Without a doubt the one trend that’s causing the most noise in IT is cloud computing. Whilst it’s good to see that the industry is switched on to the benefits that the cloud offers, there’s now so much noise out there that it’s almost impossible for IT managers to find the information they need.

Whether they’re looking to make their first move into the cloud or improve what they already have, IT managers are forced to wade through buzz words and jargon. This can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you’re looking for information to help you make a business decision.

So, in the spirit of bringing some clarity to an overhyped market, here are my top tips to help any business looking to make the most from cloud.

  1.  Lay the right foundations

It’s vital that before you invest in cloud computing services, you pause to take stock of your business’ needs. Assess what kind of data you’re going to put in the cloud or what you’re going to use it for. From this you can ask the right questions to decide on the type of services you require, based on the specific business needs you’re addressing.

For example, are you going to connect to the cloud over the public internet or will you need a dedicated network connection for added security? Are you looking for an extra boost of virtual computing power with some high-speed servers, or just looking for somewhere to store your data? Is the aim to enable more productive remote working?

Success in the cloud is rooted in understanding what it is you hope to achieve. In this way you can make sure you have the right tools for the job.

  1.  Take one step at a time

Once you see how simple it is to move data and applications into the cloud, it can be easy to get carried away and want to send everything there. Especially, when you can immediately see how some applications can better serve your business from the cloud. However, jumping in head-first is not the answer. It’s a better idea to take your time and check that everything will perform as it should before taking the plunge completely. And since you only have to pay for what you use in the cloud, this testing period should be relatively inexpensive.

  1.  Do it your way

Cloud computing offers your business more choice about how you use and run IT. If you want, you can adopt a hybrid approach, running applications on your premises as well as from the Cloud. Because the cloud is more scalable, you can migrate more applications as the business benefits become clearer and your confidence in this model grows.

Work closely with your service provider to identify a solution that works for you. For example, if you’re connecting to the Cloud via your own private network it should be transparent to you and, more importantly, your users where the actual physical servers are located. The freedom to have more choice and room for manoeuvre is at the heart of cloud computing.

  1.  Powering the cloud

Connectivity is fundamental to getting the most out of cloud. It’s no good having the very best cloud solution if connecting to that solution is sluggish or intermittent. Crucially, make sure you have the necessary bandwidth to cover your needs now as well as in a few years’ time when you might be relying on cloud services more. It’s a good idea to double check what SLAs you’re being offered – you need to know that your connection to the cloud is going to be there when you need it and that your service provider can guarantee that!

  1.  Getting security right

When moving to the cloud you must ensure that security, performance and access to your information is all in order. There are two main areas to address. Firstly make sure that your cloud provider has the disaster recovery and security technology in place to assure you of your data’s integrity. Firewalls, high availability SLAs and disaster recovery policies should all be par for the course when it comes to cloud.

Secondly, take note of your own needs when it comes to accessing your cloud applications. If you want the highest security levels then make sure you have a dedicated private connection between your desktop and data centre. All good cloud service providers should offer you credentials and accreditations that provide top-level assurance, however you should check what these are when it comes to security. Assurance in the form of accreditations could make all the difference between a good or bad cloud experience.