Cloud is fast becoming the go-to solution for business computing systems, replacing the traditional legacy model. How can you make the most of a cloud transition?
- Cloud becoming the dominant business technology
- Tip #1 – Consider your goals.
- Tip #2 – Scrutinize your options.
- Tip #3 – Look at your current investment.
- Tip #4 – Dip a toe at a time.
- Fast, reliable, scalable cloud
Cloud becoming the dominant business technology
Are you looking at how your company should be spending its computing budget? The extent to which organizations are committing to the cloud really is kind of stunning. In fact, more than nine out of ten businesses (93 percent) have implemented some type of cloud solution, according to the annual RightScale State of the Cloud report.
As would be expected as the the industry becomes more developed and mature, companies are introducing more complexity into their cloud services. That’s because many companies are choosing to blend different options. More than four in five firms (82%, a rise from 74% in 2014) say that their cloud is a hybrid – an integration of a private cloud (hosted on-site or through a third party) with a remote public cloud in an independent data center.
Of course there has been a huge amount of hype surrounding this technology, but it’s also central to a very real computing revolution – a move to the third platform (cloud, mobile, social, and big data). Generally speaking, information technology has experienced “a shift toward purchasing virtualized, digital services that replace physical equipment,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
As cloud becomes more prevalent, the conversation about its general benefits becomes a discussion of how to migrate successfully.
Tip #1 – Consider your goals.
It’s important to know the position of your business and how you are intending to become better via cloud adoption. Becoming more agile and flexible (so you can adapt quickly to changing marketplace conditions) is the biggest advantage, according to the Open Group. Here are five other primary benefits:
- Cut your costs
- Consolidates your systems and make them easier to manage
- Gives you access at any location you have Internet
- Allows you to work more easily and immediately with others (internal and external)
- Is the sustainable choice because it’s designed for optimal infrastructural efficiency, with lower power use.
Tip #2 – Scrutinize your options.
You want to gauge different providers from every possible angle, of course. Look at these parameters:
“What you want to know is how the cloud provider manages data security, its history of regulatory compliance, and its data privacy policies,” says Business.com. “If a cloud service has clients that deal with confidential and sensitive information you can have some degree of confidence they’ll handle your data in a similarly secure fashion.”
In other words, you want to look for PCI compliance and an SSAE-16 Type II audit, signs that the cloud abides by strict IT standards. Also check for testimonials or other reviews.
It can be a little tricky to figure out exactly what a cloud service is going to cost. Make sure that your service-level agreement (SLA) is clear and properly protects you. Ask whatever questions you may have so that you aren’t caught off-guard.
Public, private & hybrid
Private clouds are sometimes preferred by organizations for compliance or to have the utmost possible control of the system. It also allows businesses to customize parameters as needed. The primary issue with a private cloud is that it is expensive, because you aren’t leveraging the same economies of scale as you are with the public version (since that one involves multiple clients). It’s easier to scale public cloud also – which is helpful not just for business growth but for seasonal businesses and even common peaks such as Black Friday.
You are essentially able to use an operating-expense rather than a capital-expense model. You pay for what you need, the actual amount of data you need to process. The cloud service provider (CSP) keeps the system properly up-to-date and safe, which in turn means you can focus on their core business.
Tip #3 – Look at your current investment.
The cloud is probably most attractive to startups simply because there’s so little upfront expense. Some companies already have their own data centers, though.
Brian Posey notes in TechTarget that companies often leave behind their legacy architecture, in part because it is always on the road toward decay. “Outsourcing a server’s data and/or functionality to the cloud may mean abandoning your on-premises investment unless an-on premises server can be repositioned,” he says. “No matter how good it is, any server hardware eventually becomes obsolete.”
Large companies understand that their infrastructure will eventually no longer be usable, of course. The standard way to build equipment’s aging process into the business plan is through a hardware lifecycle policy. A very straightforward one, for instance, would be to get rid of all servers once they have been deployed for five years.
Keep in mind that cloud is not an either/or proposition. Many organizations choose to interweave their lifecycle policy with their adoption of cloud. This simple step makes it possible for IT teams to switch from on-site servers to cloud rather than buying updated equipment.
That’s also evident in the hybrid cloud scenario, which is fundamentally an integration of private and public cloud components (with the private cloud either on-premises or hosted in a third-party data center). Some companies choose to keep certain systems in their own facility because the process of redesigning and testing them for cloud doesn’t make sound business sense immediately. While older applications typically involve more debate, new apps are more often built for cloud without hesitation.
While traditional computing is still used for portions of many companies’ infrastructures, you do want to explore whether it makes sense to keep any legacy systems in place at all. Patrick Gray of TechRepublic thinks that cloud is quickly become the successor to the dedicated approach to computing. “Cloud computing has completely revolutionized several sectors that were once dominated by large and expensive legacy applications,” he says. “The CRM (Customer Relationship Management) space is a major example, where companies can now provision an enterprise solution with a credit card.”
Just that one example means that firms don’t have to handle a major capital expense. Plus, you don’t have to get specialists to assess the type of equipment you need and engineers to set it up in your data center. You can see the sea change that can occur when you decide that you will no longer be focusing internally on maintaining your own raw infrastructural resources for computing.
Tip #4 – Dip a toe at a time.
One thing you want to remember about cloud, as indicated above, is that it doesn’t require you to toss your current hardware. In fact, one reason people are so attracted to the technology is because you can access whatever amount of computing power you need, changing it as you go.
Gartner analyst Elizabeth Dunlea says that the best way to approach cloud is to think of it in terms of the needs you are meeting as opposed to a collection of technological components. “By tackling one service at a time, it’s easier to measure what worked and what didn’t,” she says. “This is where best practices are drawn for future deployments.”
Fast, reliable, scalable cloud
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