Related Topics: Healthcare Innovation Journal, Cloud Computing for Small Business Success

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Case Study: Cloud Transitions Done Right By @VIIAD | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

Six lessons from someone who has been there

Every successful company hits growing pains at some point along the way. One of the most harrowing for IT is the transition from the "build it quick!" startup mindset to the more structured and stable mentality of a mid-stage business.

For VIIAD Systems, a healthcare technology company that is reinventing how healthcare information flows, our transition from startup to mid-stage was marked by a transition from a physical, bare metal solution to a private cloud.

We had been experiencing an almost overwhelming influx of business over the last two years, which was both a blessing and a challenge. Like many small businesses, we had pieced together our infrastructure over the years, which eventually resulted in an expensive and "clunky" solution. Upgrading our systems was a daunting task, and we were concerned that any downtime to critical systems would be crushing to the business.

In the end, we made a successful transition to a private cloud hosted by managed cloud hosting company INetU, and saw a 50% cost savings from the start. We also learned some significant lessons along the way. If your organization is looking to make a similar transition, here are some words of advice:

Your technology should be helping your business, not holding it back.
The reason businesses deploy technology is to help them work more quickly, efficiently and easily. It seems obvious, but as we get caught up in the day-to-day grind it's easy to get accustomed to lags and crashes and lose sight of the fact that our IT should work for us - not the other way around. If your business has to slow down or change dramatically to compensate for your IT shortcomings, you are overdue for a change.

Plan and test. Repeat. Repeat.
Transitions to the cloud are scary; especially if you're migrating business-critical applications. Extensive planning is key. Don't try to implement a cookie-cutter infrastructure - you or your cloud provider should be sure you're designing a solution that is tailored to your specific needs, and run extensive tests behind the scenes to gauge loads and functionality before making the transition. If done right, your migration should be seamless to your employees as well as your customers.

Overhauling your IT doesn't mean upending your entire business.
When VIIAD started looking to upgrade to the cloud, we ran into bottlenecks - we wanted to be more agile, but our old vendor only had so many options that they could support. Part of the reason we chose our new vendor, INetU, was that they could keep our existing applications in place, and work them into the new cloud architecture. You shouldn't have to compromise your way of doing business to accommodate your IT; it should be the other way around.

Migration doesn't have to be a painful process.
There are two big reasons that companies don't migrate to the cloud, or are afraid of switching cloud providers: (1) It sounds like a huge hassle, and (2) they believe the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. In reality, a migration to the cloud or to a new provider should be eliminating hassle and making your IT better. If you haven't looked at your options in a while, you should know that the market has changed dramatically over the last few years. There are companies out there that will design your new solution at no cost and handle the heavy lifting of the transition behind the scenes. It's well worth another look.

Service and support are just as important as technology.
While the technology you're deploying is important, the services that come with it are also a vital consideration. Some organizations have a large IT staff and deep understanding of their options in the cloud. If you're a smaller business or have little IT staff, however, you should be sure to look at the services you're getting along with the technology. The cloud never sleeps, and technology and standards are continuously evolving, so it is important to ensure you and your provider can keep up.

It isn't one and done.
A successful transition is a win that should be celebrated, but also keep in mind that your cloud solution needs to be agile and fluid. As your business continues to grow and evolve, your cloud needs to grow and evolve with it. Be sure your solution is scalable and flexible when it comes to incorporating and supporting new applications, technologies and business activities.

At VIIAD, our private cloud solution has positioned us to be much more agile as we continue to grow as a company. Like others before us and to follow us, we had some initial concerns about transitioning to a private cloud, but with the right planning it went seamlessly. We've found that our cloud solution allows us all of the flexibility we had envisioned to expand our business at an even faster rate, and the future looks very bright.

More Stories By Sean Dwyer

Sean Dwyer is an IT Infrastructure Manager at VIIAD Systems. Founded in 2006, VIIAD Systems is a healthcare technology company that is reinventing how healthcare information flows.

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