IT Focus Area: cloud
December 16, 2016
3 Keys to Successfully Moving to the Cloud
The data center as you know it is disappearing.
A few years ago, building or upgrading your data center was about getting floor space, power and cooling.
Now, as the world evolves to the cloud, the data center is also evolving. What we saw at the Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure & Operations Management Conference in Las Vegas reinforces what we hear by talking with our clients daily, companies are moving toward a data center without the four walls. The data center has become a distributed, virtualized, multi-platform and multi-vendor environment.
In today’s fast-paced market, agility is crucial and velocity is mandatory. Users will no longer wait weeks or months for IT to approve requests. If the IT organization doesn’t respond quickly, users will go elsewhere to get what they need. According to Forbes, at least 40 percent of IT spending is done outside of the IT organization when users purchase the cloud services that they need to do business. It’s up to IT leaders to make sure that enterprise IT teams can meet today’s business challenges. IT leaders must enable agile deployment, along with a fast and safe path to the cloud. And make sure enterprise IT stays relevant.
Here are the three keys to successfully moving to the cloud:
1. The cloud doesn’t always save you money
Vendors will tell you that moving to the cloud saves you money. However, this isn’t always true. In many cases, you’ll spend more on cloud than you’ll spend with traditional IT services.
According to a survey by CIO Insights, 79 percent of IT decision-makers have faced $75,000 in unplanned cloud expenses over the past three years. Meanwhile, 20 percent of companies have paid $1.5 million in unplanned cloud costs. These costs include everything from customizations to managing service level agreements.
More and more CIOs are saying, “I need to hire someone to manage all of my cloud contracts.”
The key to gaining control of your cloud costs is to go in with a strategic plan. Extra cloud costs usually stem from the lack of a documented cloud strategy. It is important to gain a clear understanding of your environment “before cloud” and “after cloud” so you don’t face any unexpected surprises.
Also, it is critical to look at how cloud will impact your business requirements, proccess and risks. This will show you whether a particular cloud service is worth the cost. The first question you should ask at your company is: “What are we trying to accomplish with the cloud?” Too many organizations start investigating cloud options before identifying desired business outcomes. Don’t put the cart before the horse — have those critical cloud conversations upfront.
2. It’s incredibly easy for someone to hack your company, so a successful cloud strategy should begin and end with security
The security session with world-famous hacker Kevin Mitnick at the conference was compelling but alarming. As one of the world’s leading hackers, Mitnick has a 100 percent successful track record of being able to penetrate the security of any system he is paid to infiltrate.
With the rise of the cloud, it is important to note that cloud computing is not innately insecure; it just needs to be managed in a secure way.
Between constant mobile access and the Internet of Things, your data spends most of its time traveling outside the walls of your business. That’s why it’s no longer enough to focus on securing your networks and endpoints. Instead, it is critical to secure your data, wherever it resides and travels. You can do this by developing a data-centric security program.
But don't forget the basics. In addition to cybersecurity, also consider your data center’s physical security. For example, how easy is it for someone to compromise a badge and gain access to your data center? And finally, you should also consider how to track and prevent insider threats. Recent high-profile breaches have taught us that authorized personnel pose just as much of a threat as do outsiders.
3. Develop a successful cloud strategy
The cloud is one of today’s biggest buzzwords. Cloud means different things to different people. Moving to the cloud isn’t a magic bullet that will automatically solve all of your IT and business problems. Like any other business initiative, you need a strategy to succeed with cloud.
There are three key principles of a successful cloud strategy:
- Align cloud options with your desired business outcomes. Public? Private? Hybrid? Which options give you the most flexibility in how you run and manage workloads?
- Accept change. When you are aware of the impacts and plan for them, you will be able to better manage organizational change and avoid mistakes and unnecessary spending.
- Avoid biting off more than you can chew. You can separate your move to the cloud into different stages. The cloud isn’t all-or-nothing.
The move to the cloud is neither simple nor inexpensive, but the payoffs are significant. The cloud is vital to retaining a competitive advantage.
Now is the time
Walking the exhibit hall and attending the sessions confirmed what we have been hearing from our clients: Now is the time to move to cloud. A few years ago, you could take a “wait and see” approach with cloud. But with so many companies harnessing the power of the cloud for speed and agility, you can no longer afford to wait.