What’s one tip you have for an entrepreneur planning to migrate company data to the cloud for the first time?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC leads #FixYoungAmerica, a solutions-based movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work.
1. Always Back It Up
Migrating data can be a mess, and you’ll always want to make sure you have plenty of copies of your work saved elsewhere in case something incredibly wrong happens with the migration.
It’s a bit scary trusting the cloud initially. What makes me sleep better at night is having a redundant backup on a ReadyNAS, which is basically a small hard drive server that backups up my files in real time. That way, I have two copies of my files at all times — one in the cloud and one on my server.
3. Drag Data to DropBox
Your email should live in the cloud today, with cheap solutions that you can access from any device at any time. I think Dropbox is another early difference you can make with little pain, allowing your team to collaborate on documents and presentations with automatic backup and version control.
4. Understand the Basics
Using cloud-based servers and storage can help tremendously for effectively scaling your business, but remember that it’s not a cure-all. If you don’t have proper systems in place, your servers could still run out. Make sure you or your tech/IT teams understand how to best utilize the capabilities of cloud computing so you know how to take advantage of the benefits and avoid outages.
5. How Big Is Your Cloud?
When doing your research, find a cloud with a server capacity that will grow with you. My first suggestion is to check out Microsoft BizSpark’s free suite of services for entrepreneurs. Other paid options include RackSpace, Amazon Web Services and SingleHop. RackSpace has a sliding scale that will automatically bump you up to the next level of service if you need it.
6. Map It Out
You should not simply copy and paste your files from your local machines into the cloud. If you are moving your data, you should take the time to plan out and possibly reorganize the structure of that data. Consider who will be using what and what levels of permissions are required to access files. Plan out who needs access to what and your cloud solution will be far more effective.
7. Clean Up the Filing Cabinet First
Moving your data is a massive undertaking, so make sure that you move the right information! Scrub your data before moving it — update customer account information, make sure the formatting is correct, and take the time to update your document-naming strategy. This will make the move easier, and will also make the data more useful when all is said and done.
8. Create a System
Before everyone in your company sends data to the cloud, set up a structure for how files are organized and labeled so you can find files easily. By having a system for uploading files and organizing them, you’ll find the process much easier to adapt to over time.
You’re probably moving data to the cloud so you can access everything you need from everywhere. If you’re scrambling around folders trying to find that simple file you needed ten minutes ago, that’s not more convenient or any more efficient. Take the time to organize the information you’ve put in the cloud.
10. Phase the Move
Don’t try to migrate everything all at once and for all. Create a transition plan and implement it. Make sure you do it in bite-size pieces so that the changes are easy to digest for your clients, employees, partners and everyone else involved. This also gives you the opportunity to test the water before taking the plunge.