While almost every business professional agrees that the cloud should play some role in enterprise IT, determining what that role is and how to implement it can prove to be a little sticky. Often at the heart of the issue is what to do with proprietary software and whether it’s better to simply replace it with cloud-based software rather than try to refactor it for the cloud.If your management team is considering how to integrate the cloud with your IT infrastructure, we suggest you ask yourself the following six questions before you settle on what to migrate and how:
- What exactly would you like the cloud to do for you?
The cloud offers a myriad of benefits that include reducing or eliminating premise IT infrastructure, upgrading and expanding computing and data storage capabilities, increasing IT flexibility and scalability, and more. What are your company’s short-term and long-term goals and how do you envision the cloud supporting organizational efforts to attain those goals?
- What kind of cloud architecture will you need to support the software you’ll be using?
This requires looking at your organization’s control, security, and accountability requirements as well as the need to migrate any proprietary apps to the cloud. Are any custom or highly-modified apps so mission-critical that they must be moved to the cloud regardless of the time, money, and effort involved? Instead, can they be replaced with standard cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps?
The answers to all of this will help determine whether your migration requirements are best met with a public cloud service model operating on shared resources, a private cloud ecosystem, or a hybrid of the two. Straightforward SaaS in the public cloud is often more than acceptable for your average enterprise operations. For companies that need something a little more custom, private and hybrid architectures can utilize private data storage and accommodate customized software configurations unique to the user’s needs.
- When and in what order should data, apps, processes, and workloads be moved to the cloud?
If possible, start with non-critical apps and operations to get your feet wet, then progress to mission-critical software and processes once your IT department and employees are more comfortable with operating in the cloud. A slow start is often faster and more efficient in the long run than jumping in with both feet right away and having to deal with the major mistakes and setbacks that could result.
- What about security?
Data security in the cloud has improved exponentially since the early days of cloud services but still, companies should always be concerned about the security of their off-premise data. What is your risk threshold? Data vulnerability requires evaluation of the physical security of the datacenter, network security including local encryption, redundancy, and privacy issues, such as HIPAA compliance.
Bonus Offer: Download the Cloud Security Whitepaper.
- How will you handle business continuity?
Cloud services offer a range of economical and high performance business continuity solutions. You will need to review alternatives and implement an approach to your requirements. And since your company’s main IT system and the people running it will no longer be on-premise, it’s important to identify and coordinate your internal points of contact with the cloud services provider to ensure quick problem resolution.
Likewise, it’s important to have a succession or redundancy plan to protect your business and your customers in the event that your provider is unable to provide service for any length of time.
- What kind of cloud service provider will you need?
This question is closely related to #2. As we discussed in a recent blog post regarding cloud service models, there are three basic levels of service to consider.
- SaaS, in which the user simply pays for a software subscription and accesses it through a web browser
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), which virtualizes the premise infrastructure in the cloud, providing the user with a flexible, virtual operating environment with which to manage and maintain their own IT operations
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), which provides a virtual environment in which users can develop, run, and manage their own applications.
Once you have the answers in hand to these six questions, you’re ready to determine whether to migrate your legacy apps and risk running into stumbling blocks modifying premised-based software for the cloud or to replace them with available cloud-based solutions.
For those who are contemplating a move to the cloud, our eBook titled A Guide to Adopting Cloud Computing for IT Leaders may be of interest. Of course, you may always reach out to Boston Data Group for a personalized discussion about the economics of migrating your IT infrastructure to the cloud.
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