There are plenty of good reasons to consider moving to a public cloud, not the least of which is the potential for greater speed and flexibility in rolling out new applications. Cloud computing can also cost less since companies pay only for what they use and it can offer stronger security.
Looking and planning before you leap, however, is critical to reaping these and other planned-for benefits. A disciplined approach is essential for making the most of cloud services.
Begin at the beginning
Companies should start by identifying the problems they want to solve or opportunities they want to pursue by moving to the cloud. Increasing revenue by building a new web app to reach prospects and customers may call for different cloud capabilities than wanting to avoid capital investments for more storage or new equipment. Once the goals are established, it’s much easier to find the right cloud service rather than starting with a cloud provider and try to fit it to the business needs.
Create the right processes
Shifting some IT operations to a cloud provider requires new processes for governance, tracking and billing. The finance team will need to prepare inventories, review invoices, and possibly charge back to specific departments. The IT team will need to work out important issues, too, including who will be in charge of tracking what is running and making sure to shut down systems no longer in use or no longer needed. Also, it will need to determine who will have the ability to deploy, manage, approve, and view the environment.
Practice portion control
While this environment is ideally suited for cost and use control, too often the opposite happens. It’s easy to turn on services, and in a few months, find the environment has ballooned far beyond the plan. That’s especially true if different departments can access the cloud for various jobs and use different tracking methods. Monitoring and managing use and shutting down systems when they are no longer in use are crucial.
Organize staff for success
If cost control and agility are top objectives, the company will need IT and apps teams organized and able to leverage the cloud environment. Otherwise, the company could end up with just another environment from which it is not getting incremental value.
Similarly, managing the environment requires a skilled technical staff, either in-house or through a managed services provider. The management scope includes the cloud providers’ services as well as the systems and resources deployed. It’s all software driven, without the ability to walk up and touch a server or storage array. Scripting and programming are key capabilities, for example. Fortunately, there are new tools available for monitoring, management and provisioning.
If companies fail to leverage the available security capabilities, they could find themselves quite vulnerable. Taking the necessary steps requires expertise in identity and access management, firewalls, encryption and a host of other prevention and detection measures. Managed service providers may very well offer security technologies such as intrusion detection, anti-malware, and data leak prevention that can be used to augment the cloud providers’ security capabilities.
To help companies work through these issues and optimize public clouds, Ensono is introducing its Managed Cloud Services. Come visit us in Chicago at Booth 605 on April 18-19 at the AWS Summit, where we are a sponsor, to learn more.