How to Prepare for Cloud Computing

June 11, 2013

While there's no doubt that employing cloud computing services in the workplace can work wonders for making IT infrastructures more powerful and cost-effective, many firms often struggle with a very basic question – where to start. The cloud can definitely improve operations, but for those who have trouble integrating it at first, the repercussions can be seriously damaging.

Forbes recently published the results of a study, conducted by Dynamic Markets and funded by Oracle, that polled 1,355 business managers worldwide on the difficulties they had with introducing the cloud in their offices. Of the managers polled, 54 percent said they'd experienced downtime in the past six months due to trouble integrating cloud apps, and 52 percent said they'd missed business deadlines because of these delays. Furthermore, 75 percent of respondents said that cloud delays were stunting technological innovation at their companies, and 64 percent bemoaned difficulties integrating cloud solutions with other enterprise applications.

Rex Wang, Oracle's vice president of product marketing, noted that cloud systems only work optimally when they're fully integrated across multiple departments within a company.

"Cloud applications have the power to dramatically improve business performance while reducing costs, but only if they can work across the business," Wang told Forbes. "For example, sales managers need to have their territory planning and quota management tools integrated with the human resource and compensation applications in order to better drive behavior and achieve sales goals."

In order to be fully prepared for cloud computing, companies must first ask themselves a few questions.

Who will build and maintain the solutions?
If you have in-house IT personnel who can run a cloud initiative, then more power to you. However, you might need to reach out to outside contractors who can help with such a project.

How complex is the project?
Are you only bringing the cloud to one department of your company – like human resources, for example – or applying it across the board? Budget carefully for the scope you have in mind.

How big is the company?
How many employees will join your cloud networks? How many devices will be involved? How much data will be shared? Begin with the end in mind, and consider just how big your cloud service will ultimately be.

Venturing into the cloud is a big step, and it shouldn't be taken lightly. If you ask the right questions before getting started, you'll be ready to proceed wisely.