Is your business ready for a game of cloud?

My post “11 ways your home office should go paperless” has been really popular and I mention the wonders of cloud. So just what do you need to know about cloud solutions?

When it comes to cloud solutions, IT decision makers are faced with a growing number of alternatives. From public to private to hybrid, and from IaaS to SaaS to PaaS, the wide selection of different options means that enterprises have to work that much harder to find the solution that will meet their unique needs. However, being spoilt for choice isn’t all bad. If anything, the variety and number of options should be seen as a sign that at least one of the alternatives will match your exact requirements.

Recent statistics imply that there is huge potential for cloud expansion in the not-so-distant future. In fact, an industry study from 2015 suggests that although 93 per cent of organisations are already either running applications or experimenting with infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), only 32 per cent of them are running more than a fifth of their applications in the cloud. So whether you’re only just getting started with your cloud strategy or already deep in the game, now would be a great time to double your bets.

cloud storage tips Joanne Dewberry

To help you do so, let’s take a look at some of the winning tactics for evaluating your cloud requirements and taking you cloud game to the next level.

Step 1: Count your cards

A good rule of thumb is to start by mapping out the connections between your applications and business activities. The comprehensive resource inventory that you’ll get as a result will help you validate priorities and service levels for each activity, making sure that you’ll have a full picture of the business at once.

Although this step may sound simple in theory, it is not uncommon for organisations to struggle with incomplete asset inventories and complex inter-dependencies in their IT applications. These common roadblocks can make manual assessments nearly impossible, in which case using an automated data collection and analysis platform is strongly advised.

Step 2: Shuffle the deck

Unfortunately there are no shortcuts for achieving the right mix of private, public and hybrid cloud. However, a detailed understanding of your individual application workloads and their business requirements will go a long way when trying to determine the right delivery method for each and every application. This suitability assessment will help you recognise the applications that are best delivered through your legacy IT environment, while assisting you in allocating the rest of your workloads to the most appropriate cloud solutions.

While we’re on the topic of different solutions, let’s resolve a common misconception regarding the hybrid cloud. Contrary to popular belief, mixing private and public cloud does not automatically mean that you’ll end up with a hybrid cloud. By definition, having a true hybrid cloud means limiting risks and increasing productivity by having full control over all workloads and resources.

Step 3: Play your hand

Not all service providers are created equal. When selecting the right public cloud partners, it is crucial to consider your unique business and technology. Paying attention to these structural considerations ensures that you’ll get the best performance for the best price, and that your architecture is ready for whatever the future may bring.

Although there are vast differences between the priorities and business requirements of different organisations, some of the most common selection criteria include performance, system support, service level agreements, APIs, cost and compliance. Choosing the right service provider from a large pool of vendors may seem like a daunting task, but the good news is that only a few of them are specialised in use cases like yours.

Step 4: Know when to fold

In some instances, hiring an outside consultant to assess your cloud needs can really speed up the process and help you get the desired results. For example, EMC’s Cloud Advisory Service helps enterprises maximise the business value of the cloud with a tool-based approach that is proven to be 50% faster than competing manual techniques.

Advisory services are typically good investments when complicated inter-dependencies and incomplete asset inventories are preventing the in-house staff from performing a comprehensive and realistic suitability assessment. Furthermore, cloud experts’ holistic understanding of available solutions enables them to recommend external service providers and architectures that will perfectly support your unique business.

By following this step-by-step cloud strategy guide, you should be well on your way to playing your cards right. Game on!

 

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