IT Consultants' Insight on Business Technology | NSK Inc.

The essential elements of a killer cloud strategy

Posted by Cathie Briggette Wed, Nov 01, 2017

Blog Written by: Danish Wadhwa from www.flydot.biz

To some businesses, cloud computing may seem as mercurial and intangible as its namesake. However, with the right guidance and solid strategy, businesses can work and move forward confidently: charting a direct course through migration, making the right business decisions, and making the most out of the cloud. But to make the solid strategy, you need to know about its essential elements.

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Not considering the over-hyped assertions for a moment like “everyone is migrating to the cloud” and “the cloud is necessary for every business,”consider the ways to determine whether the cloud is the best solution for your organization or not, or is it just a part of a more complex composite solution? You need to have the in-depth understanding to construct a killer cloud strategy. Apart from the understanding of technology, you need to have the complete knowledge of the business picture entirely.

Understanding the goals

Before beginning any journey, it is essential to have a clear picture in mind to end up successfully. The cloud technology is no different. Your business objectives decide your direction.

For example:

  • Are you interested in automated deployment with on-demand scalability?
  • Do you want to embrace agile development environment for robust testing of the new application?
  • Is there any need to shift from a capex to an opex business model?

Any technological change impacts automation platforms, application architecture, template management, chargeback and costing procedures, workflow and approval process, management, monitoring, security, forensics, and so much more.

The first step to making a strategic decision requires the understanding of where you are going and, for outsourced solutions, to finding the managed service provider whose processes, procedures, and abilities can help to achieve your end goals. Many businesses are also certifying their skills in cloud computing after getting training like AWS training from experts.

Understanding of your IT estate

The established IT agencies generally include different platforms like SPARC, RISC, mid-range, mainframe and many others. Can these systems along with the vertically-scaling applications be moved to an n-scale x86 based platform? The answer is “it depends.” Each application needs careful analysis to optimize performance and functionality.

Everything needs to be analyzed, for example, the application’s platform, scaling model, use of resources, communications, and more against the virtual environment to which it is slated to move. Migration will be easy in some cases. However, in other cases, the application refactoring can take place to adapt to the new environment.

In some situations, the best option may be to keep the application “as is” and either run it internally or find a hosting vendor that can support the application in its current state and offers integrated cloud solutions.


Understand the types of cloud and their benefits


All clouds are different!  Businesses need to choose from private, public, community, and hybrid options according to needs. You need to understand the difference amongst operation, management, scale, security, and governance for these routes while defining your cloud strategy.

Not the other way around, but only the business goals should decide your cloud choice. For example, suppose the primary need of your business is flexible scaling on the fly to match the total expense with available resources.

Though a private cloud is flexible to scale up and down according to changing requirements, the reality is that you have to buy the full capacity with your Capex budget. Only with a leveraging hosting solution, you can realize the benefit of cost savings, and for a massive scale out, you would require a public cloud.

The cloud bursting is an alternative solution where you provision enough capacity for continuous operations but “burst” into a public cloud during periods of intensive development and testing.

Understand your data governance

When it comes to compliance and data governance requirements, the frameworks like HIPAA, FINRA, GLBA, PCI-DSS, SOX, etc. present a variety of challenges to businesses. So businesses need to account for how cloud adoption can be accomplished within these frameworks.

In most of the cases, businesses can leverage cloud technologies and providers easily, but the requirements are essential to analyze from the design phase to make sure the chosen provider and solutions will support on the grounds of security, compliance and data governance.

Security is the key concern  during cloud migration as businesses are prone to malicious attacks like Ransomware. Firstly understand the architecture of cloud that you are planning to move to and what security policies it supports within that infrastructure. This requires a  committed approach to processes, following the best practices of industry such as ITIL and ISO 20000-1. Security is mainly addressed at the infrastructure layer through access and layering in security services.

Understanding of user community

If you are similar to most of the organizations, your employees already have a full plate. The application(s) require careful management during their migration to a new platform so that your business does not feel like taking the risk, or a loss of control.

  • How do you make your existing technical staff stakeholders in the process?
  • Do developers and coders need a test/dev environment?
  • Have your team completely communicated the benefits of cloud?

Teams in production environments always look forward to management tools, security, compliance, resiliency, and availability. It is important to emphasize the benefits to engage them in the migration process.

Understand the impact to management

The addition of vendors/external sites impacts workflow, control, monitoring, and other operational aspects. Have you planned how you will embrace the change? Though there are many benefits to the cloud like the ability to streamline operations, “disruptive technologies” like cloud-based model requires new approaches to operations and management. For instance, how will the addition of vendors impact workflow, monitoring, and other operations?

Understand the implications for availability

Availability and resilience are essential to every business.The cloud strategy of business might include the using cloud for data vaulting, replication, and backup during the disaster. These cases need to have a hard look at recovery cloud vendor for such details as:

  • Which are the business-critical applications that demand the high availability that can come from an active-active environment, and therefore are not suitable for cloud-based recovery?
  • Which are the secondary applications that could benefit from a recovery approach versus a high availability solution?
  • Will your on-site resources work over the cloud or not?
  • Will resources fail back internally, or to another cloud provider?
  • Does the cloud vendor’s environment show compatibility with the multiple application layers, operating platforms, and systems in your production environment?

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Our world is a hybrid: some part is physical, and other is virtualized. Various applications run on the hybrid cloud, and recovery environments must reflect the particular mix of O/S, compute platform, and storage within in the production environment. Or else, your disaster recovery efforts will fail. However, clouds are not completely safe from outages, and BC/DR plans need to account for resources being hosted on multiple sites. The plan requires the documentation, proper communication, and robust testing at least two times per year.

Topics: Cloud Computing, Cloud Security