Tips to Help Businesses Make the Most of the Cloud
Businesses looking to embrace the cloud sometimes try to find a solution that will allow them to make the transition from in-house services to the cloud as effortlessly as possible. Most of the successful examples that we witnessed in our practice, though, embrace the cloud as a driver of change, forcing the changes in the underlying IT processes and finding new sources of effectiveness and opportunity on the path of doing so. Acknowledging the necessity for change in order to get the most of the cloud is the first step that the organizations should make.
Identify business processes that can benefit from using the cloud.
For each business process, one should keep in mind the reason to use the cloud in the first place. Possible reasons for using the cloud include:
- Cost: for the workloads where volume of processing varies significantly from month to month or even day by day, switching to pay-as-you-go model can provide significant cost savings over the TCO of an in-house infrastructure;
- Business agility: most of the cloud offerings provide a great degree of automation, greatly improving turnaround time of IT-related processes
- SLAs: even though cloud providers may provide weak SLAs in one area, it can be actually compensated by much more generous SLAs in others. For instance, time to provision virtual hardware on the cloud is usually orders of magnitude less than to provision physical hardware through in-house IT departments.
Break down the IT processes and applications that support your business processes identified in the previous steps into classes according to the benefits that you want to receive from transition to the cloud. Depending on what the goal is, the approach will also vary.
Analyze the following items to avoid potential road blocks.
- Identify the data that is touched by each IT process. Is there any data that has to stay in-house for security or compliance reasons? You may need to change IT processes so the sensitive data is not affected by the transition.
- Analyze data access patterns. Data-intensive applications are usually not the best fit for a cloud, unless you plan to put all of your data in the cloud.
- Identify security domains. As with any external provider, one should always treat the cloud as a separate security domain. What is less obvious is that there are different security domains within cloud itself. Do you need to satisfy PCI DSS requirements? Can your cloud provider give you guarantees on the data boundaries?
- Determine availability and reliability targets. Not all of the cloud providers provide strict SLAs on availability and even when they do, those can be misunderstood (as happened with the notorious Amazon outage earlier this year). However, applications that are more tolerant to weaker availability SLAs can be a good fit.
Calculate total cost.
For some applications, cloud can actually be more expensive than an in-house solution. Licensing models of the major cloud providers usually work well for smaller players, but can be prohibitively expensive when the business starts to scale.
With a fast-growing industry such as cloud services, the landscape is doomed to change every year. Our general recommendation for the businesses looking to embrace the cloud is to have a trusted partner. Whether it’s a consultancy, an SI or a VAR specializing on cloud services, having a party that can help businesses to define and implement multi-year roadmap is something that can immensely simplify transition to the cloud.
Contribution by Stan Klimoff, Director of Cloud Services for Grid Dynamics.
Grid Dynamics, the authority on cloud computing and enterprise systems scalability, helps companies achieve better performance, higher availability, faster time-to-market and lower operational costs by scaling mission-critical systems. Using the latest advancements in grid and cloud computing technologies, the company helps customers turn monolithic applications into scalable services; and static, underutilized server clusters into virtualized compute clouds. www.griddynamics.com
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