Transitioning to the Cloud

One platform that has created the maximum disruption in the technology industry after the changeover from mainframes to PC based client/server computing in the 1980s is cloud computing.

The cloud model has a lot of benefits for its users, but it still represents changea change that can cause cultural issues especially because people are asked to do things differently.

What companies are realizing is that to ensure the success of their migration to the cloud environment, they need to take the time to phase the transition to cloud computing and help their IT employees understand the benefits that this movement can bring the table for them and the business.

Whatever the issues are with managing the transition to a cloud environment, CIOs and business leaders are keen to leverage the benefits of this transition through virtualization. However what these decision makers are realizing now is that while cloud services can be scaled up or down in a matter of hours once implemented, the actual establishment across the IT estate requires a considerable investment in time and effort.

In fact, the migration to cloud computing could be a major distraction and one can create far more damages than enhance business, if it is not managed in a planned and phased manner.

Many would argue that setting up a cloud environment for a single user is pretty simple. But the problem occurs when they need to work out how to transition their entire IT system to the cloud. A transition of this scale requires an adoption roadmap for each part of an enterprises application suite, middleware and infrastructure, as well as the data centers. Moving an application to the cloud requires effective integration with existing applications. All this adds up to a lot of effort, for those managing the transition.

Take for instance, the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system of a company that may be an excellent candidate for migration to the cloud. However if the sales executive need the system to check an order against inventory levels, or on securing a deal, send invoicing details to the finance systems, the CRM cloud will require seamless integration with specific core business systems. This integration is where a majority of the problems of transitioning to cloud occurs.

Handling Migration to Cloud

Unless yours is a 3-people company, migrating your IT system to cloud computing can be a really painful and time-consuming process that opens you to many new risks. However with a little foresight and planning, you can minimize the risks and achieve your return on the investment much sooner.

So what are the ways you can smoothen your transition to cloud? Here are 3 I will suggest.

  • Start Small: As you must do with so many other trends, dont end up buying into the hype, rushing into full-scale projects too soon and forgetting to bring common sense along for the ride. Define your goals for moving onto the cloud, identify potential obstacles, and determine what being cloud-enabled will do good for your organization in the long run. As with any new technology, it is important to test the waters before leaping in head first. A full-blown migration forces you to make decisions you probably arent ready to make yet.
  • Trust the Cloud Provider: There are concerns around security being a cloud weakness. It is important for you to know that the cloud service providers are better at managing security than you are. In fact, large and experienced cloud service providers have the resources to tackle data protection in-depth, better than you can. Also, if they do fail to deliver on their promises and you get swept up in a disaster, the large providers have the resources to bring you back to the business fast. However the onus is upon you to be aware of what kind of potential security threats your cloud setup can handle, so that you are better prepared to look for alternative arrangements. All in all, the big idea here is your commitment in doing the right amount of research before zeroing on a cloud service provider. If you are thorough with your research, youll be able to find the cloud provider whose security profile best matches your needs.
  • Plan for the Worst: You must have detailed disaster recovery and backup plans that include what to do if your cloud provider is down. Again, cloud providers are probably better positioned to deal with outages than you are, but most of the major cloud providers have suffered through a significant outage at one time or another. Be prepared just in case.

Why Take the Trouble to Migrate?

Most IT investment decisions have important basis ie, RoI. The decision to transit on to a cloud is no different.

In fact, if there is one technology trend that will dominate the next 5 years on the back of its capability to generate higher RoI for user companies, it will be cloud because this is what the internet was truly supposed to doto create a global computing grid, always-on, cost-effective, and easy to use.

Take for instance the benefits IndiaInfoline, a leading Indian financial services company achieved by moving to cloud. As reported in Forbes, the transition to cloud helped the company cut its annual IT costs by a factor of 5 in a time span when its revenues increased 36%.

Thats the power of cloud and thats the amount of RoI it can generate once you successfully migrate to it.

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