As the hype curve around cloud computing continues north, it’s increasingly easy to get lost in the pressure-perceived or real-coming from all sides to quickly formulate a strategy to leverage today’s IT super trend.
The promise of benefits such as fast time to implementation, cheap infrastructure in a pay-as-you-go model, substantially reduced electricity and overall IT costs-and a host of other tantalizing would-be benefits-can seem overwhelming. But as the old adage goes, cooler heads will prevail.
After listening and providing counsel to dozens of IT executives (and those deeper in the trenches) at various stages of cloud implementation, I have identified a set of key considerations among those successfully incorporating cloud into a comprehensive IT strategy. While success in the cloud is certainly not limited to preparing against the following considerations, taking the time to think through them will put you in a better position to help make cloud successful at your organization.
IT management and automation
While one of the benefits of cloud is capacity on-demand without having to deal with infrastructure and scalability issues, moving applications and data to a cloud infrastructure does not eliminate management and automation responsibilities. Rather, it heightens them. Many of the tools (or combination of tools) used to manage and automate applications and business processes currently running in physical and virtual environments do not translate well to a cloud model. In fact, many IT organizations experience a loss of visibility into and control over applications that are moved to the cloud.
This loss of control puts service-level agreements (SLAs) and governance strategies at risk. It often increases the need for manual management, jeopardizing the intended efficiency gains. After all, SLAs are core to any IT organization.
Successful Cloud Migration
Successful cloud migration
Successful cloud migration begins by ensuring that your management and automation tools are able to migrate to the cloud, along with your applications and business processes. Organizations face the need to add advanced virtual and cloud-enabled tools that can be bolted onto an existing tool set. Or, a more strategic approach to employing an enterprise solution that is truly platform agnostic is necessary. In any case, the IT management and automation approach must be considered.
A platform-agnostic enterprise solution can enable advanced processes such as predictive and proactive work load management, and help IT organizations take full advantage of the elasticity benefits the cloud provides. However, proactive management initiatives currently underway in the physical environment require the right solution to bridge to virtual and cloud environments.
Too often, application groups aren’t thinking about cloud dynamics, but they need to be. Most groups that are installing or maintaining an application don’t care where it’s running, as long as SLAs are met. But they do enjoy the immediate elasticity advantage that comes with leveraging the cloud. However, careful management when tapping the cloud is necessary to control costs. Cloud-ready management and automation tools can help manage costs and provide proactive and predictive management capabilities that can help applications groups ensure that financial goals and SLAs are met.
Application awareness not only monitors the immediate needs of the application, but can also predict load requirements based on previous needs and other factors. This enables proactive load management using existing physical and virtual resources, as well as automated engagement of the cloud, as necessary, to keep applications running optimally. Predictive capabilities of cloud-enabled tools can also ensure rapid, automated reconfiguration of infrastructure to ramp down engagement when the infrastructure is no longer needed. This is one of the key areas where cost savings are realized.
Current cloud providers can help handle unplanned work loads by making infrastructure available immediately. Application awareness allows you to proactively manage supplemental infrastructure based on planned and unplanned work loads. Make sure that, as you make the move to the cloud, your solution provides visibility into your application work loads to proactively manage cloud engagement. The ability to proactively manage the ebb and flow of daily work loads will save money and resources.
Any bad habits that exist in the on-premises and virtual environments tend to come along for the ride with the jump to the cloud. The tendency to overprovision is one of them. Make sure your management and automation tools can help you visualize and utilize all of the capacity that exists in physical resources and in the virtual environment you’ve invested in (and worked so hard to develop). A private cloud that helps utilize your existing virtual capacity is oftentimes an organization’s first foray into cloud computing. Again, when moving to the public cloud, new management and automation tools are often necessary.
Making the move to the cloud opens your systems to new security threats and data retrieval issues. System administrators should map out a contingency plan to back up and protect, as well as find a way to access all data when necessary.
For example, what if legal discovery becomes an issue for your organization and the organization’s e-mail system or portions of the file archive is now running in the cloud? Who is responsible for discovery and what options will be available? Is your organization held legally responsible or is the cloud provider?
When data no longer resides on-site, it is important for companies to realize that steps must be taken to put a plan in place, with clear delineations of responsibility for data retrieval. Know your limitations, know your internal policy and know your legal obligations.
Four Top Cloud Considerations
Four top cloud considerations
In summary, if you want your organization to be successful in the cloud, remember the following four tips:
1. Moving to the cloud does not eliminate management and automation responsibilities.
2. Finding a tool to manage applications in the cloud will not only cut costs, but will provide proactive and predictive management capabilities.
3. The key to successful cloud utilization lies in management and automation tools’ capability to provide visibility into ongoing capacity.
4. Have a backup plan to protect and access data when necessary.
Ken Jackson is President of Americas at UC4. Ken is responsible for all UC4’s operations in the Americas including sales, marketing, finance, R&D, human resources, support, and operations. Ken brings more than 20 years of software experience to UC4. Prior to joining UC4, Ken served as senior vice president of North American sales at ASG Software Solutions. Before joining ASG, Ken served in sales and management roles at CA, IBM/Tivoli and Candle Corporation. He can be reached at [email protected].