Cloud services and computing are rapidly becoming a major part of how organizations operate, manage data, and perform digital transactions.  IaaS (Infrastructure as a Software) provides broad opportunities for small companies and mid-size enterprises to take advantage of capabilities that would normally be unavailable or too costly within an integrated backend system.

The benefit of moving to a cloud includes a significant reduction in costs by utilizing shared resources, greater efficiencies with on-demand usage, and a wider pool of services for auto-scaling.

The greatest challenge is understanding the range of cloud services in order to select the best framework for both your current state and future state.

Key considerations are:

  • What is the business case for modifying the current infrastructure by partially or entirely moving to the cloud?
  • What are the critical requirements that must be met based on the company’s business model, technology stack, data composition, system complexity, budget, resources, etc.?

To fully define needs and essential services, start with an audit and evaluation of the following:

  • Storage and Usage Patterns
  • Interface
  • Applications and Computing Needs
  • Databases
  • Operations
  • Systems and Processors
  • CPU, Physical RAM and Virtual Memory
  • Network and APIs
  • Users and Accesses
  • Governance and Security

In the assessment, make data a priority. Determine where data will reside, how it will be handled at rest and in flight, and requirements for scaling over time.

Operationally, there are many factors to weigh, such as:

  • Legacy System and it’s interaction with a Cloud
  • Migration Process [i.e. code, data, assets, resources]
  • Configuration and Provisioning of the Platform
  • Form and Size of Storage [i.e. distributed, flat, binary, persistent]
  • Management and Operations
  • Performance and I/O Speed
  • Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery
  • Automation and Abstraction
  • Alerts and Notifications
  • Security and Encryption Features
  • Modification of Services
  • Installation and Deployment
  • Change Management, Reconfiguration, and Updates
  • Monitoring, Reporting, Testing and Validation
  • Elasticity, Growth, Gap Coverage, Scaling

Among a multitude of things that must be weighed and substantiated, there must be an in-depth look at business components that will have to communicate with the cloud (i.e. mainframe, operating system, network, applications, databases). Consider how to best balance the activity between your legacy system and the cloud for processing, computing and provisioning.

More strategy questions:

  • How do you create value and use this opportunity to overcome inefficiencies?
  • How will you architect the data to optimize velocity and veracity?
  • How will you develop a migration and deployment plan that fits your timeline and resources?
  • What should be the driver of your model selection (i.e. hybrid vs. public cloud, serverless vs. container system, block vs. object storage)?
  • Will you gain more building blocks for greater organizational agility and control?

Make the discovery process an imperative. Gather leaders and experts within numerous business units to participate in the exercise of assessment, which must include evidence-gathering, verifications and demarcations.  To achieve the best possible outcome, you’ll want several trusted voices sharing their operational insights, use cases, service and access needs, interface requirements, performance expectations and vision for future demand.

As a final note, make costs a part of your decision-making. A company must define all related expenses – quantitative and qualitative – in order to affirm the value of the plan. Capture ‘soft’ costs, such as additional talent, training, adaptability, ease of use, and operational changes, and ‘hard’ costs, which may involve level of support, amount of storage, bundled services, capacity, number of users and permissions, licenses, and migration fees.

Be prudent but also bold. Through setting out requirements, strategic planning and valuation, you can ensure the effort is worthwhile and cost-savings will be realized.

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