Get Ahead in the Cloud: 5 Steps to Drive Better Business Outcomes

If you’re among the third of business leaders planning to invest more in cloud technologies this year, you’ll want to ensure you unlock full ROI. Rob Smith, CTO at award-winning cloud provider Creative ITC, highlights five steps to cloud success.

The uptake in cloud storage shows no signs of abating as companies look to access the latest technologies, improve employee and customer experience and boost their bottom line. Migrating to the cloud offers businesses greater IT agility, with fast access to scalable storage and a means of escaping the burdens of running their own data centre and costly upgrades.

However, a pain-free migration to cloud storage and long-term success are not easy. To help you reap the full return of cloud investment for your organisation, here are five steps to follow:

1. Storage Selection
How do you pick the right solution for your organisation? Public, private, hybrid and multi-cloud options now sit alongside on-premise storage, and there’s a plethora of vendors and service providers vying for your business.

First, decide which data and workloads you need to keep onsite for regulatory or security reasons, and which are best suited to go into the cloud. You’ll need to conduct a thorough assessment of your apps and data on a case-by-case basis. There may be some information that doesn’t need to be retained at all, which simplifies challenges like GDPR compliance.

Calculate how much capacity you need both immediately and in the long-term. Right-sizing takes skill and experience, but done properly, will result in the most cost-effective solution.

2. Finance Fine Print
Thanks to Microsoft, Google and Amazon, it’s quick and simple for anyone with a credit card to purchase cloud storage at attractive entry prices. However, it always pays to scrutinise the fine print. These public cloud giants have been blasted by Gartner for their aggressive pricing to lure in customers, with many finding the attractive headline prices are a fraction of what they end up paying.

IP addresses, failovers and backup all incur additional charges. Unused static IP addresses, unhealthy instances and unattached persistent volumes and can all drain money, too. You may also face unexpected costs for:

  • Incorrect provisioning:
    Under-provision and you’ll need extra capacity at a higher cost; over-provision and you pay for resources which are not used
  • Transactions:
    Many public cloud providers charge for accessing your data – as your data increases, so do the costs
  • Migration and egress:
    Most providers bill to extract your data, so you could find yourself effectively stuck with your cloud provider
  • Data transfer: Transfer of data into a public cloud is generally free, but transferring it out is often subject to charges

Be cautious of attractive discount offers when you commit to cloud storage over a fixed term. These can offer significant savings – but only if you use the prebooked capacity.

Calculate TCO of your cloud storage before you choose. Although private cloud starting costs can seem high, it may prove more cost-effective over the long-term. Seek out a specialist provider offering a managed storage solution right-sized for your needs, with transparent pricing and expertise to optimise performance. Choose wisely and you’ll avoid costly mistakes, get good, honest advice, save on resourcing and make the most of the storage you’re paying for.

3. Allow Sufficient Time
Don’t under-estimate the time required to manage cloud migration. Too many businesses end up forced into a rushed lift and shift of their data and workloads, transferring legacy issues to a new platform. Allow sufficient time to design and implement a storage strategy tailored to your business needs and budget.

Data migration shouldn’t be delegated solely to IT teams. Collaboration is essential to de-risk the process and make the right long-term decisions. Involve finance early on. Their help in understanding the true cost of various storage models will save time and money. Work with DevOps and enlist support from business unit and application owners to build understanding of how your firm uses data and how it should be classified, accessed and stored. To avoid paying over the odds, premium performance should only be applied where necessary.

4. DIY vs. Managed Service
Unlocking the full benefits of data storage isn’t straightforward. Some workloads may need to remain onsite, but on-premise and cloud platforms don’t always work well together. Stretched IT teams still have to manage everything themselves, facing problems overseeing multiple platforms, lack of skilled resources to optimize performance and growing security threats.

A specialist provider offering Storage-as-a-Service (STaaS) across cloud and on-premise platforms can significantly improve ROI.

When choosing, consider:

  • Performance:
    Do you have the internal resources and skills to optimise storage performance with effective data tiering to ensure speed of access and maximum uptime?
  • Visibility:
    Does your IT team have effective insight across all storage platforms, with visibility of capacity, usage and bottlenecks?
  • Lifecycle Management:
    Do you have sufficient knowledge and budgets to keep up with the latest storage technologies?

5. Security
More security tools don’t equate to better security. A complex cloud environment where you’re using multiple security tools is a recipe for high risk. Alert fatigue, visibility gaps and lack of 24/7 monitoring leave organisations vulnerable to attack.

Most MSPs invest heavily in top-end cybersecurity tools and expert staff and provide 24/7 monitoring, reducing the need for you to hire and retain infosec professionals. STaaS can be tailored to suit your specific needs, not only in terms of capacity and performance but for security too. One security advantage of hybrid cloud infrastructure is the flexibility to decide where applications and data will reside. If you need certain data to stay on-premise, with others in a secure private cloud, some fully-managed STaaS offerings can accommodate this.

Take Your Time to Achieve a Holistic Approach

The ever-evolving storage landscape has never offered a wider choice – and it’s worth taking time to shop around. Whether you’re reviewing costs, service from your current provider or looking to ease the burden of cloud management on your in-house team, considering your cloud options and choice of MSP is likely to reveal a better, more cost-effective solution that meets your capacity, performance and security needs.


Rob Smith
Chief Technology Officer, Creative ITC

After a tenure as Head of Technology, Creative ITC welcomed Rob as Chief Technology Officer in 2019. A highly qualified IT leader and technologist, Rob was a driving force behind the new Creative managed services portfolio and played a key role in the design and delivery of the company’s ground-breaking BIM VDI platform. He also brings a wealth of experience from 15 years working at Cisco, and value-added resellers.