There is a ton of noise around Cloud Computing these days and it can be extremely confusing as to what it really is and how it can benefit your organization.  I wanted to take a few moments to share with you how organizations can get started with the Cloud with three easy tips. First and foremost, start small. Second, set reasonable expectations with your management team on what you want to accomplish in the Cloud. In other words, clearly define goals that are real and attainable. Finally, pick a Cloud provider that will work with you and who cares about your success. Let’s dive into each of these a bit further.

Tip #1 – Start Small

This is the most important thing to keep in mind when considering moving to the Cloud. Cloud Computing is is relatively new and can be risky undertaking depending on what your organization does and what you want to accomplish. If your approach to Cloud Computing is with the expectation of moving your entire production banking application directly into the Cloud, chances are you are going to fail. Instead, look for the low hanging fruit. Try to identify applications that screen Cloud. A few examples would include new projects that have low to medium visibility, but still have a compelling event to get completed. Perhaps these projects involve third parties or partners that need to collaborate to get things done. This can be a perfect testing ground for the Cloud. You can develop and test applications and solve problems without having to deal with the security challenges of getting all of these organizations inside your four walls. Treat your entry into Cloud Computing simple as a proof of concept.

Tip #2 – Set Reasonable Expectations With Management

This is similar to the first point, but often times a CIO or VP hears a bunch of stuff about how moving to the Cloud will solve all IT challenges in the blink of the eye. If you take this approach with your first venture into the Cloud, you will likely fail. Be sure to pick low risk, high reward projects. Let management know what you are doing, the risk involved to doing your project in the Cloud, and of course the potential benefits. Position your first project as a proof of concept, so if you do encounter snags, you won’t find yourself in an uncomfortable position.

Tip #3 – Pick a Cloud Provider That Will Work With You

This is absolutely critical. The great thing about the Cloud is that it is self-service.  However, the disadvantage of the Cloud is often times it can be daunting trying to move the Cloud completely on your own. On the flip side, you also do not want to bring in a Big 3 integrator and spend millions of dollars to define a 3 year Cloud migration strategy. What you need is a reliable provider that has a solid support team that will provide you with best practices and provide guidance when needed to make your move to the Cloud seamless. This point can be further reinforced by avoiding long term contracts with providers. Stick to providers who won’t lock you into medium to long term contracts so they have the incentive to make you successful.

These are exciting times for Cloud Computing and if you remember to start small, set good expectations with management, and pick a supporting Cloud Provider that has your back, you are guaranteed to be successful.

-Mike Neil, Director of Field Ops / Skytap