Level No. 3: Cloud foundations
At this stage, you'll need to begin establishing the foundation for an application architecture that will support what is likely to become an explosion in volume and scale. The reality is that virtualization lowers the barriers to application deployment. By reducing deployment friction, levels of demand and volume of application workloads can go through the roof.
At this stage, you should have a platform in place for managing the life cycle management of your virtualized applications; ensuring the consistency, repeatability and maintainability of virtualized application images, and providing a foundation for managing a vast increase in virtual machines and application images that must be managed.
Don't skip this stage. While you might be tempted to go right from experimentation to full-scale application deployment, you could create new problems if you don't have a solid foundation of procedures, policies and tools. Take your experimental applications and roll them out to a broader group of pilot users in the organization. Work through the process of requisitioning, provisioning and decommissioning applications on demand. Use your life cycle management system to create, configure and maintain virtualized applications. Get comfortable with all this before going on to Level 4.
Level No. 4: Cloud advancement
In Level 4, you either need to build your own internal cloud or commit to a commercially-available cloud. You're now ready for full-scale cloud deployment, albeit without some of the automation you'll see in Level 5.
Your application infrastructure should be solid at this stage and implemented across the organization. Get your virtualized applications into production, along with the processes, policies and procedures that you established in Level 3. Fine-tune and tweak them as you go along but, if your preparation work was good, these changes should be minimal.
Take a moment to sit back and congratulate yourself and your team for your accomplishments to date. Enjoy the view from the clouds!