26 February 2015 blogs Alessandro Cardoso 6 min read
Cloud adoption is sky rocketing, no doubt about it. But when it comes to investments in Cloud, are we planning and assessing both business and IT requirements? Where does this all start?
As more information and operations move into the cloud, it shows that we have less resistance to concede to its value. Email and collaboration solutions have been the first applications to make the move, followed by CRM and data storage.
Not too long ago, when it came to technology, IT departments used to make their own investment decisions. Nowadays, the business is increasingly investing in cloud solutions, and these decisions are made by other business groups within organizations (e.g. HR, Finance, Marketing, Sales). That being said, IT departments still are and will always be huge influencers when it comes to purchasing technology and managing projects, making sure they meet the business groups’ requirements. The CIO and IT Managers are heavily involved in cloud solutions, which are providing significant advantages for the business. These advantages range from increasing the agility in adopting new technologies, to improving the ability for users to access critical business data and applications elsewhere.
Below are pinpoints that I recommend you to consider to find out the Cloud Readiness of your organization. I have divided these in 2 phases: Assessment & Discovery and Deployment.
In my opinion, ‘Assessment and Discovery’ is the most important phase, as it will help you understand your business goals while assessing the IT needs. The times where IT administator decided on their own where to invest is in the past. Having IT and Business work together on key goals and challenges builds a stronger case for cloud deployment.
Assessment & Discovery Phase
As research is required to make well-founded decisions, working with cloud and industry professionals is very important. What are the core reasons to move an application, data set or entire platform into the cloud?
A business case that will scale from your current platform into the cloud should be a priority.
Customers are now demanding that their data can be accessed from anywhere, anytime, and on any device. How capable will your cloud deployment have to be to deliver it to your end-users? How well can you ensure an optimal user experience in the cloud?
During the assessment it is important to survey the end-users as well to find out the hardware and resources they are accessing.
Review your existing infrastructure. The ability to replicate or interconnect your current infrastructure into the cloud will be directly impacted by your current environment. Cloud computing and mobility are influencing the way we do business. With that in mind, a cloud readiness assessment must scale both the physical and logical aspects of your environment. Are your applications Cloud ready? How old are the applications? Can sections of your infrastructure even run on a cloud platform? For replication purposes, do you need to upgrade your own virtual systems? How about monitoring?
Based on my experience, applications, their dependencies, how the end-user interacts with it and the data associated with it all are the most important considerations during an assessment. An understanding of application architecture is essential.
At the Assessment & Discovery phase, I recommend that you follow up with the following pinpoints:
- Is Cloud adoption significant to your organization’s business strategy?
- Is your IT staff skilled and trained? What commitment is there to cloud-related skills management and training?
- Are your processes streamlined and automated to support cloud adoption?
- Do you have stakeholder support and buy-in for cloud adoption?
- What is needed to ensure accountability and what policies do you need to pursue for stakeholder collaboration?
- How secure and compliant are your current IT systems? How would you define your overall security/compliance approach for cloud computing?
- How does your organization maintain IT system availability and resilience?
- How are you maximizing the utilization of your IT infrastructure by moving to a Public Cloud?
How do you select the optimal cloud option? With Microsoft Azure, you will have the choices of PasS and IaaS. The best tool to start with is the Azure portal. The hybrid approach, a combination of on-premises with Azure PasS or IasS will be the most common scenario for the modern business.
It is also important to have proper management and monitoring tools in place. Modelling the connections between on-premises and the cloud allows you to properly manage the environment and see at a glance when availability and performance problems arise. Ensure business continuity by monitoring and protecting critical applications. Identify gaps and opportunities for improvement.
The cloud can be a powerful platform. Forrester Research revealed, in a study commissioned by Infosys, that cloud adoption had become mainstream, with 81 per cent of respondents either using or planning to use mission-critical applications in the cloud in the next two years. The Infosys survey – based on input from about 300 C-level executives in large organisations across Australia, France, Germany, Britain and the US – also found cost-saving to no longer be the primary driver for cloud. “As cloud adoption reaches maturity, 77 per cent of enterprises consider agility as the key driver,” it said.
US-based Verizon Enterprise Solutions released its State of the Market: Enterprise Cloud 2014 report where it found that “Across industries and regions, many organizations are approaching the allocation of workloads with a ‘cloud first’ mindset”. It also reported that 66 per cent of companies were either “concerned or very concerned about the complexity involved in man managing and governing a hybrid cloud environment”.
Many organizations are already building their business processes around the Cloud capabilities, which ultimately will help align the IT capabilities directly with the goals of the organization.
Where should you start?
Microsoft released a free Cloud Assessment tool, which I recommend for thorough review of your business, operations, and technology to qualify their needs and requirements with focus on strategy, financial analysis, business alignment, infrastructure roadmap and applications to evolve your business and technology to a point where they are ready to move to the cloud.
It is imperative that you develop a detailed roadmap and business case to support your business and IT journey to the cloud. Make sure you engage the right partner.
About Alessandro Cardoso
Alessandro Cardoso is a passionate technology evangelist and a subject matter expert in cloud, virtualization and management. Author and speaker at key technical events in Australia and New Zealand. He has been a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional in virtualization since 2009. He is a well-known speaker at IT-related events such as TechEd, CNASI, Windows Road Shows and User Groups. He has consistently been a presenter for more than 10 years.
His product skill sets include Microsoft infrastructure technologies such as Hyper-V, System Center, Windows Server, SQL Server, Active Directory, Exchange, SharePoint, IIS and Forefront, and he also has strong knowledge in Quest Migration Manager, Linux Infrastructure, Networking, Security Solutions (such as VPN, Firewall) and VMware in complex and large scenarios; He has strong grasp of infrastructure and architecture solutions, IT management and industry-related datacenter processes, strategies, industry regulations and requirements.
He works for RXP Services Limited as a Technology Strategist and National Lead Cloud, Identity and Security.