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1. Loving a cloud before determining the problem you are trying to solve. Just move to the cloud. It's easy right? As they say on TV... "To the cloud!" The fact is, moving to the cloud as an SMB can be both advantageous and overwhelming. Adopting cloud computing technology within your organization should only be done if it solves an immediate problem not because of popularity trends.
SMB customer's of Skytap are interested in cost savings but more specifically they are looking for the ability to create virtual environments, run applications without code changes or rewrites and the ability to collaborate and share using a simple self-service web user interface. A cloud that just offers pure infrastructure will make it hard for functional users to accomplish business tasks without a UI framework to guide the workflow.
SMB Cloud Tip: Determine the problem you are trying to solve. Moving to the cloud should make sense for all specific requirements of your business.
2. Spending dev test resources getting your apps to run in the cloud.
Some clouds won't look so white and fluffy once you realize that you have to rewrite your code or applications to work on that cloud provider's platform. Assuming that you can just sign up for any cloud service and then experience nirvana is a very real and painful lesson that businesses of all sizes have experienced.
Do yourself a favor and learn from the mistakes of others. Most users are already familiar with the business and technical applications they use today, whether its email, training or sales demo applications. clouds that power these applications without any changes will deliver immediate value. At Skytap, we have learned firsthand that SMB users won't always wait for IT to build or rewrite applications for use in the cloud.
SMB Cloud Tip: Running your existing applications without changes is a huge factor in determining if a cloud is easy to use and cost effective, especially for SMB's.
3. Ignoring IT policies, security and getting enamored with self-service.
"I don't need IT anymore. I have a cloud, right?" Wrong... in fact very wrong! Moving to the cloud doesn't mean washing your hands of IT policies. You cannot assume that a cloud will manage itself. You must make sure that your selected provider allows the ability to enforce IT policies with cost controls and charge-back billing to internal groups.
The solution should have the capability to ensure quotas can be applied to individuals and departments to cap usage. Most importantly the solution should enable IT policies to be enforced globally, such as approved subnet ranges for virtual data centers and the ability to prevent assignment of public IP addresses to virtual machines.
SMB Cloud Tip: Your IT team should have complete visibility and control over anything and everything you do with the cloud.
4. Assuming the cloud will manage itself and not watching the meter run.
It is a common misconception that moving to the cloud will help your business realize immediate cost savings. The reality is that the cloud can prove to be a "free for all" system if not carefully managed. Most infrastructure providers offer no advanced and easy to use cost control capabilities such as auto-suspending resources when not in use to save cloud usage costs.
This often times can lead to cloud sticker shock. Solutions like Skytap Cloud can measure the value on a per user basis as well as offer distinct pricing for different usage levels. Having a solution like this in place can help you avoid paying the same fee for light and heavy users within your organization.
SMB Cloud Tip: Avoid spiraling cloud costs by choosing a provider that enables you to automatically manage usage.
5. Select a cloud that is not user friendly and a provider that offers no enterprise level support
One of the most painful things is not being able to get responsive support when you need help, especially when your business is on the line. Success in new technologies, such as cloud computing, requires responsive support. Determine if you can call your cloud provider directly or if you must work through an online form or email inquiry to troubleshoot an issue or resolve an open question.
Also ensure that the support team will respond to your inquiries within a few hours versus a day or more. Lastly, avoid long-term contracts with providers, especially if you are just getting started with the cloud. Stick to providers like Skytap who won't lock you into long-term contracts.
SMB Cloud Tip: There are several cloud options. Choose a solution that is easy to use and a provider that will support you well.
About the Author: Nate Odell is Director of Marketing at Skytap, a leading provider of cloud automation solutions. He is an industry veteran with a successful 11-year career in B2B marketing for Startups and SMB's. Follow Nate on Twitter @N8Odell or @Skytap.
Photo by notsogoodphotography