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How bad do you want to move to the cloud?

Gizzelle Akin photoBy Gizzelle Akin, Structured UC Solutions Advisor

The majority of my career in IT, I’ve held a special place in my heart for small businesses and the people who labor in them.  I enjoy working with these dedicated men and women to update technology in ways that significantly improve their organization — and finding innovative ways to make the updates affordable.

Recently, I visited a customer in a rural city to touch base on their technology needs and found myself in a conversation I’ve been having a lot recently: “We want to move to the cloud.”

As “the cloud” becomes something people are hearing about more often in advertisements and popular media, small businesses are feeling the need to explore what it can offer.  I am in full support of this as most of my customers can now utilize platforms for disaster recovery, desktop virtualization, and enterprise-grade contact center services previously restricted to companies with large IT budgets.

The first question I usually ask is: “How is your internet connectivity?”

When an organization moves to cloud-based services, connectivity becomes the first critical part of the equation.  No matter how hardened and redundant the cloud provider may be, if you can’t get to them, you can’t take advantage of those benefits.

In this case, the customer stated they have one primary and one backup internet connection but still face poor connectivity and occasional outages of one carrier or the other due to their rural location.  I let them know we would have to find a solution to that problem before we could responsibly discuss cloud options.

My first call was to a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) provider. With SD-WAN, we would be able to aggregate the two connections, prioritize applications, seamlessly fail over, and give the customer a connectivity experience more appropriate for a business environment.

The provider also gave me an estimate of a couple hundred dollars a month for their offering, which seemed reasonable to improve uptime.

Excited that I found a viable solution, I called the customer to talk through the option.  I told them of the benefits, how it would improve their business, how it would allow them to move forward with their plans to move to the cloud, and then I told them the estimated cost.

The response? “That’s a lot of money.”

Having experience in handling budget concerns, I asked questions such as:

“How much do outages cost you each month in lost productivity?”

“What if a more reliable connection could lead to cost savings in other areas, such as moving from analog phones to hosted VOIP?”

And finally….

“How bad do you want to move to the cloud?”

Each organization must answer this question for itself and honestly evaluate its commitment to a cloud migration effort.

We have worked with some organizations where every indicator points to sticking with on-premise solutions, but leadership issued a mandate to move everything to the cloud….so they move.  We have also worked with organizations where cloud offers unexpected cost-savings and they migrate to take advantage of financial benefits.

No matter what your reason for having cloud discussions, be sure you understand your organization’s commitment to making the move and be prepared to do what is necessary to ensure success.