IT Focus Area: cloud
January 12, 2017
How to Take the Chaos Out of Cloud
Cloud is now part of the fabric of our lives.
Ten years ago, we couldn’t imagine that so much of our daily lives would depend on cloud computing.
But we now use services such as movies on demand, online banking, and web conferencing without thinking twice about how they are implemented and delivered. As users, we don’t care if they are public, private, or hybrid clouds – we just want them to work, whenever and wherever we need them!
From an IT perspective, the journey to cloud is more complicated. Businesses are asking IT for new services with shorter lead times and lower costs each and every day. New and innovative services are constantly becoming available in cloud and disrupting the market. To remain competitive and keep your customers happy, you must be prepared to leverage this innovation. You need a cloud strategy.
Why Your Cloud Strategy Can’t Wait
A cloud strategy helps you quickly and easily harness the power of new technologies, so you can deliver the IT agility your business demands and maintain a competitive advantage.
When you consume services at the PaaS/database or SaaS/application layer, you won’t need to build them yourself. This saves you time and money–while you take products and services to market much faster. With cloud, you can also choose the service level that meets your business needs, rather than being constrained by infrastructure architecture and purchasing decisions made months or years in advance.
Cloud vendors can deliver these services to you on the most effective platform for the job, freeing you to focus on the service you need to support your business. Cloud IaaS can also help you respond to new business needs more rapidly, without the capital outlay previously required to pre-provision for growth.
Here are three questions that will help you jumpstart your cloud strategy:
1. Is this service cheaper, faster, or better in cloud?
The first step to a successful cloud strategy is looking at your existing IT services. Ask if you can get each service cheaper, better, and/or faster in cloud.
Also ask if cloud will free up your internal IT team, so they can trade mundane infrastructure implementation tasks for projects that will drive business value.
2. How will cloud impact my overhead?
Maintaining your own data center and hardware incurs a lot of overhead. Does running a service internally provide you with value that justifies the costs? Since cloud can give you greater value while cutting your costs, you should have a good reason for not using cloud services.
For example, you may decide you need to keep regulated data on premises to meet compliance or security requirements. You may also have services that run more efficiently on premises due to locality needs.
3. Which cloud mix is the best for us?
Public … private … hybrid …
You have plenty of choices when it comes to cloud vendors and delivery models. Weeding through all of your options can be overwhelming.
Below are some pros and cons for each model.
With public cloud, you benefit from shared infrastructure and the associated economies of scale. Public cloud often offers low-cost broad accessibility and operational efficiencies. However, these benefits can be a double-edged sword if they pose service-level and security challenges. And beware of creating service “islands” by moving individual services to cloud without considering their integration across your enterprise.
Private cloud addresses many of the challenges of data locality and privacy. It gives you more control over your infrastructure and your data, as well as facilitates data sharing between services. However, you may not gain as much efficiency with private cloud. Private cloud can be extremely cost effective – but only if your infrastructure is well utilized. You’ll also lose some of the operational efficiencies of cloud when you build custom solutions on premises.
Hybrid cloud can be the best and worst of both worlds. It gives you control where you need it and flexibility over your infrastructure, which can lead to greater agility and cost savings. But it can also pose challenges with data and application integration, as many on-premises private cloud technologies and public cloud services are not compatible.
The Key to Simplifying Cloud
To overcome cloud challenges, look for a vendor that offers consistent interfaces and common hardware and software technology both on premises and in cloud. They should have a broad portfolio of technology that makes the most of your data and applications, delivering new insights to your business through analytics.
Common technology simplifies your IT operations and lowers your costs while enabling you to quickly take advantage of new and innovative cloud services. They also let you easily migrate workloads from one area to the other as your ideal cloud mix changes over time.
Another advantage of using common technologies both on premises and in cloud is that your IT staff won’t have a huge learning curve. Consider obtaining “cloud insurance” by migrating your existing on-premises workloads to platforms from vendors with corresponding cloud offerings. Look for a vendor that lets you use common management tools both on premises and cloud.
You Don’t Need to Reinvent the Wheel
Many enterprises make cloud more complicated than it needs to be.
To quickly gain benefits from cloud, focus on simplicity. For most businesses, transitioning entirely to cloud won’t be an option for a long time, if ever. When you plan for a transition, recognize that you will have a mix of on-premises and cloud services for many years to come. You don’t need to undertake yet another rip-and-replace cycle. Look for cloud services that integrate easily with your existing IT services and support common technologies both on premises and in cloud.