Many companies are facing a cloud dilemma. Their application development team has been touting that they can improve performance by moving their software applications to the cloud. The company leadership is saying, “We need to be doing some of this cloud thing I keep hearing about.”
Too often we hear about another critical piece of information processing that has been moved to a cloud services provider. Without a doubt, hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t begin or end their conversation with the word “cloud.” However, there are many business executives who are still “on the sidelines” and wondering where to even begin with regards to the cloud.
Getting started begins with understanding some basics about cloud computing:
1. Let’s keep it as simple as possible.
Cloud computing is actually a collection of disks, servers, switches, routers, firewalls and Internet connections, much like the datacenter you may be familiar with.
However, unlike running your own datacenter, you do not choose the hardware in the racks and depending on the types of services purchased, you may not choose the operating systems or sign the Internet connection agreements. You sign an agreement to provide the outputs of the datacenter instead of worrying about the inputs or the process. Stated a different way, cloud allows you to sign an agreement for the what of your datacenter, not the how.
Of course, the change in thinking and funding from how your datacenter adds value as an input, to focusing on the outputs that demonstrate the value data processing creates (the what), introduces very nontraditional thinking for every level of IT employee as well as a company’s management team. The actions to move value creation to a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) also introduce new thinking about risk. Understanding and mitigating cloud risks requires new knowledge. Whether training for a specific vendor’s cloud offering or learning how cloud fits into existing security frameworks, new information needs to be considered.
But, how do you get started?
First, start by listing out your in-house processes that would be difficult to replicate in a different location or by an existing service provider. Set those aside and focus your first cloud purchase on services that can be replicated outside of your datacenter.
Moving value creation to a cloud service provider counts as moving to the cloud; this is the path many organizations have chosen in order to test the cloud.
But, how do you find value-creating activities to consider for cloud? An accepted way to do so is to look at applications you want to refresh, consider if there is a cloud service available for that, and then to send in the Business Analysts (BAs). BAs trained in cloud service management can help you identify the low-hanging cloud fruit.
2. As you prepare to buy your cloud, work to determine the proper CSP’s scalability.
Do you need a local or regional cloud provider? Do you need a national cloud provider? Do you need a global cloud provider? These are all important questions to consider when determining CSP scalability.
Your current business footprint can provide insight. If currently, your geographic footprint is global and will remain that way in the near future, I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of thought in choosing a CSP that is regional or local. Additionally, if the outputs of your datacenter or value-creating application cross international borders, your CSP may need to comply with laws or rules of operation in the specific countries where your datacenters are located.
3. Make sure you know that your security is right.
Security is an area that you do not want to make assumptions in. A properly trained cloud engineer and a cloud-solutions architect should be engaged to ensure your data will be isolated, encrypted and serviced from redundant locations that meet your business Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
This is the most disconcerting part of cloud today. However, with proper training along with open communication between you and the CSP, this fear can be minimized or eliminated. This will help you on your way to buying your first cloud service and will move your organization one step further into the new IT future.
Just push the “easy” button.
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