It’s not all or nothing – a practical approach to embracing cloud
Cloud computing can deliver a range of benefits for every business but when it comes to moving into the cloud it’s not an all or nothing decision.
Companies have different objectives and considerations so every cloud journey is unique. Before introducing cloud computing to your organisation, here are some key issues you will need to consider.
Cloud computing is not one size fits all
While it is possible to get practically all your ICT needs from cloud providers, this is only practical for start-ups. Most companies have existing investments in IT systems and moving them all to the cloud model is not practical. Issues like service levels and compliance requirements around sensitive data also need to be considered. So, how do you decide which business applications to move to the cloud?
Start with a defined project
Many organisations start their journey into the cloud with a defined project to replace an existing in-house application. Starting with commodity services such as e-mail, file storage, instant messaging and online learning, that are fully understood and readily portable, can help you achieve deliverables quickly. Building on this success, and carrying forward key learnings about cloud as it relates to your enterprise, will give you a solid foundation on which to scale.
Ask which cloud service model(s) does my business require?
Companies have three different cloud service models to choose from, depending on what cloud service(s) they require. These include Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which enables customers to access virtual servers, storage, backup and network resources, Platform as a Service (PaaS), which provides on-demand access to software and development tools to create applications and Software as a Service (SaaS), which enables them to use a service provider’s applications (like email, CRM or HRM) over the internet and pay for them on a per-use basis.
Public, private or hybrid cloud?
Companies can choose to use a public, private or hybrid cloud. In a private cloud model your systems, applications and data are kept within your organisation, behind your own firewall, whereas in a public cloud model they are housed in a public data centre, connected to over the internet and governed by the rules of the service provider. A hybrid cloud offers companies the best of public and private clouds working together, combining scalability and cost advantages with the security of in-house data storage.
The data dictates the cloud model
The type of data involved will largely dictate which cloud model is most appropriate. The most fundamental question is around the data itself: Is the data classified? Are there compliance or geographical restrictions? Can I store it outside of our perimeter firewalls or does it need to be retained internally? This will help you to determine which cloud model is appropriate for a particular project.
Key questions you need to ask:
- What are the business services you will be offering?
- How will they be procured (by end users or business units)?
- Will they be explicitly charged for (or do you just provide informational chargeback data)?
Moving your business into the cloud is not an all or nothing decision. You can start with a defined project and migrate other services or infrastructure to the cloud over time. Depending on the sensitivity of your data, you can choose a public, private or hybrid cloud model. An analysis of your business objectives and the service levels required and a risk assessment of the type of data involved will help you to decide which model suits your business best.