Cloud Computing - How to prepare for the big move

Gone are the days when you had to email files to yourself to work from home or from your cab while travelling. Today, cloud services are growing rapidly. Enterprise customers have shed their initial inhibitions regarding cloud computing and have started using cloud environments for a wide range of applications. More customers are buying and existing customers are shifting more of their workloads to the cloud due to the reliability and security that comes with cloud computing.

Cloud computing has revolutionized the business world. It allows businesses and individuals to easily access information stored at a remote site. Overall cost and computing power are reduced when companies and individuals store their information on remote servers. With a rise in the demand for (Iaas) Infrastructure as a service and (PaaS) platform as a service, the demand for cloud infrastructure has also increased. Yet, realizing their cloud growth ambitions has been a challenge for many organizations.

Types of Cloud

Businesses, typically use cloud services for storage, website hosting and customer relationship management (CRM) applications. Cloud computing models are classified into various types. For choosing the model that is most appropriate for your business, you need to understand the various cloud computing models that are available. 

Based on the location, we can classify the cloud as :

  • Public cloud: The whole cloud infrastructure exists on the premises of the cloud provider. Your data is stored in a public environment used by multiple companies. With this option, you can easily scale your infrastructure.
  • Private cloud: The computing infrastructure is owned exclusively by a single organization. Due to this, the private cloud has a high level of security and control level. The infrastructure may be on or off-site hosted by a third party.
  • Hybrid cloud: This solution is a combination of the best features of public and private cloud. In a hybrid cloud model, the most important and sensitive data is stored in the organization’s own computing infrastructure whereas the secondary data is stored elsewhere.
  • Community cloud: A community cloud is shared and used by a specific community of consumers who have common interests (eg: security requirements, policy considerations etc.). It is owned, operated and managed by one or more organizations in the community and may exist on or off-premises. 

Based on the services that the cloud offers, we can classify cloud computing as:

  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): This is the most basic category of cloud computing. The vendor provides the clients access to storage, networking, servers and other resources on a pay-as-you-go basis.
  • Platform as a service (PaaS): In this category, the service provider supplies an environment on-demand where users can develop and deliver software applications. The purpose is to create web or mobile apps without the need to manage the infrastructure needed for development.
  • Software as a service (SaaS): This is a cloud computing offering wherein the service provider delivers software applications over the internet based on demand. Users need bot download the applications on their devices. Users can access applications through the web or API.

The business landscape is changing with more organizations moving or planning to move to the cloud. Many organizations now use remote workers, multiple offices and numerous computing tools and platforms. While many organizations rush to adopt cloud computing, it brings forth its own challenges. According to research conducted by McKinsey & Co., IT architectures can become more expensive and complex in moving to the cloud. The process of making the shift is far from easy. Let’s have a look at the challenges faced by enterprises in cloud adoption.

Challenges in cloud adoption

  • Costs: Migrating to the cloud can help increase efficiency and streamline processes in the wrong run. But getting there takes time. Apart from the immediate cost of actual migration, there are various additional costs involved. Migration requires rewriting applications for the cloud, training users, managing bandwidth costs etc
  • Security: The cloud provider cannot handle all the security aspects and governance capabilities. You need to figure things out and translate your security posture to the cloud. This becomes a challenge since companies have to obtain third-party security reports that attest to the security of the cloud organization. 
  • Resistance to change: For any change to be effective, people and processes should also change. A cloud migration causes a lot of disruption. Hence smaller businesses can make this transition much more easily. The bigger enterprises would have to develop key strategies to ensure a smooth transition.
  • Lack of a defined strategy: Most companies struggle with cloud migration due to the lack of a defined strategy. Your strategy should be aligned with your business goals.

While there are many obstacles known to derail your cloud journey, finding a way out of them will help to increase agility, cost transparency and service quality. Proper strategy and planning can help you achieve the promise of the cloud. 

How to make the shift to cloud computing

Cloud computing has revolutionised the IT industry. As cloud computing grows exponentially, companies that are not on the cloud run a serious risk of obsolescence. So, how can you make the shift? Read on to find out:

  • Prepare your organization for change: You need to develop a shared vision of a cloud business case that includes the benefits, goals and objectives of cloud computing. Since migrating to the cloud is a multi-year undertaking, you’ll require constant help from business-side application owners and their teams. This requires everyone to agree on the basic definitions of the cloud.
  • Prepare your budget: Cloud migration cannot be accomplished through business-as-usual budgets. You should plan for a dedicated, multi-year transformation budget to fund the migration. A clear financial analysis will help you to compare the before and after costs. You can reduce excessive recurring costs by optimizing your applications, efficient infrastructure utilization and improved orchestration. 
  • Selecting the right vendor: A decade ago, only a few cloud vendors existed. Today, we have a vast ecosystem of providers consisting of both new vendors and the stalwarts competing against each other. Selecting a particular cloud vendor can be distressing. Adherence to business standards, migration support, clear definition of service deliverables, reliability are factors that can help you choose the right vendor.  
  • Architecture: Another burden is choosing the right computing architecture. The choice undoubtedly depends upon your business and technology service requirements. You’ll have options like open source or proprietary technology, private, public or hybrid cloud. Prolonged debates at these junctures can increase costs and produce massive delays.
  • Organization structure: To unleash the full benefits of the cloud, your organization needs to adopt agile practices with close collaboration, high visibility and accountability across all teams. A flat organization structure will help achieve this. You need to assess the gap between the available talent and the needed skills. Then take measures to close this gap through training and strategic hiring.

Execution

This is the most challenging aspect of any cloud migration. Even after all the preparation you still have the herculean task of moving all your applications to the cloud. This is typically a 3 to 5-year journey with huge investments of time, money and energy.

To begin, you need to check if the applications are ready for the cloud. In other words, you need to choose the platform that suits your application the most. You can also start your journey with minimum applications as pilots that address immediate business needs. Then you can prioritize the remaining applications in a sequential manner and migrate them subsequently. Studies have shown that the migrations that take the longest to complete show strong ROI. So, you need to continuously pursue those difficult ones with sustained momentum to enable the slow but steady shift to the cloud. 

Conclusion

Cloud technology represents a fundamental shift in our business mindset. Companies that choose not to adopt this technology would struggle to retain talent and take advantage of modern disruptive technologies. Yes, cloud migration is nothing but complex. Successful migration requires governance, dedication, structure and discipline. A strategic iterative approach towards implementation, exploring hybrid cloud solutions, choosing the right BI SaaS partner will ensure that the benefits of the cloud will far outweigh the challenges.

Is your organization already on the cloud or are you planning to make the big move? Do share your experiences with us. We’d love to hear from you.