Get Your Network Ready for Cloud Operations

 Moving to the cloud gives companies incredible opportunities to leverage third-party platforms and computing power remotely and over the internet. The opportunity to ensure future scalability and reduce operational and storage costs and headaches are obvious.

Even so, there are steps that have to be taken to make sure your network and on-site infrastructure is ready and up to the task of moving key operations offsite and into the cloud. 
Cloud computing basically uses the public internet (or a dedicated connection that we can also help with — Ed.) to expand your company’s network so as to access cloud applications, offsite resources and storage remotely. This guide will help you to assess and update your network in advance of a move to the cloud so that you see the best results. 

Network Assessment

Before you do anything else, you are going to need to take a hard look at what you’re starting out with. As a start, consider your current bandwidth needs and the number of end users, voice and videoconferencing demands, and possibly even your wifi planning. That done, you will need to consider how much of a burden your new cloud application traffic will be. If it’s a significant jump, your network may very well need to be updated. You may also want to consider upgrading the speeds of your internet connections. 
You may want to reach out to a good sales engineer at a network services provider. They will have done these assessments any number of times, and will be happy to weigh in on your conclusions or point out 

First Things First

Ideally, you’ll have a great big honking direct fiber internet connection working for you at this point. Great to hear! Even so, data prioritization is an important next step. If you have one IP address blowing up your entire bandwidth pipeline, you’re going to have a bad time. Prioritize your cloud solution and make sure that you are allocating your bandwidth in a workable manner. 

Next Thing is Next

One of the biggest reasons to move to the cloud is that you can shift the onus of data storage and computing power to a remote location. The foreseeable downside is an even stronger need for a high capacity, very reliable, internet connection. Ignoring this change in priorities or failing to secure a superior network connection can lead to bad times. Moreover, it has to inform your decision making relating to network monitoring and security. Talking to a provider with the ability to backstop your network monitoring 24/7 and assist with tracking your WAN performance is a no brainer. 

Does a Second, Redundant Connection Make Sense?

Protip: when you absolutely depend on offsite computing and storage, having a redundant connection is not really a luxury spend anymore. If your provider drops the ball, or even if there’s a wayward backhoe that catches your run of fiber in a random spate of bad luck (happens to the best of us) you can lose a LOT of productivity. Talk to independent providers and MAKE SURE that the connection you get quotes for really is as independent and redundant on the last mile as is practical and/or cost effective. 

Cover Your Backside

Moving to the cloud makes sense for a lot of reasons — from space considerations, to pure costs, to physical security of your critical infrastructure. Even so, cloud computing introduces an entirely new set of security considerations to ponder and address logically. Informing senior leadership about a serious data breach is probably one of the worst calls anyone will ever have to make. Here is a brief rundown of where to start making preparations so that it never happens to you. 
Generally speaking, it is best to keep your most sensitive information on remote cloud systems. Paper is still entirely viable for some types of storage. Additionally, encryption and offline electronic storage are also viable instead of just putting it in the cloud (ideally, it’s backed up and stored in more than one place, right?) 
If those approaches aren’t viable, or your business and cloud are regularly in the business of dealing with sensitive information (let’s face it, probably most everyone these days), you should probably talk to your cloud provider and/or friendly network services provider about available encryption solutions

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