Understand your IT to make the most of the cloud

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1. Cloud computing is wholly reliant on an internet connection, so it pays to have a plan for when your main connection fails.

A cost effective method is to buy a 3G-capable router and pay monthly for a broadband dongle.

2. Make sure all your company applications and software work in the cloud environment. Moving most of your IT into the cloud and then finding one of your applications doesn’t work is a waste of time and money.

3. Cloud computing can be delivered using different pieces of technology. Make sure you receive clear advice on what’s best for your business.

4. You will probably be charged per gigabyte of data hosted, so it pays to cleanse your data before you migrate.

5. Cloud computing is a utility: if you have ten users, you will pay for ten. Ensure you understand your tariff to avoid any nasty surprises at the month end.

6. Your cloud computing provider holds all your data. Ask them how long it takes to respond to problems and whether they have an uptime guarantee. It should be 99 per cent.

7. Six months after you’ve replaced all your PCs isn’t the right time to move to the cloud. Consider cloud when your hardware and software are ageing and need a refresh.

8. Google and Microsoft are massive cloud providers but where is your data being kept? SMEs might consider a cloud provider that explains exactly where valuable company data is stored.

9. Cloud computing is a service that should not require long contracts. You should be able to leave your provider freely with a month’s notice.

10. Many cloud providers don’t offer IT support, however SMEs will still inevitably need help with IT issues. Choose a provider that includes IT support in your monthly fees.