Companies, especially medium and small-sized companies, can often find tighter security practices in a hosted cloud service than they could manage on their own. They just need to be vigilant in making sure they're asking for as much security, or more, than what they already have or what they think they will need going forward.
"Those are the big questions when considering a hybrid solution," said Olds. Let's say you have an online store that runs fine on your existing systems most of the year, but needs more capacity in December, for the holidays.
"A hybrid cloud sounds like the perfect solution," but there are numerous approaches you could take, Olds said. These include putting instances of your store on a public cloud along with keeping the instances you have on your internal systems? Alternatively, you could just keep your catalog on the public cloud and keep all ordering and account applications on systems in your own data center, he explained.
Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, noted that companies should depend on policies for what applications or data should be in a private or public cloud. If these policies don't yet exist, Enderle said, companies should develop them before launching into the cloud.
3. Talk to other customers
Nearly every analyst recommended that IT administrators meet with other companies that are of similar size and have similar needs and find out what they have already learned from their own cloud experiences.
Ask about pricing. Ask about the features they are getting and which ones they wish they were getting. Ask about any security and reliability issues. What is working for them and what isn't?
"You want to learn from other's experiences as much as possible rather than from your own mistakes," said Enderle.
Kagan added that while the cloud sounds simple, it's actually complicated and land-mined with critical issues like security and reliability, which could make or break a business.
"If you know other companies that use a cloud provider and can get recommendations, that's always a good place to start," he said.
4. Choose vendors carefully
To find the right vendor -- one that has a lot of experience and successes under its belt with businesses similar to your own -- companies need to ask a lot of questions.
Ask for their statistics. How many companies have they worked with? How many large enterprises, versus medium and small companies, have they worked with? Ask to speak to some of their customers who run similar-sized businesses, or ones in your vertical area.
Ask for their stats on reliability (uptime, availability) and security.
"There are a large variety of cloud companies, large and small, that focus on different areas," said Kagan. "Decide what you will eventually need, then make sure the company you choose can handle it all." Also consider using more than one provider because it lets you compare in a real-world situation. Then as time passes, "you can migrate more to the one that you like the best," Kagan said.
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