At this point, it seems as though every business has pressed their face against the glass and looked into the cloud market. Some out of necessity, others for curiosity, and some because well, someone said they should. Regardless of the motivation, nearly every business is interested to know, “What are other businesses like ours doing when it comes to cloud?” I’ll tell you.

Every business wants to drive down cost, respond to requests faster, automate operations, right-size resources, drive tighter alignment between development and operations, reduce complexity, focus on outcomes and not infrastructure…the list goes on. There are myriad reasons why businesses just like yours have already moved some portion of their environment to the cloud – and they have an advantage because they’re already reaping those benefits. That begs the question: Where do we begin? I’ll tell you that, too. You first need a vision – a goal.

What’s Your Vision?

Do you remember when you first virtualized servers? Why did you virtualize? Chances are you had a goal or a vision for the new way that IT should deliver servers. You started with the easy ones first – the non-critical servers and lower risk workloads. Then as we all became familiar with things like distributed switching and the black magic of VMotion, we pushed the envelope. Before we knew it, we had adopted a virtualize-first policy. We started with static workloads and adapted to this new IT service platform. Most of the time, with the same technology partners, we expanded the virtualization effort. The same holds true for the cloud delivery platform, so you should pick a cloud partner that can grow with you.

Many businesses start with a static workload or discrete service. Take email, for example. Every business needs it, but few actually need to own it. I offer that the partner you choose for hosted messaging should also be able to host your other servers as well. It should be as easy as importing your OVFs and hydrating those next to your mail server. Running virtual desktops or virtualized apps? You no longer need to own the infrastructure those run on. Those virtualized desktops should sit next to your new virtual servers, which sits next to your messaging platform. You’re expanding that cloud effort just like you did with virtualization. You have to protect all of this, too.

Staying Safe

Just because you’re in the cloud now doesn’t mean you abandon best practices with regard to back-up and disaster recovery. True, the infrastructure should be fault tolerant and highly available – that’s one of the benefits of moving to the cloud. However, the cloud partner you select should be able to deliver a DR solution that supports your RTOs and offers data protection options that align with your RPOs. If you’re going to make a migration to the cloud, be strategic. The cloud should be a technology partner.

So, what should you be doing in regards to cloud? Find a partner that maps to your vision. The cloud partner should be a strategic partner. Firms like Evolve IP are delivering the full complement of cloud services, starting with hosted Exchange, all the way through hosted voice and contact center, and everything in between. That’s strategic. So, while everyone wants to know what everyone else is doing, I encourage you to step into the market with your vision and find a trusted partner. When you can articulate your vision and find the partner that can grow with you, and protect your interest along the way, you’ll no longer have to worry about what everyone else is doing in the cloud – you’ll have already figured it out.

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