Aug 02 2022

What Should Small Businesses Prioritize When Moving to the Cloud?

Here are the four most-important workloads to shift off-premises.

Before COVID-19, small businesses were beginning to migrate to the cloud. But since the first year of the pandemic, adoption has accelerated, propelled by the cloud’s benefits and the increasing shift to remote work.

“The cloud has become an essential ingredient to simplify the underlying technology supporting business operations,” says Josh Hamit, senior vice president and CIO at Altra Federal Credit Union and a member of ISACA’s Emerging Trends Working Group. “As more small businesses decide to move to the cloud, the question becomes, which workloads should we prioritize?”

Here are the top four.

1. The Cloud Is Perfect for Data Backups

Data is the lifeblood of most businesses, which means if data is compromised — for example, by a cyberattack or file corruption — day-to-day operations may become impossible. Protecting data with secure backups is paramount. The cloud is a more suitable place for doing that than on-premises infrastructure.

“Unless you have an IT person monitoring and maintaining that backup system full time, there’s probably some vulnerability, compromise or misconfiguration that leaves your company open to malware,” says Brent Ellis, a senior analyst at Forrester. Backup as a Service options can relieve small businesses of the costs, time and unreliability of backing up onsite.

“I would strongly encourage organizations to consider prioritizing cloud backup solutions as the quickest path to mitigate significant risk to the organization,” says Hamit.

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2. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Benefit from the Cloud

COVID-19 illustrated that businesses can’t prepare for everything. Disruptions happen, whether from power outages or a pandemic. If a small business’s office becomes inaccessible, work needs to continue. Most prepare for that with continuity contingencies, but without an office to go to, there may be no access to those plans — or the hardware needed to keep the business up and running. The cloud offers an essential alternative.

“The cloud can provide a useful online repository for business continuity planning documents and procedures that can be easily accessed from anywhere,” says Hamit. Cloud-based continuity services paired with cloud storage or backups could even offer virtual desktop infrastructure or Desktop as a Service options to ensure staff can keep working as if it were just another day in the office.

Business disruptions can result from both natural and human-made disasters, such as major storms and cyberattacks. Without a detailed disaster recovery plan, organizations can be wiped out by such events.

“Even the smallest businesses can’t ignore the importance of having a mechanism to recover from a catastrophic event,” says Hamit. Adopting disaster recovery in the cloud, however, can ensure business-critical systems are restored — often, pretty seamlessly.

There is one important caveat, says Ellis: “Disaster recovery requires backup to work. You have to have the data.” If you migrate your data to the cloud, your backups should follow.

LEARN MORE: See how productivity apps can benefit SMBs in the cloud.

3. The Cloud Enables Desktops

Desktop as a Service and virtual desktop infrastructure have become the means by which many companies are powering their growing remote workforces. For small businesses, migrating to cloud-based virtual machines that can be accessed by a fully at-home staff offers significant savings by removing the need to pay for office space, hardware and more. DaaS and VDI can also streamline business operations.

“DaaS and VDI allow an organization to better control their resources and data centrally within the cloud provider, without needing to have anything stored locally on the endpoints,” says Hamit.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Find out how VDI and DaaS can simplify remote work.

4. Businesses Should Consider Cloud-Based Email

Given the importance of email, migrating this function to the cloud offers several benefits that make doing so an easy choice: Cloud-based email is more accessible, scales easily to accommodate workforce growth, frees infrastructure for other uses, and frees IT staff to focus on more business-critical tasks.

A cloud service provider may also offer better email security, which is important in the era of pervasive spam and phishing threats. “Rather than using piecemeal solutions to address spam filtering, malware protection and data loss prevention, cloud providers often include these security features with their subscriptions,” says Hamit. “I would prioritize email in the cloud as a quick win.”

Small businesses that move ahead and migrate these workloads to the cloud will see even bigger wins.

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