Lao-Tzu nailed it when he noted that the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.
The trek to the public cloud is indeed a long one, and the question from the C-suite typically is, "Which step should I take first?"
To get the journey off on the right foot, it's critical to first get stakeholders on board with the promise and potential of the cloud. The model is pretty straightforward:
- Agility — The public cloud is nothing if not agile. You have access to the computing resources you need when you need them. IT projects can often be shortened from months to weeks, resulting in a quicker and more predictable time-to-market.
- Increased scalability — The cloud's incredible elasticity allows your company to react nimbly to changing business needs while supporting future growth.
- Reduced TCO — Total cost of ownership is reduced through improved resource consumption. With a pay-as-you-go model, you pay only for what you use (subscription rather than licensing). Both hardware and software operation and maintenance are the provider’s responsibility. At the same time, increased speed and agility create the potential for measurable improvements in infrastructure, apps and overall business effectiveness and efficiency.
- Greater security — Heavyweight providers such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure offer massive data center expertise as well as an army of full-time engineers and the deep pockets to keep security job one.
Get Your Footing
Navigating the path to the cloud requires some sure footing. Before you make the leap, consider these critical first steps:
1. Begin with the end in mind. Involve all stakeholders in identifying the problems to be solved—and the opportunities to be pursued. CEOs are typically open to new apps that grow sales and improve customer satisfaction. Cost containment and profit-building tops the list for CFOs, while CIOs typically want to see service level improvements.
2. Take stock. Once a consensus is reached on goals, conduct a high-level inventory of all the apps in broad use across your enterprise. Involve the appropriate teams and departments to dig deep and unearth utilities, databases and websites you may not even be aware of.
3. Map demand. Ask managers to map out expected growth from existing apps over the next three years, as well as for new apps expected to come online. Likewise, identify your typical traffic levels and spikes, and plan accordingly.
4. Determine the best cloud candidates. Go back over your list of applications to find the best candidates for cloud migration or implementation. Apps that experience spikey demand or involve parallel processing (i.e., batch) are a natural fit. Ditto for apps requiring disaster recovery or needing geographic placement.
5. Decide how far you’ll go. You don’t necessarily need to go all-in, all at once. You’ll probably want to leave legacy apps where they are, as they typically can’t benefit from cloud scalability. But, if you have a pending CAPEX investment to refresh infrastructure providing legacy apps, it may make sense to move them to the cloud. Other low-hanging fruit includes low-risk operations such as project management, file sharing and any other non-revenue generating applications. The beauty of the cloud is that you can start small and grow at a pace that suits you.
Pick a Solid Partner
Experienced trekkers know the value of having a seasoned Sherpa along. As you work through the issues and optimize public clouds, make sure you have a dependable guide matching you step for step. Develop a shortlist of possible managed public cloud partners, conduct your due diligence and let the journey begin!