By: Pankaj Sabnis, Principal Architect – Cloud Computing, Blue Star Infotech
Cloud is on many companies’ businesses plans because it has the potential to speed up IT service delivery with easier deployment. However, enterprises need a cloud migration plan. As companies walk down the path to cloud, they find an ever increasing array of choices. Enterprises have the option of private, hybrid and public cloud. But migrating to the cloud is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a multi-layered set of choices that are unique to an organisation. Migrating to the cloud can be challenging however by following a pattern of established guidelines, enterprises can smoothly transition to the cloud.
What is Cloud Migration?
Cloud Migration is the process of moving an organization’s data, applications and other elements of the IT from on premise facilities to cloud. A transition to cloud involves the usual IT issues primarily raising from the fact that the data and applications are stored and managed remotely. When an organization embarks a cloud migration process, they need to consider many aspects like privacy, security, interoperability, business continuity and how the cloud embeds seamlessly into their IT organization. Cloud Migration is a journey rather than a process.
Addressing organisationals challenges by moving to Cloud
The cloud has revolutionized the technology landscape, and is providing enterprises new abilities to deliver technology solutions to their users. With the cloud, some of these challenges can be easily overcome.
From a financial standpoint, for those organizations interested in converting Capex to Opex, the cloud provides the biggest advantage as it works on a pay-per-use model
For those organizations requiring a more dynamic environment, the cloud provides flexibility and ability to quickly ramp-up with on-demand provisioning or change over without significant overheads or loss of time
By providing enhanced security and better performance due to the larger scale that a cloud provider operates in, it eliminates the spectre of ageing which most IT organizations face every now and then Cloud also eliminates the need for enterprises to maintain a large team of people for administrating the infrastructure
Methods of moving cloud
Cloud is a delivery model and there are multiple ways to move the IT Infrastructure to Cloud –
Co-location hosting: enterprises rent a space at the data center and manage it themselves
Using public IaaS cloud such as AWS, IBM, Microsoft: enterprises pay for the space and the provider manages the enterprises infrastructure
Subscribe to a SaaS application: the cloud provider manages both applications & hardware for the enterprise
Guidelines for enterprises moving IT Infrastructure to a third-party Cloud –
Selecting an appropriate Cloud model
While moving to cloud it is important to choose a model – Public Cloud, Private Cloud and Hybrid Cloud after assessing your business requirement. This depends on the control vs governance policy that an organization would want to have on its infrastructure, post moving to Cloud.
Evaluating Cost vs. ROI
Cloud computing follows a utility based pricing model. While appointing a vendor, one should assess the billing rate whether the vendor charges a fixed cost for initial set-up, mentions a minimum contract period, minimum charges for compute and storage monthly. Enterprises should look at cloud not only from cost saving perspective but also from the long run and how feasible it is for the organisation.
Selecting the right vendor
Selecting a right vendor is crucial as you are moving your server and your data to a third party. It is essential that you assess the right vendors and go through a rigorous evaluation process once you have decided to move forward.
Creating unambiguous Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
SLA’s of the cloud service provider needs to be analysed thoroughly by reading the fine print and all clauses should be clearly defined to avoid any confusion and determine what the minimum level of assurance you need, perform a cost-benefit analysis and make an appropriate choice.
It is very important for the provider to provide the relevant support services along with a clear picture of the probable outages that may occur. The vendor should have a qualified team of engineers who will be able to provide 24X7 support. Based on the criticality of the applications/data and the business needs, the right support option needs to be subscribed to.
Cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Windows Azure offer a graded paid support service.
Transparency and Simplicity
it is very essential that enterprises chose a provider who maintains transparency in terms of where the server will reside, what security measures will be taken, who all will be assessing the data from their end, and how do they authenticate those engineers, etc.
Security and compliance with international standards
Security is one of the key aspects while moving to cloud and enterprises must assess vendor’s security infrastructure and expertise. It is very essential for the users to be confident about vendor’s security approach, data centre reliability, number of engineers accessing the data and the like.
Observing industry specific regulations
The vendor must be compliant to industry specific regulations. E.g. if you are into healthcare domain providing services in USA, you need to comply to HIPAA and HITECH act, which are U.S. laws that apply to most doctors’ offices, hospitals, health insurance companies, and other companies involved in the healthcare industry that may have access to patient information (called Protected Health Information or PHI).
Transition to cloud promises many substantial benefits, and we’ve also seen that the benefits are not attained independently of challenges. Transitioning to cloud is not an overnight endeavor; it is a process that requires a holistic understanding of the challenges and ultimate impacts on your enterprise’s business.
Some enterprises may be looking at agility, some may look at cost optimization, while some may be looking at global expansion. Each of these needs will drive the cloud migration roadmap for an enterprise. The cloud adoption has to overall align with the Enterprise Architecture. Acquiring a solid understanding of cloud implementation is the first prerequisite to a successful transition to cloud. Armed with this knowledge, CIO’s will have a foundation for choosing the best way to handle implementation, as well as the right source for the cloud software that the enterprise needs.
Enterprises will focus on adopting SMAC to grow revenues through the new sales channels like mobile devices and social media while trying to bring in operational efficiency and an intuitive customer experience. Cloud will be the de-facto delivery model as CIO’s focus to deliver the services to its customers in a cheaper, faster and more intuitive way. Cloud migrations should start small and then grow. This can ensure reduced risks where-in you test the reliability of the overall system at each stage. Paying close attention to all of these factors will enable you to lay a strong foundation for your cloud strategy and reap the rewards of a successful implementation.