The Sky’s the Limit— How to Successfully Transition to the Cloud
This is what success looks like…. In six months, a vision becomes a reality for an organization transitioning to the cloud. Led by the benefits of cost savings and scalability, they step into a new world, expanding their horizons by doing away with resource restrictions and the cost of maintaining over – or – under powered equipment and facilities.
They pay for the resources they actually use, their sales force can assure large clients of their ability to immediately provide service and support at any scale, and their compliance, security, upgrades, maintenance, and disaster recovery planning are built into the system. Their staff is well trained in using and supporting the new process, having acquired new skills and career changing opportunities.
Now, where does it start?
Get your Head in the Clouds
There are many types and degrees of cloud transition, each with its own pros and cons. Understanding these will help you choose the right level of migration and the best vendor for your off-site or co-located operations.
Let’s start with the possibilities:
- IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service provides virtualized computing resources such as servers, storage, network services, and databases. It typically replaces part of the data center infrastructure with a hosted component, taking advantage of the economics of scale to provide secure hosting and top-notch disaster recovery at a reasonable rate, and thereby removes or reduces the responsibility for these key factors in-house. Some concerns to consider here are bottlenecks caused by limited bandwidth on your existing network and less direct access to back-end data systems for reporting.
- PaaS – Platform as a Service enables you to develop, test, and deploy software on the infrastructure owned by the PaaS provider. Software development and testing tools are housed on the system in a secure environment. Deployments for everything from apps to enterprise software solutions are possible on the platform. Going this route provides the best possible resources to your developers and QA teams, but it will require research into security and compliance by a provider to ensure they meet your organization’s requirements.
- SaaS – Software as a Service allows your organization to run, customize, and control almost all of your external applications on equipment and infrastructure managed by the SaaS vendor. If your in-house network has the necessary bandwidth to avoid bottlenecks this option has the largest cost savings potential. Review vendor security to ensure it meets all requirements of your industry, and be aware that highly custom software and new applications may present more of a challenge for SaaS vendors, entailing higher implementation costs. End-user support will also need to be evaluated and processes aligned.
Planning your Flight
Evaluating the impacts on the business processes and procedures of almost every department within the organization is key to a smooth transition to the cloud. A change of this magnitude will impact service delivery, finance, support, facilities, R&D, development and testing, storage and backup, networks, sales, operations and of course human resources.
This transition provides the need and opportunity to evaluate and streamline existing process, which may require short-term guidance from experts in process analysis/improvement or deployment of cloud systems to achieve a successful move in the shortest possible time frame. Your transition budget should include some contract experts with experience in this arena.
Are there storms in the forecast?
As in all transitions, planning for the well-being of your people is paramount. An entire team may need to be deployed to manage the new architecture. This may in turn provide new opportunities for existing employees who are motivated to up their skills and take on the challenge of designing, deploying, and managing network segmentation, database migrations, application deployment, as well as programming and security services in the cloud. New roles will be created, necessitating some job description and title changes. This may, in turn, now include Cloud System Managers, Solution Architects, SysOps Administrators and DevOps Administrators. The cost of these new roles, re-training, and changes in compensation should be included in the transition budget.
Creating and maintaining positive morale within impacted teams is challenging. Not all employees will be well suited to address their skill gaps or excited to embrace this new technology. One way to address this would be to provide these staff members with training to expand their expertise in supporting and improving the existing on-site architecture which will remain. Offering these opportunities will help maintain positivity by demonstrating that the transition is focused on improvement and scalability, inclusive of all team members, and not a bid to eliminate them.
Cloud-based systems can free your staff to focus on their real purpose and expand their organizational impact rather than wasting time struggling with outdated technology and legacy systems.
The Clouds are rolling in
The 2017 BDO Technology Outlook Survey reported that 74% of tech company CFOs say Cloud Computing will have the most measurable impact on their business this year.
By 2018 at least half of IT spending will be cloud-based, according to the IDC Futurescape: Worldwide Cloud 2016 Predictions.
With these predictions on the horizon, we can expect many large and small companies to consider some form of cloud migration in the coming year. Facing the challenges of employee re-training, process improvement, new interfaces, maintenance windows, integrating end-user support, and managing communications will pay off in the benefits:
- Rapid deployments of easily scaled solutions without the limitations of existing equipment or the expense of upgrading and maintaining that equipment;
- Vendor responsibility for complying with local laws and interfacing with regulatory institutions;
- Improved speed of processing and more efficient collaborations with other locations and organizations; and the
- Ability to meet the growing demand for speed and efficiency of data transfer in the marketplace.
Hopefully, this summary lifts the fog around cloud-hosted solutions and brings you a clear vision of the best next steps for your organization. Remember we can provide the right experts with the experience to get all your plans off the ground. Please reach out to us today!
Are you considering a cloud-based solution this year or are currently involved in a transition? Please tell us your thoughts — feel free to comment on or share this post.