Chances are, if you’re a small to mid-size business and you’ve been around over a decade, you’ve collected a lot of data. From financials to customer records, supply chain information, employee data and more. It’s also likely that you’ve moved that data around to various servers in your office as they age or perhaps into various cloud-based apps. Even accounting software today is moving into the Cloud and you’re mixing between Excel spreadsheets and an accounting system in the Cloud via a web browser.

Problem is, as your business grows and technologies evolve, you’re going to create more information, collect and store more data and going to need more storage over time. For many businesses, especially a small business, running an on-premise data warehouse is very costly with software licenses, a proper temperature controlled room, hardware, firewalls, people and so on. Most of that can be offloaded to the Cloud.

This means moving data around. The game many Cloud providers play is to get you on their platform and make it so it is very expensive and time consuming to ever move your data. We call this electronic entanglement. We also all know that prices always go up.

So the key for small to medium sized businesses (SMB) is to know when to move your data into a Cloud service. Typically, this is when you realize you’ve got a lot of on-premise servers, that your data is getting harder to manage and that you’re starting to think about using business intelligence software and building better applications to manage all your data or considering Information Management (IM) tools and practices. If your IT people keep coming at you for budget for these things, start thinking about moving your data. But remember, you want to retain some control over how portable your data remains.

So a business is faced with a new set of problems: ongoing cost increases and difficulty in moving data later. To some degree this can’t be avoided. Even if you go with an on-premise approach, you will still face paying for licenses and ongoing development as well as the entropy of technology debt. So either way, you’re going to be paying someone and if you move to the Cloud you’re in someones ecosystem whether it’s Google, Microsoft or Amazon Web Services or someone else.

Each Cloud service has its good and bad points. No one service is truly better than the other. The battle Royale right now is between Microsoft and Amazon for platforms with Google a distant third.

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