1. What is the business benefit to having someone "manage my cloud"?

When it comes to Business, next to your human resources, your data is your most important asset. In both cases, however, the care and feeding of those assets usually determine the value and life of your business. Gone are the days when technology investments moved at a glacial pace. In today's world, businesses operate at light speed and technology must do so as well.

To level the playing field in today's ultra-competitive marketplace, many are migrating their data to a cloud environment. This alleviates the need to "stairstep" purchase technology infrastructure to maintain capacity.

If you look at the chart, it shows a much more efficient utilization of your infrastructure. As shown, everything above the line on the chart is essentially wasted capacity. Keep in mind, however, that you still need to have someone manage the capacity, but you gain the advantage of a Pay-as-you-go model, rather than having unused infrastructure waiting around for upcoming capacity.

While it is relatively easy to open a cloud account with any of the major providers out there, you must understand how to get the most out of your operational investments to realize the cloud's full potential.

2. What are the risks?

All business owners and managers need to understand the risks associated with their data. Take, for example, the sales rep who decides to leave and take the entire customer list along for use at a competitor. Another example is the all too familiar effects of ransomware. This is where someone hacks into your system and locks you out of your data. Lastly, on the "Doom and Gloom" list is the massive hardware failure that takes out all your hard drives and the critical data they hold.

All these examples are concerns that keep both business owners and their technology staff awake at night. While the cloud can go a long way toward minimizing the risks listed above, it is important to know the risks are not automatically addressed. While the cloud offers well over 99% uptime in most cases, the data is still the ultimate responsibility of the business owner. The key is to work with a partner who will help to design a cloud-based solution that addresses both operational and security risks. The goal is to minimize the risk to a level that is acceptable to the business while still maintaining an acceptable price tag.

3. Is this going to save me money?

The quick answer here is "Maybe". To be sure, there are a large number of factors that must be considered when looking at the Cloud.

If one looks strictly at infrastructure buying, as shown above, a company can save money by using the advantage of buying only the capacity required at that moment. The double-edged sword in this case often comes with the scenario where the buyer of the Cloud infrastructure "oversizes" the virtual server to "guarantee" its operational capability and then does not take the time to optimize the capacity. In addition, the simplicity of spinning up a new virtual server in the cloud can often lead to sprawl and a surprise bill at the end of the month.

When it comes to data protection and resiliency, there is a significant toolset available on the cloud. Most companies find that if they were to stand up the same level of protection and resiliency in their environment, the cost would be substantially higher. Again, the key is to work with a partner who can help you plan the best balance between efficiency and effectiveness, as well as providing the proactive monitoring and tuning needed to ensure the Cloud investment is optimal.

4. Can' I just do it myself?

The answer here is, "By all means, yes!" Companies do it all the time. They just need to be prepared for the significant amount of change in process, as well as the requirement to make wholesale investments in training the company's technology workforce. A company with a large cloud footprint requires a workforce that understands how to monitor, maintain and continually improve the environment if they want to ensure they are being truly effective.

In many cases, a small Information Technology staff is better focused on helping the business with strategic planning for growth. The tactical nature of daily monitoring, reacting to alerts, and producing reports for backups, etc are much more suited to a Managed Services solution. The economies of scale associated with most Managed Services organizations allow a company to maintain a true 24/7 technology environment without the need to hire an onsite 24/7 staff. In addition, by partnering with a Managed Services Provider that fully understands the cloud environment, a company can forego the need to train their technology staff in very specialized areas. Instead, they can focus on the company's core business and the associate strategy.