business strategies with training courses for vendor and end consumer client organisations.

He confesses that he will advise anyone that will listen, and many do, with Neil being a highly influential speaker at many prestigious events.

Neil says,

"I believe the top 3 benefits for small businesses to adopt cloud technologies for IT and Operations are:

  1. Flexibility is key when you run a small business. Having the option to scale up and down for your operational IT Infrastructure when required massively assists with cash flow and agility.
  2. Skills for technology are hard to keep up to date. Security is a good example, where multi-layered threats are appearing monthly, but by utilising Cloud services that are constantly updated, it gives you that peace of mind that you are at least trying to limit your risk of breaches as much as you can. Of course, there are other examples, but IT Security is an easy one to explain.
  3. It just makes sense to host your IT and Operations upon cloud platforms. As I said before, Agility is one good point but put this together with speed, accessibility (access anywhere for remote working initiatives), cost sensitivity (subscription rather than total cost of ownership), information security (especially where stringent controls of privacy and data governance are now apparent) - why wouldn’t you?"

Neil believes these are the 4 areas you should move to the cloud first:

  1. "Communications - whether your messaging system of choice is Slack, Email, Skype or other - Messaging is key and this is a very important point!
  2. A finance system of choice - Sage is an obvious choice due to their breadth of products, plus you can bolt on the HR element too!
  3. Sales tools - Sales is the lifeblood of young small businesses and having the correct platform for visibility and management is key! Lose those spreadsheets and work from a platform like Salesforce!
  4. Information storage - although you can manage without additional hosting of data by sharing information with messaging, ideally you need to have file sharing - marketing, sales proposal editing and sharing, sensitive information etc. Don’t keep it on your laptop to be stolen after that late night in the pub celebrating the latest sale!"

15

John Arundel, Infrastructure expert, author, and consultant at Bitfield Consulting

John Arundel

John is a highly experienced consultant and trainer, and the author of several books on Puppet, as well as the upcoming 'Cloud Native DevOps with Kubernetes' (O'Reilly): https://cloudnativedevopsblog.com. He helps companies moving to cloud, containers, and Kubernetes.

He has been writing software for 35 years, managing Unix systems for nearly three decades, and working on infrastructure from nuclear power stations to Netflix.

John says "The chief advantage of the cloud is economic: instead of buying a computer, you buy computation. That is, instead of sinking large amounts of capital into physical machinery which is hard to scale, breaks down mechanically, and rapidly becomes obsolete, you simply buy time on someone else’s computer, and let them take care of the scaling, maintenance, and upgrading.

In the old days of bare-metal machines—the Iron Age, if you like—computing power was a capital expense. Now in the cloud it's an operating expense, and that has made all the difference.

The cloud also brings flexibility. If your business grows fast, you can resize your servers at the click of a button, instead of having to provision new hardware. If you need a little less capacity this month, you can scale down your cloud resources and keep the savings.

Finally, the cloud is not just about flexible, virtual equivalents to hardware servers. There are many powerful and scalable cloud services you can take advantage of: databases, queueing systems, email sending, container orchestration, and so on.

Economies of scale make it far more cost-effective for many companies to use 'software as a service' in the cloud, rather than building and operating their own services. 

I'm a big fan of the 'run less software' philosophy. Don't run any software you don't have to. 'Undifferentiated Heavy Lifting' is a term coined at Amazon to denote all the hard work and effort that goes into things like installing and managing software, maintaining infrastructure, and so on. There's nothing special about this work; it's the same for you as it is for every other company out there. It costs you money, instead of making you money.

Instead, you should outsource undifferentiated heavy lifting to the cloud, because it'll be cheaper in the long run, and it frees up resources you can use to work on your core business. Only you can decide which services it makes sense to migrate to the cloud first, depending on your particular business, but here are some things to look at:

  1. Email and general office applications. Moving these to the cloud is likely to be a big win over running your own email servers, calendaring, and other office IT services.
  2. Project management, issue tracking, chat, discussion forums, and so on. There are excellent, low-cost cloud solutions for all of these. Compare that to the cost of your staff's time in setting up and maintaining these services internally, and you'll find it's a no-brainer.
  3. Website and application hosting. Rather than host and maintain a Content Management System (CMS) for your website, use a cloud-hosted solution (WordPress.com is a good example). A platform-as-a-service tool like Heroku can make it incredibly easy to deploy and update your applications. If you're running software in containers, Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) gives you a reliable, scalable, powerful platform using the latest Kubernetes container technology."

16

Amir Hashmi, CEO zsah, experienced technology, strategy and business process expert

About - Amir Hashmi - zsah

Our own CEO, Amir, is an experienced technology, strategy and business process expert with significant exposure to both the enterprise and SME spaces.

He has over 15 years of experience in software engineering, infrastructure design, development and service design and founded zsah in 2002 in order to deliver innovative hosted software projects.

zsah now provides organisations of all sizes with private and public cloud services, network and hosted infrastructure, enhanced with advisory and consultative support.

zsah is the backbone for many SaaS organisations and a valued partner to blue-chip companies and SME's alike.

Amir believes that the top benefits of moving to the cloud are:

  1. "Ability to free up cash flow by moving IT spend to an OPEX model
  2. Agility and speed benefits in procuring and onboarding new IT systems
  3. Potential cost savings"

The top applications he would consider moving to the cloud first are: 

  1. Email
  2. Storage
  3. Finance
  4. Application hosting
  5. Collaboration tools

TL;DR - Conclusion

 

Benefits

As our experts highlighted, there are many benefits to cloud migration for a small business.

The top 3 being:

  1. Security and compliance
  2. Remote working
  3. Cost savings

 

Applications

Our experts have provided a strong business case for cloud migration. However, they have also given advice on which applications and services to migrate to the cloud first. The top recommendations are:

  1. Email
  2. CRM
  3. Productivity suites such as Office 365 and G Suite
  4. Collaboration tools such as Slack
  5. Accounting software such as Xero or Sage

That's what our experts think... but what do you think?

What would you suggest are the key reasons to (or not) to move to the cloud and which applications would you migrate first?

Leave a message in the comments below. 

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1 Comment

  1. SannyKEp on December 11, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    Nice posts! 🙂
    ___
    Sanny

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