Have you finally made the decision to move your business operations and applications to the cloud? If yes, then you are about to embark on a major technology shift for your enterprise. Adopting a cloud computing
service helps enterprises to address their business needs with efficiency and speed. Instantly scalable resources, pay as you go pricing, increased security and flexibility provides a strategic competitive advantage to your enterprise. However, transition from legacy to cloud-native application environments is an inherently complex process, often fraught with various challenges. Whether you are planning to shut down an entire data center and move to the cloud or integrate complex deployments such as hybrid and multi cloud architecture, it is essential to have a clearly defined strategy. In this post, we will examine the key factors to a successful cloud transition.
It is crucial to choose a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) that can best match your business, operational, security and compliance needs. With a myriad of CSPs available, it would be a tough task to single one out. In addition to the big players like Microsoft, Amazon and Google, the cloud service sphere is also crowded with smaller niche players offering bespoke services. Make sure to do your prepwork as it empowers you to evaluate possible cloud partners accurately. Each business organization has a unique set of business characteristics, operational needs and financial responsibilities. Yet, there are some principal elements to consider during service assessment. Evaluate their business health and processes, administration support, technical capabilities and security processes. Invest ample amount of time and effort in analysing such core attributes of a cloud service provider.
In order to ensure a smooth and successful transition to cloud computing, business enterprises need to fathom and analyze their requirements before hand and come up with an overarching cloud strategy. Having a sound understanding about the cloud deployment models enables utilizing the cloud effectively. There are four cloud deployment models available from which the business organizations have to make a pick - public, private, hybrid and community.
- Public cloud: As the name implies, this cloud deployment model is available for anyone to subscribe to and use. High deployment speed, low cost and flexible scaling options are some of the major perks of choosing a public cloud model. Lean and agile companies or SMEs which require on-demand scaling may opt for public cloud structure as it would ensure minimal operating costs and maintenance. Risks of compliance and data security are major drawbacks of public cloud deployment.
- Private cloud: True to its name, this deployment model is typically used by one company exclusively. Private cloud infrastructure can exist on-premise or off-premise and it can either be owned by the organization itself or a third party vendor. In addition to flexibility and scalability, private cloud systems ensure higher security and reliability. However, acquiring and maintaining private cloud solutions can be expensive. Business organizations with highly sensitive or mission-critical information or with rigid data obligations may opt for private cloud deployment.
- Hybrid cloud: As the name suggests, a hybrid cloud is an environment that combines different cloud service models, most commonly private and public cloud. This would allow business enterprises to reap the benefits of multiple deployment models at once. For instance, companies can choose to deploy their sensitive applications to a private cloud, while leveraging the robust computational resources of a managed public cloud. Hybrid cloud strategy provides the most efficient solution to businesses as it provides greater flexibility by moving workloads between cloud solutions as needs and costs fluctuate.
- Community cloud: This deployment model is similar to a public cloud, with a few unique differences. Business organizations operating within the same domain and sharing common interests and requirements may opt for a community cloud infrastructure. Computing resources of a community cloud environment are shared by multiple organizations and can exist on-premises or off-premises. Enterprises in joint ventures, research firms and academic institutions often opt for the centralized community cloud deployment.
In addition to the deployment models that host and store your data, there are three basic models of cloud service
used for different types of computing - Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Each cloud service category has its own perks and characteristics.
- SaaS:The most commonly-used cloud service model that is easy to use and manage. Providing the users with an access to a cloud-based software through the web or an API, Software as a Service model is available for purchase on a subscription basis. The most remarkable benefit of SaaS is the immediate availability of resources at minimal cost. JIRA, Salesforce, GoToMeeting and Dropbox are some examples of SaaS.
- PaaS: A cloud computing service model that delivers a framework for developers so that they can build custom applications online. Servers, storage, management, and networking resources for developing, customizing ,testing and hosting the applications would be provided by the cloud service provider. Choosing Platform as a Service approach allow businesses to focus on the business side of scalability and application development, without having to worry about underlying hardware with redundant resources. AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Google App Engine, Red Hat’s OpenShift and Heroku are some examples of PaaS.
- IaaS: The most flexible cloud computing service model that offers users with greatest level of control and power over software and hardware resources. Servers, networks, operating systems, and storage of the cloud infrastructure are provided to the users through a dashboard or an API. By providing data center infrastructure on-demand, IaaS approach allows businesses to scale their workloads as they move forward on the pay-for-use model. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE) and Rackspace are some examples of IaaS.
It is essential to have a detailed understanding of the high-level differences between different cloud environments
and service models so that it helps you choose the best one for your organization.
Security is the primary concern of many stakeholders while moving business data and applications to the cloud. It is quintessential to pay more attention to the security policies and standards of the cloud service provider. If your business operates in a heavily regulated industry such as healthcare, legal or ecommerce that demands confidentiality of user information, then make it a point to evaluate the service agreement of CSP. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act )
and PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) are two major examples of such regulations. How does the cloud service provider address your security concerns? Do they provide guarantee in terms of safety of authentication and authorization? Make sure to discuss all the security and compliance requirements with them in detail, before moving.
Have the management team and internal team involved in the cloud transition project as it helps in ensuring transparency. Migrating business data and resources to a cloud infrastructure is a high-risk project and that is why it is important to have the complete backing of management and developers from the start. Providing internal training sessions can prove beneficial for both business leaders and team members. Everyone in the organization needs to be in sync with the cloud transition and keeping the members closely involved helps in adding value to the organization. Engaging leadership and efficient governance approach throughout the procurement process helps in avoiding risks and unnecessary costs. When the key stakeholders and internal project management teams work together, they can give you alternative points of view and with the best solutions.
Cloud computing infrastructure provides the business organizations with a robust and efficient platform for global growth. And that is why it is essential to craft a top-level cloud strategy to meet the current and future requirements of your business. This is only possible when the key stakeholders and internal project management team collaborate effectively. You need to plan for buy-ins and integration plans in order to ensure technology extensibility. As your company continues to grow and scale, a cloud computing infrastructure will offer the flexibility and scalability it needs to cope with future growth and market changes.
Moving your business to cloud doesn’t happen overnight. Do your prepwork, create a transition plan and communicate with your entire team for a smooth migration. The cloud adoption journey of each enterprise is unique and your business requirements, mission and obligations will determine your path. Seeking the expertise and assistance of strategic partner
can make your cloud transition experience hassle-free.
If you have any queries regarding moving your existing IT infrastructure to the cloud, get in touch
for an expert consultation.