When thinking about using cloud services, you should first consider trialling it with non-critical applications or business processes. This may help you to see how cloud computing works, if it will suit your business and what benefits it may bring.
Assess cloud service providers
Before implementing cloud computing in your business, you need to consider the following issues:
- Data protection - how will you protect your data, and what measures has the service provider put in place to ensure your data is secure? What level of responsibility will the service provider take for any data loss and what are your legal obligations for your data? If the provider's servers are located outside the European Economic Area, what data processing rules and jurisdiction will apply? See more on data protection and cloud computing.
- Business continuity - in the event of service downtime, a security breach or loss of data, how will your business continue to operate? What back-up systems do you have in place? What service availability guarantees can the provider give? See more on cloud downtime and business continuity.
- Service level - what level and types of support will your provider offer? What financial compensation will they give you if their service becomes unavailable?
- Pricing - how much will the service cost?
- Flexibility - what are your options for upgrading or downgrading service requirements in the future?
- Contract terms - what are your legal obligations if you want to end the contract early - eg to change providers?
Cloud and internet speed
To be able to work effectively 'in the cloud' your business needs a fast internet connection. Cloud computing works most effectively when you can upload data to the provider's servers as fast as you can download from them. Leased line or super fast broadband internet connections are preferable to standard ADSLs (asymmetric digital subscriber lines) as they support faster upload speeds.
You should also check whether your business shares its internet connection with other businesses, as this will reduce upload speeds. Your choice of internet service provider and the support they offer is a key consideration too - because fast internet access is fundamental to cloud services. See more on choosing broadband connection for your business.