Cloud computing remains a disruptive force in IT and people have been calling 2015 the year of the cloud. Investment in the cloud will only continue to grow in 2016. Gartner’s second-quarter 2015 public cloud forecast shows anticipated growth of 15.2 percent compounded annually from 2014 through 2019 and growth in 2015 is forecast at 13.5 percent, representing $175 billion dollars. (Source: Gartner® Growth in IT Spending on Public Cloud Services, 2013-2019, August 2015.)
While the advantages of moving to the cloud are clear, many organizations will undermine these benefits by investing in the wrong cloud solution. Before you start migrating workloads, you need to identify the cloud mix — public, private and hybrid — that satisfies your organization’s unique needs. Here are four reasons a “one-size-fits-all approach” is wrong for your organization:
1. Your cloud should reflect your workloads.
If you want low-cost data-archiving, a service such as Amazon Glacier might be a good choice. If you need to run business-critical ERP with burstable performance, look for a different solution.
Of course, few companies have only a single need. So you probably require different solutions for different workloads. A financial company might house account information and transactional data in a private cloud, while storing publicly-available information such as research reports in a less expensive public cloud. The beauty of the cloud is that you don’t have to overpay for dedicated storage when you don’t need it, without having to sacrifice that extra layer of protection when you do.
The same is true of applications. Email that involves intellectual property needs to be protected. A support center responding to email inquiries has different requirements.
2. Your cloud should reflect your ecosystem.
We often talk about cloud in terms of software-as-a-service (SaaS) or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). But cloud is about more than applications and servers. The cloud needs to encompass your entire business ecosystem — the end-to-end lifecycle of your business operations.
That includes how you connect with employees, partners and customers. And that’s where networks come in. Many CIOs think of the cloud primarily as servers and storage. But whenever you have a performance bottleneck in the cloud, it’s almost always the network.
In fact, the best way to improve cloud performance without dramatically raising costs is to optimize the network. And the most effective way to achieve that is to look at your ecosystem.
Where are your end users, and which data centers are they using? What’s the proximity of your telco carrier, and how many other companies are using that telco in that location? Simply selecting the right network can potentially improve latency by 30 to 40 percent over less-aligned carriers — often without incurring higher monthly costs.
3. Your cloud should be easy to provision and consume.
The cloud is meant to be highly consumable and disposable. You should be able to provision it quickly when you need it and ramp it down rapidly when you don’t.
That ease of use should also apply to ongoing operations. For example, adding a new hire to your cloud-powered system should not involve a series of help desk tasks to go into Active Directory, manually add the user name and privileges, and then manually set up the employee on a desktop, a laptop, a phone and so on.
Instead, a better strategy is to implement a persona-based approach with multi-factor authentication, and leverage automation to ensure consistent and prompt execution of activities to set up multiple devices. Thus, a support center rep might automatically inherit access to email and a file server, while a system administrator might automatically be able to launch a virtual machine in your public cloud.
4. Your cloud should be outcome-focused.
Ultimately, the cloud that’s right for you is the cloud that enables the outcomes you want. When you drive to the office in the morning, you can take several routes, but not all are equally efficient. Likewise, no single route will address all of your needs to grab a cup of coffee, pick up the cleaning, fill up the tank, or drop your kids off at school. Similarly, you need the combination of public and private infrastructures to adequately address the various scenarios that your business is likely to experience.
What’s the right mix? The answer depends on a wide variety of factors, including industry, location, workload, and regulation/governance. Even the prevalence of cloud-ready (versus legacy) applications that run your business is a key factor, as applications that were not designed to be virtualized may need to reside on a dedicated physical server in order to continue providing acceptable performance. While the cloud can be turned on quickly, decisions about which clouds to turn on should be made in a thoughtful manner.
To that end, every organization needs a trusted cloud advisor. No one ever sat alone in a room and invented an iPhone. One person had the vision, but it took a team of designers and engineers and programmers to realize it. Likewise, you may have a vision for what your organization can achieve in the cloud. But you should leverage the knowledge and experience of those who can add value to your vision.
Naturally, you can go to any number of persons or companies to get this input on your strategy – a hardware maker or software vendor or SaaS provider. Of course, you will not be surprised when they determine that your environment is a perfect fit for their particular hardware, software, or SaaS service. That is why you should also temper this feedback with guidance from an unbiased advisor that isn’t trying to sell you their specific hardware, software or cloud solution, but is instead focused on a macro vision of how your business best thrives in the cloud - after all, one size doesn’t fit all.
Please share your thoughts and comments about how to choose the right cloud solution to meet specific business needs.