The Path to the Cloud – Where to Start?
As hybrid IT and multi-cloud strategies become more common, the need to manage cloud services and providers as a portfolio, rather than as stand-alone purchases, becomes obvious. Organizations need to evaluate their cloud service as cross-functional efficiency investments with a holistic approach to risk mitigation and regulatory compliance.
Microsoft conducted a cloud survey January 2018, polling more than 1,700 respondents:
• Hybrid is common, with a total of 67 percent of respondents now using or planning to deploy a hybrid cloud. Many of those hybrid users have made the move recently, 54 percent of users in the past two years.
• Cost drivers, a consistent IT experience, and the ability to scale quickly were all given as important reasons for moving to hybrid cloud.
• Using the cloud for backup and disaster recovery was a key factor for 69 percent of respondents.
According to the survey, 49% of respondents did their first hybrid cloud deployment in the past year. Unfortunately, many of these organizations are also adopting cloud services ad hoc, department by department, rather than through a coordinated company-wide strategy. One reason for the ad hoc nature of cloud adoption may be the popularity of Software-as-a-Service applications that are easy to consume individually. Many IT departments are under pressure to migrate all of their organization’s IT applications and infrastructure to the cloud, but other departments are often not considered or don’t want to wait for the larger, bureaucratic process. We find impatient executives have opted to move forward with their own SaaS and Cloud projects without involving IT.
Without a larger strategy and compliance framework, many departments are wasting resources or putting critical data in a precarious position. Organizations need to take that critical first step when planning a cloud migration: the cloud readiness assessment.
Cloud Readiness and the Enterprise Assessment
In the frequently labeled ‘journey to the cloud’ IT leaders need to assess:
- Where are we now
- Holistic and complete view of applications, integrations, platforms, and processes required for business operations
- How many of these are already SaaS or Cloud-based?
- Which applications or platforms are our current biggest datacenter operating costs?
- Where are we headed
- Corporate growth plans (organic and acquisitive) and scalability demands
- Business efficiency demands (integrations and cross-functional software standardization)
- Enterprise Application roadmap
It’s critical to start with a frank conversation on these topics with every functional team leader or business stakeholder. Sometimes these can even be suppliers, vendors, or even customers that have integrations for just-in-time shipping or other logistics integrations. This allows us to form a good understanding of the systems involved, any operations or regulatory requirements, and the tolerance for risk (business continuity, security, or data residency).
The ‘Readiness’ Assessment
Without a larger strategy and compliance framework, many departments are likely to be wasting resources or putting critical data in a precarious position whether it be from a cybersecurity or regulatory perspective.
Within the Thrive Cloud Readiness consulting advisory, we:
- Rapidly assess your current cloud operational maturity (people, process, and technology)
- Validate business cases for applications and services that can provide financial and operational benefits from migrating to private-cloud, Azure, and other cloud platform services
- Develop a cloud service management roadmap for getting to your desired state
- Provide stack-ranked recommendations on procurement strategies, capacity optimization, vendor management, and cloud operating models
Some of the other elements of a cloud assessment include understanding and evaluating:
- Existing IT applications and infrastructure
- Security and compliance requirements
- Current and projected computing workloads
- Business processes
- Internal IT human resources (and required trainings/skills)
- IT budget forecasting inclusive of future business goals
- Estimated cloud costs
With the result including a migration plan with options for different cloud platforms or possible hybrid deployments.
Based on our conversations, we group the applications and datasets in to groups based on a number of factors (data residency, disaster recovery strategy, performance requirements, etc.) From there our advisory practice helps our clients to build a table that then builds a very tactical migration plan for all applications and services that meets the business requirements for scalability, reliability, and security.
Planning ‘The Move’
If you’re like most businesses, you’ll have discovered a handful of on-premise systems, cloud-based systems, and SaaS applications all with different backup platforms. From here, the Thrive technical team typically assists our clients to build the all-encompassing cloud strategy and roadmap. We find that the companies that simply ‘Lift and Shift’ their systems from their on-premise datacenters to the cloud often lose all cost synergies and frequently have a higher monthly bill.
The Thrive’s consulting practice builds a custom migration roadmap for each customer’s unique application, data, and business processes specifically to minimize waste and realize their cloud-migration thesis. No one wants to pay more than they have to for cloud services, yet roughly 30% of businesses admit they’re over committing resources and spending more than they need to. Our recommendation is to build a roadmap that encompasses all business units and creates a ‘shared services’ approach to cloud computing that enables both the business leaders as well as IT leaders to feel more comfortable knowing their systems are secure, scalable, and reliably backed up with all of the resiliency of the cloud.
Are there compliance or regulatory requirements that management care deeply about?
If you have a firm understanding of the regulatory or compliance landscape you’re operating in, the Thrive can help create a roadmap that helps leverage all of the benefits of the cloud with the security and regulatory requirements your business needs. “The Cloud” is not any more or less secure than your on-premise datacenters – if anything it might be more secure because there are huge teams monitoring infrastructure security that you may not have on staff currently.
Sometimes you can put together a compelling business case with important KPIs and measurables the executive team should care about, but they hear IT project and don’t want to spend the money. This is often the case where Thrive comes in and validates your cloud migration strategy and helps present to management. This can help give a second set of eyes to the plan, but also add external validation that what you’re saying is correct from trusted experts.
Cloud adoption is surging, and the cost, reliability, and security benefits are very real. Please reach out – we’d love to hear your challenges and tell you where we can help!