Moving a server into the cloud is an easy process both technically and commercially, but a great deal of understanding is required when you look to move your whole datacentre to the cloud.
The first thing that you must address is your organisation’s business drivers for moving to the cloud and their associated timelines.
There are two main drivers:
- Compelling event: Your existing datacentre facilities need to be physically restructured (i.e. merger or acquisition) or will not support the levels of availability that the business demands (i.e. constant underperformance and business continuity requirements).
- Strategic plan: Your organisation needs to restructure its costs to a new model for greater efficiency in its consumption of services and/or the flexing of capacity to allow more agility to bring services to market.
Strategic plan drivers allow for planning and provides the greatest opportunity for cost saving and long term business benefit. Here you need to fully understand and define your system requirements for IT connectivity, security, capacity, availability and continuity and ensure that they align with the core business requirements and goals. Always consider your users and their requirements for access and integration. There are a number of cloud readiness assessments available on-line that can help you determine your requirements and cloud status.
The key steps of any strategic cloud plan are:
- Categorise your systems into the cloud capabilities most appropriate to your organisation and work out how and when they will be migrated and managed. Standardising groups as soon as possible will aid the building of systems onto the cloud and their subsequent management.
- Determine the best cloud models for your applications, be it IaaS, PaaS or SaaS. This includes understanding the internal system development requirements and application roadmaps for these services.
- Don’t forget to consult and engage stakeholders so you fully understand the ramifications of any changes to operations and can schedule accordingly.
- Obtain and develop the correct skills to migrate and manage cloud based systems and their associated suppliers through internal training and recruitment. This includes cloud vendor options and appropriate licensing requirements.
- Make sure you fully understand the charging structures for your systems and your likely usage and align these with your business accounting and budgeting. This may need extra thought when managing multi-vendor models.
- Prioritise your systems for migration to the cloud. It is important to ensure that the balance of complexity and support is understood and planned.
- Decide whether to rebuild your systems or clone them as appropriate. This decision depends on your capabilities to perform the transformations and the existing functional state (i.e. are there existing issues that need to be rebuilt out?).
Once you have this information you can plan your journey to the cloud.
- Build the new systems in parallel and maintain business as usual for the existing production systems. It is important that the builds align with existing usage capacity levels (not existing configurations) to benefit from the cloud cost models. Once migration is complete, it is easy to expand servers and storage if needed.
- Build and test the support processes to manage the current states of the systems and their health. The testing should include full Disaster Recovery testing (i.e. DR orchestration).
- Include your user community in the migration to the cloud. Provide training and workshops where needed and involve key users from each area to test delivery and champion the roll-out.
Organisations with compelling event drivers do not have the luxury of this level of planning, being faced with the choice of a costly expansion project to stabilise existing datacentres (in facilities, infrastructure, processes and staff) and then plan a move to the cloud at a later date, or just move to the cloud unprepared and accept the risk.
In both instances Cloud Intermediation Services will help the migration to cloud. If there is a strategic plan, they provide the experience and knowledge to assist the customer in designing a proven strategy. This will by its nature be dynamic, as services and requirements will constantly change and hence a broad experience and expertise in market technologies is essential.
If the organisation faces a compelling event, a Cloud Intermediation service supplier will accelerate any transformation and can also move your systems into either a public or their own private cloud, depending on its suitability (capabilities and timeline), and then phase in the migration to the public cloud if and when appropriate.
The Cloud Intermediation supplier will charge an overhead to first understand your organisation’s system design and business requirements but has the advantage of greater knowledge and experience in where to put your systems for the best and most cost effective results, which will provide faster ROI. Intermediation services can also use multiple cloud suppliers and can leverage better base costs. If you choose to use different suppliers make sure you consider how your organisation will develop the skills needed to manage these services effectively.
Cloud Intermediation reduces risk in moving back from the public cloud if governance requirements change or systems just do not work in that environment. An intermediation service can be easily tailored to remove any inherent blockers from the standardisation and sharing of services until they have matured (in design or legislation) and can be moved back onto the public cloud.