By Sara Carter, Co-founder of Enlightened Digital

The term “cloud” has taken on an entirely new meaning in recent years. The cloud has become a must-have business technology that has transformed the way businesses store and manage their data. Cloud computing is one of the fastest-growing services due to its exceptional convenience and reliability. Forbes magazine projects global spending on cloud services will reach $411B By 2020.

The rate at which enterprises and SMBs have adopted this technology far exceeds analyst expectations. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd says that “this movement to the cloud is not just a technical thing. This is a business model, generational change in the way we think about IT.” It’s worth making sure you’re taking full advantage of the opportunities cloud computing can offer your business. To assist you, we’ve taken a close look at three key ways you can optimize cloud usage in your business.

For the second year in a row, the top priority for cloud users is optimizing their costs. The amount of wasted cloud spending is often underestimated, but on average businesses waste around 35 percent of their cloud budgets.

The first step toward correcting this issue is to uncover areas of waste. Begin with personal assessments to analyze your current usage and identify cost-saving opportunities. Once you’ve assessed your usage habits and identified areas of improvement, implementing automated policies like shutting down unused workloads can make a big difference. Many vendors offer services to assist you in managing your cloud spending through tools such as autoscaling or other automated technologies. These tools can give you a better handle on what is and isn’t useful and help you streamline your cloud usage to save money.

Another best practice for cost control is to create a dedicated cloud team. Successful organizations tend to realize early on that cloud services need strong policy enforcement to reduce the risks that can come with decentralizing some critical business operations into the cloud. A dedicated group that can manage and optimize your cloud costs will reduce the likelihood you’ll waste money on redundant or unnecessary cloud services.

Moving more workloads to the cloud is businesses’ number-two initiative for optimizing cloud usage. Moving your operations to the cloud allows for greater flexibility and scalability while helping you avoid capital expenditures on hardware, software, IT support, and information security. 84 percent of IT executives plan to move more workloads to the cloud within the next two years. This migration is plausible for companies of all sizes as cloud platforms become easier to use, faster, lower-risk, and more scalable.

A key part of a successful cloud migration is choosing between public and private hosting. Companies utilizing public cloud services often find that the process is incredibly efficient, but that they have little control over their data. A private cloud, on the other hand, hosts company data and applications in a data center dedicated to a single business. This allows for more control but comes with a heftier price tag. Once you determine which cloud package best suits your needs, drafting a plan to define the migration workflow can help speed the process and minimize unwanted costs. Detailing the resources involved, the timeline of operations, and any related costs can set you up for success.

A final tip for optimizing your cloud usage, both today and in the future, is to develop a disaster recovery plan. The data you create and manage is important, and one of the best ways to protect it is to plan for the worst. Every cloud computing platform should offer its own tools to help you with this process, but it’s up to you to start.

In today’s world, an effective recovery plan involves a systematic replication of business data. This provides protection in case of an attack or system failure with near-instant data restoration capabilities so that you can maintain business continuity. Scheduling automated backups to frequently save copies of your data to multiple distributed locations is an excellent way to do this. Backing up data to two or more data centers — for example, to one in the U.S. and one in Europe — lets you rest easy knowing your data is protected and readily available. Between natural disasters and malicious attacks, vulnerable data is simply no longer an option. A proper plan can make recovering from breaches and restoring any amount of data a breeze.

The cloud can help your company in many ways, and it’s important to know exactly how. Be prepared, and know what you’re looking for and the cloud is sure to help you accomplish your goals.


About the Author

Sara Carter is an experienced tech expert who writes with her colleagues on Enlightened Digital, to share her passion with others around the web. After 15 years in the industry, her goal is to bring information on all technology to the masses. Her philosophy is to create each article so that anyone can understand the content, whether they are a consumer or a technology expert. Check out her site at