IT professionals at businesses with tech-phobic staff have devised an elegant strategy for painlessly migrating their organizations to Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP). Even though these companies’ employees understand the benefits of switching from analog phone service to VoIP—cost savings, increased mobility, etc.—some just aren’t comfortable losing their physical phones and replacing them with “softphone” capability. For those change-wary employees, smart IT pros will either buy VoIP desktop phones, which look a lot like standard phones, or let them keep their analog phones but equip them with adapters to make them VoIP-compatible.
I use the VoIP example to make two points. First, any sweeping change—whether it’s switching your company’s phone service to VoIP or migrating your computing infrastructure to the cloud—can feel risky and even frightening. However, you can often find a way to bridge the transition, allowing your company to dip a toe into the new technology rather than jumping into the deep end on day one. For employees nervous about VoIP, that bridge might involve letting them hang onto the familiarity of an old-fashioned desk phone as they start making VoIP calls.
Similarly, if your IT team is still reluctant to move your computing infrastructure to the cloud, the transition might be a hybrid cloud approach.
Why SMBs Still Fear Moving to the Cloud
Many small and midsized businesses (SMB) that approach my company, managed IT services provider Valeo Networks, have a common story: They want to leverage the benefits of cloud computing (cost savings, scalability, reliability, convenience), but they’re worried about the risks of such a migration. Those risks these companies fear are usually the same—security vulnerabilities, regulatory issues and lack of knowledge about how to build an optimal cloud-computing infrastructure.
One way for a small business to begin reaping the benefits of cloud computing, but without diving all the way in, is with hybrid cloud.
What Hybrid Cloud Means
Hybrid cloud refers to a computing environment comprising two different but integrated IT infrastructures—usually called public cloud and private cloud. When deployed correctly, this environment lets a business realize the unique benefits of both in-house (private) computing and offsite, third-party (public) computing. This is why hybrid cloud is sometimes referred to as the best of all computing worlds.
For example, if a small business needed significant processing power to analyze its database of proprietary (and possibly sensitive) information, a hybrid cloud infrastructure could allow that company to leverage the public cloud’s unmatched ability to deploy massive computing power cost-effectively, while still maintaining its sensitive corporate data on-premises and behind its own firewall.
Without a hybrid cloud, that company might need to choose between two less-than-ideal options: either to entrust all of its proprietary data to a public cloud provider for offsite processing and analysis or to build an expensive on-premises computing infrastructure capable of handling all of that processing in-house.
The question that matters, of course, is whether hybrid cloud is right for your company. To help kickstart your due-diligence process, let me briefly outline a few of the benefits and drawbacks.
Advantages of Hybrid Cloud
1. Reduced costs
With a hybrid cloud infrastructure, a business can maintain its mission-critical applications and data onsite (in its private cloud), while pushing out many of the costly computing services to the public cloud and paying for that computing capacity only as needed. This can result in considerable savings for a company.
2. Increased reliability
One concern that small businesses have about migrating their IT infrastructure to the cloud is that a disruption of Internet service could cause a stoppage of all normal business operations. With hybrid cloud, such a company can keep all of its mission-critical data and apps onsite, so that its staff can continue working even through an Internet outage.
3. Improved productivity
For small businesses that currently keep all of their data, systems and applications onsite behind the corporate firewall, moving to a hybrid cloud setup could help boost staff productivity by letting employees access the company’s apps and data via the public cloud from anywhere. This could make remote workers, field sales reps and other employees become more productive when they’re away from their desks.
Hybrid Cloud Pitfalls
1. Security issues
Although a public cloud provider like Amazon Web Services is far more capable of keeping a small business’s data safe than that business itself could using its own cybersecurity measures, an SMB can still make mistakes in its hybrid cloud implementation that create security or even regulatory-compliance vulnerabilities for its sensitive data. This is why I advise small companies not to try developing this infrastructure without the help of third-party experts, such as a managed security services provider (MSSP).
2. Compatibility challenges
Hybrid cloud environments require highly customized implementations because every company’s infrastructure, needs and priorities are unique. As you can imagine, unless you know exactly what you’re doing, a lot can go wrong when trying to integrate different (and possibly incompatible) platforms, operating systems, technology protocols and vendors into a single, unified computing environment.
3. Lack of in-house expertise
Finally, small businesses understandably worry that if their internal IT team does not have enough experience overseeing a cloud infrastructure, such a migration could leave the organization with a suboptimal computing environment at best and serious disruptions to the company’s IT services and business operations at worst.
This is yet another reason that I would recommend looking into the potential benefits of a hybrid cloud infrastructure for your company, but doing so with the help of an MSSP or other IT service expert.
By David Stills, Valeo Networks, as published in Data Center Journal
From app hosting to backup and disaster recovery, Valeo Networks managed services can make your company’s migration to the cloud seamless, affordable, and painless. Contact Valeo Networks for a free cloud-migration assessment.