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Gartner predicts that up to 60% of organizations in the world will use the cloud by 2022, which is double the 2018 adoption rate.
Like other technologies, the cloud is an enabler of digital transformation. And I want to show you how the cloud can transform your organization.
Meanwhile, some executives get carried away by vendor hype, and engage to move their organization’s IT infrastructure to the cloud.
And this is often driven by misunderstanding of certain facts, like the perception that business will be cheaper to run on the cloud.
Or maybe the boss just comes back from a trip and says “Oh, we need to do this, the future’s in the cloud!” And the cloud suddenly becomes priority.
It’s better to stay on-premise than move to the cloud for wrong reasons
While the cloud presents significant opportunities for savings, some organizations rush to the cloud without assessing what exactly will become cheap, and by when they should expect these benefits.
On the other hand, a lot of people have an exaggerated fear that the cloud is not secure. And they’ll remind you of that famous day Amazon cloud was down.
However, the growing number of organizations using the cloud today suggests that businesses are disproving these misleading perceptions.
In fact, cloud vendors have a lot more resources to throw at building security any single company would ever be able to do, in the first place.
So I’m about to help you understand what the cloud is, the benefits you get from the cloud and how you can plan a cloud migration.
First, let’s demystify the Cloud
Keeping all the buzzwords aside, imagine you had to run a private grid to supply electricity to your home. Then you’ll have to buy and install the necessary heavy equipment.
And suppose you run short of power because you bought an extra refrigerator, then you’ll surely buy more equipment to increase the capacity of your private grid.
At the same time you need technical competence to handle such changes.
Well, the reality is that most homes are plugged to a central grid. And pay only for what they consume.
The cloud is the central grid for IT infrastructure
So if you’re not yet on the cloud, then I guess your organization manages an IT system made up of hardware and software.
And when you anticipate capacity shortage, your CIO adds more storage, network and processing capabilities. This often means buying more hardware, and software licenses.
In fact, everything happens like you’re running a private grid, but with IT.
Meanwhile, cloud computing is like plugging into a central computing grid instead of generating your own computing power.
For instance, cloud vendors like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and IBM run large data centers around the world.
And they’ve made available a virtual environment where any business can create IT processes and even develop and host applications, without any need to buy hardware or software.
In fact, the network of computers providing storage, networking, and processing resources that businesses can access through the internet, is what we call the cloud.
Benefits of the cloud go beyond cost savings
When you move to the cloud, you benefit from:
- Cutting costs. That’s to say you pay only for what you need. You don’t have to buy or maintain IT infrastructure. So you transform capital expenditures to operating expenses.
- Agility and Scalability. You can flexibly scale your business up or down. In other words, when you need more capacity, all you have to do is send the vendor an email and they get it done.
- Accessibility and Availability. Services on the cloud are accessible everywhere in the world. And cloud vendors work hard to keep them available as per service level agreements.
- Security and Privacy. Vendors invest a lot of resources to secure the cloud. And you agree in the cloud contract how you want your privacy to be managed.
Secondly, choose what level of control you want in the cloud
The cloud is flexible. And you can choose the level of control you want.
For instance, you can choose between three offers.
Suppose you want the cloud to host only your applications, so your customers can access them anywhere in the world, then the (SaaS) option will be ideal.
Here, you can host applications and the processes that run your day-to-day interactions with customers.
For instance, you could migrate the email service, apps and website, order processing, customer service, and marketing processes to the cloud with a SaaS subscription.
And so the cloud vendor manages storage, network compute, and physical resources, while you focus on your applications and data.
Suppose for instance, that you want to move your product development process to the cloud.
Then the PaaS option offers an environments with the tools your development team needs, to collaborate wherever they are.
As a result, you have control over your data and applications while the cloud vendor manages the infrastructure – storage, network and physical resources.
Then suppose you you want to have control over the infrastructure. That’s to say you just want to rent hardware and decide how to manage the network, storage, compute, application and data resources.
Then the IaaS will be ideal to give you this level of control.
Here the cloud vendor full provides and manages the physical infrastructure, gives you some control over network and storage, and you have full control over computing, applications and your data
Over time, new players have built on these three option, and today you here of Database-as-a-Service, HR-as-a-Service, Security-as-a-Service, and so on.
Thirdly, choose among the four cloud deployment modes
Let’s look at the differences between deployment modes.
- Public mode. Here you access the vendor’s data center through the internet.
- Private mode. This one is like your private data center, and you access it through a private network. It can either be hosted on the vendor’s data center or on-premise at your organization.
- Hybrid mode: combines the public and private modes. Usually business-as-usual and highly secured applications run in the private cloud, while customer facing applications run in the public cloud.
- Community mode. This is where a group of tenants share virtual infrastructure. Such tenants usually have something in common – it could be private policy, or security policy.
And lastly, the 7-step plan to plan cloud migration
Just like other digital technologies, adopting the cloud is not sufficient.
If you see cloud as a relocating of your IT resources, then you’re simply outsourcing. And your organization will continue to run the way it was, except for the fact that a cloud vendor will host your information system.
But if you want to leverage the capabilities of the cloud as an enabler to transform your organization, then you should consider all aspects of the organization that will be impacted. Not only IT.
In other words, the cloud helps you to build a new system. But this should be driven by corresponding changes in strategy, structure, management style, staff, skills, and shared values.
Here are the seven steps you can follow to plan your cloud migration.
1. Decide what should move to the cloud
Mission critical applications that have a lot of dependencies should first be kept in-house.
On the other hand, migrate the applications or processes you can afford to keep unavailable. For instance the email, SaaS version of ERP, storage and new apps.
2. Check out for any restrictions
Your country or region may have specific data location regulations. For instance, financial data created in Germany can’t leave Germany.
Also, some software licenses may restrict you from migrating the software to the cloud. Likewise you should check the security policy of cloud vendors and decide the trade-offs you’re willing to make.
3. Build a business case
This will help to resist the hype and fears, and false impressions about cost savings.
And so you’ll tell the executive the right reasons for moving to the cloud, which are not necessarily what they think. And this business case should align with your organization’s digital transformation business case.
4. Acquire the skills and experiences you need
You’ll need new skills for reconfiguration and migration, monitoring resource usage, selecting the right cloud vendor, managing the relationship with the new vendor, and so on.
So you can plan employee trainings. And new hires too.
5. Take time to go through the cloud agreement
Vendor selection should be guided by your requirements.
But unfortunately, cloud contracts are prepared by vendors. And some clauses show their unwillingness to take some responsibilities.
And so you need to understand those disclaimer clauses, the pricing model, the service level agreements, key performance indicators, and other key clauses.
In subsequent articles, I’ll get into the details of some key clauses you’ll find in cloud contracts. So add your email below this article and I’ll make sure to notify you when the article is released.
6. Align the organization structure
What’s the right structure to govern your transformed organization?
In other words, which new roles will be created? Which roles will become obsolete? What will be the new reporting relationships?
Often, these type of changes bring frustrations, especially from those at the losing end when power shifts. Also, some IT people may see their skills going obsolete.
And so you must overcome these five barriers to increase your chances for success.
7. Adopt a technical approach to migration
It should be clear how and when you shall move data. And there should be pilot migrations with the ability to revert.
That’s to say you should adopt an experimental approach to migration.
And most importantly, you should plan how to integrate between the resources in the cloud and those kept back in-house.
So now I guess you understand why moving to the cloud should only happen for the right reasons.
Also, we’ve explored the problems the cloud can solve, and how you can plan the migration journey.
And more is still to come in subsequent articles.
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