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Top 5 Secrets to Cloud Success

Top 5 Secrets to Cloud Success

In this article, we’re going to bypass why you should adopt cloud practice and digital transformation, instead focusing on how to implement the cloud effectively in business. As a Cloud Architect, one of the first questions I am asked by a prospective customer is ‘how do we transition services to the cloud?’ By now, most of us know why we should. But it’s the practical guidance that is missing. This article hopes to be informative at a practical level.

The second question I am normally asked is “and how much is it going to cost me?” Unfortunately, in many cases businesses don’t wait for the answer. For example, I often see strategic decisions being made based on cost-saving by reducing physical hardware. However, little thought has gone into how that translates to new cloud services.

Businesses regularly adopt a “lift and shift” approach to replicate their on-premise server infrastructure into the cloud, simply because it ends up being the quickest way to complete a migration. They may not realise that taking this approach can result in a higher cost than simply replacing the existing physical kit.

The aim of this article is to provide key pointers to understand how to get the most out of any cloud transition.

Cloud bright idea innovation light bulb moment

1. Transform, Don’t Just Migrate

We hear a lot about digital transformation. It’s a popular buzzword. It tends to mean different things to different people. For many, digital transformation means transforming the way their staff work. Perhaps enabling things like BYOD, flexible working, or more dynamic applications to increase productivity.

Importantly, it also means transformation of the backend services that users connect to. The traditional “client/server” model for applications simply cannot deliver the level of scale or flexibility demanded by many businesses today.

In addition, whilst “lift and shift” has its place in a cloud strategy, the true benefits of cloud computing – scalability, performance, rapid deployment and dynamic cost only really come into their own once you start using features like PaaS or micro services.

Therefore, it’s imperative to understand your business’ key short, medium and long-term goals, and think about how you can transform your application estate to meet those needs. This will then drive decisions on how you may need to either re-architect, refactor, or even replace legacy applications.

2. Rethink Your Connectivity

Providing connectivity to end-user devices such as laptops and tablets with accessibility to on-demand services in the cloud are part of what makes cloud so powerful. Therefore, transitioning to the cloud requires moving to a network that is connected at scale. Often this means rethinking things like internet breakout points to ensure fast local breakouts for devices.

However, greater connectivity also brings greater security risk due to more potential intrusion points. In addition, protecting data privacy both inside and outside the corporate boundary becomes a far greater concern as users become more mobile.

This means endpoint protection becomes a far larger consideration and must go beyond simply installing an anti-virus client onto user devices. MDM solutions should form a part of any transformation project to ensure devices are secured and can, if necessary be remotely wiped if required. DLP solutions should also be included to protect data effectively.

3. Understand your business’ goals and objectives

An IT manager’s goals and objectives may not necessarily match those of the business. Generally, they are focused on solving specific IT challenges rather than challenges of the wider business.

An example would be to implement a new storage solution to meet the increasing demands of storing ever growing amounts of data. However, if say, there is an underlying business need to share some of that data with partners or customers, moving that data to a solution such as SharePoint Online could better serve the business’ objective.

Understanding the business’ key objectives will help to plan future services more effectively as it will help to ensure those services fully meet the demands of the business.

4.  Have a plan

A key driver for many businesses to transition to cloud is ageing or failing legacy hardware. This often forces them toward a “lift and shift” migration, simply due to time pressure to complete the migration as quickly as possible.

As mentioned earlier, while this approach reduces overall migration time, transitioning to the cloud quickly, it can also lead to inflated costs and will miss some of the key benefits of cloud.

Take the time to understand your workloads and make informed decisions on designs upfront. Where necessary, running a proof of concept project to fully evaluate a workload running in the cloud will help to validate the solution.

If you need to lift and shift, consider it only as part of a phased transition, and plan for moving workloads onto alternative platforms.

Also, look to adopt specific services as an initial step. For example, that could mean simply using cloud storage as a repository for archive data. The more time you spend planning and understanding the platform up front, the better your experience will be.

5. Find a Good Partner

Finding an experienced partner will help avoid many of the pitfalls. Moving to cloud isn’t the same as running infrastructure on premise. A good partner will help guide you through the process and will help to ensure you are making the most of the services and features available to you. They should also help to ensure your services are optimised on an ongoing basis, not just at point of migration.

In Conclusion

The cloud is an invaluable instrument to transform and innovate your business for the better. As with any platform, utilising it effectively requires strategy and planning. With the above tips, migrating to the cloud becomes an opportunity instead of an obstacle.

Mark Steen

Principal Cloud Architect

Oct 11, 2018

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