Tips & Tricks

Best Practices in Cloud Usage Policy

The importance of a solid cloud usage policy has increased significantly considering that a large number of companies are migrating their applications, services and infrastructure to the cloud. It has been observed that managers who decided overnight that this or that service must be moved to the cloud ASAP. With little time for proper planning, these projects can soon result in disaster.

In this article, we would like to discuss some of the best practices around cloud usage policy. It has seen that companies struggle as they migrate services to the cloud, and a number do so smoothly with little interruption. Even those that experience a smooth migration still need to train their users on how to utilise the cloud properly.

Include Users in the Review Process

Don’t run your cloud project like a skunkworks project. That means, get as many actual users involved in the review process as possible. Help them understand how they can use the cloud to improve their work. Include them in your meetings and updates, and ask for their feedback. I bet you will find that many of them already use the cloud in some capacity. Find out why and how they are using it.

However, it cannot be assumed that everyone shares your enthusiasm for the cloud. You might find that employees from finance are worried about security. Assume they have heard the horror stories, and spend time helping them understand what you are doing to best secure their data.

Never assume that your concerns match the concerns of your users. The cloud might be part of your everyday vocabulary, but it is still a scary concept to many people. Help them by addressing their concerns. Doing so will pay dividends when you ask them to use new products and services they used to run locally.

Not everyone will have the luxury of including users as part of the review process. It implies you will need to prioritise education. Doing so will help set clear expectations for all employees, and make it less likely they will misuse cloud resources. When users feel they have a say in the process, they will be more likely to follow the guidelines and policies.

Maintain an Up-to-Date Usage Policy

This might seem like a no-brainer, but many IT managers overlook this step. Here’s what you do not want: a policy that’s full of outdated products, services and buzzwords. If your company has standardised on a messaging application such as Slack, make sure you list that instead of an older product nobody uses anymore. The same goes for cloud storage and other services. The quickest way to encourage users to tune you out will be to hand over an outdated policy. Doing so overshadows the message you are trying to share.

cloud computing

Prioritize Cloud Security

Ask a few people who have yet to embrace the cloud what’s holding them back. I bet you will find that most users do not trust the cloud. Specifically, they lack trust with their data on the cloud. Security will always be a concern of cloud computing. There will always be an inherent risk of maintaining data outside your company’s firewall. This should not stop you from using the cloud, but understand that nearly everyone has security concerns.
One recommendation to help your users understand why your company has standardised on certain applications. You might have employees who have used Dropbox for many years. Moreover, now you are asking them to use another service to store or share their files. Helping users understand the security implications around your decisions can assist them in making wise decisions.

Users become quite adept at routing around security hassles. That reminds me of a company that required all employees to change their passwords each month. All that did was increase the number of passwords found on sticky notes and whiteboards. Users often consider security only regarding how it affects them individually. When they understand how their actions affect their colleagues, they may reconsider their approach. As with most new policies, early training is critical in getting buy-in.

Proper Network Usage

Your cloud computing platform requires a healthy network. Moreover, yet it does not take much to bring a corporate network to its knees through improper usage. I will start by saying that it is never wise to assume users understand what it proper network usage means. You need to define it for them. For example, most employees understand that running bots or mining for Bitcoins can slow the network. However, what about uploading videos to YouTube or streaming Netflix and Spotify during their lunch break?

Just because an action is legal doesn’t mean you should allow it on your network. I recently found our company’s VOIP system unusable. I could connect to our service, but the call quality was abysmal. After asking around the office if others were experiencing the same issues, we found out that two employees were live-streaming from Twitch.

This was saturating the network to the point that our VOIP service would not work. So many networking hogging applications come and go that it is nearly impossible to keep track of them all. It is also not easy for the employee to determine how much network bandwidth these applications require. Network monitoring tools are a godsend in this regard. Use them!

Cloud Usage Policy Makes a Strong Company

The cloud brings new tools into the hands of IT and employees. The best tools help us create high-quality work in less time than before. That is good news. The bad news is that it is not uncommon for most of the planning around cloud services to focus on technology. This often leads to the users being little more than an afterthought. The two must go hand-in-hand.
You can mitigate this disconnect by following these best practices.

Maintaining an open dialogue between IT and the users is more important than ever. Don’t let the human element get lost in your sea of technical details. The cloud usage policy should be something employees understand and comply with because it makes for a stable company.

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