Let’s talk about Cloud Computing!

Simply put, cloud computing allows organisations to access and process their information at anytime and from anywhere. Other benefits include having access to sophisticated backup and recovery options, reduction in IT infrastructure staff and lowered costs and moving from a CAPEX financing model to an OPEX financing model.

However, when it comes to planning how to best migrate and manage applications in the Cloud we might feel we are trying to navigate through fog. That’s because every organisation will have its unique set of requirements.

This fog feels thicker around the executive roundtables and board rooms when executives are required to approve or endorse recommendations related to Cloud Computing. They often ask whether enough due diligence was done before they endorse a recommendation: is it safe? have we satisfied our regulatory obligations? can we recover our information? And can we afford it?

Because there are so many cloud options out there, due diligence is understanding what your present and future needs are so that you can acquire the appropriate cloud solutions.

So, let’s turn the fog lights on.

5 Basic things to consider when you’re about to invest in cloud computing

  1. Define your current state and assess how cloud can help you meet your future needs

    Before heading into the clouds, it is prudent to carefully think through the objectives you have over the medium-to-long term and keep that in focus.

    Gathering enough information is an important part of planning your cloud journey. Licensing and networking considerations need to be taken into account. For example, data intensive applications may need to be hosted on the same server (or subnet). Ensure you investigate how the assets are used and investigate any installation requirements

    Cloud migration will often be incremental and performed for grouped assets.  As an example, you might move all HR related systems in one tranche, inventory management in the next, but never move your accounting applications.

    Cloud migration also provides an excellent time to clean house. Applications should be assessed using the 5 R’s

    Replace – substitute the solution with a cloud native alternative from the cloud provider – for instance Office 365 or SalesForce

    Rehost – Often called  “lift and shift”, this option directly replaces data center  infrastructure with cloud infrastructure. While generally straightforward, this may not deliver optimal long-term benefits, largely because the environment has not been optimised

    Refactor – Rewrite or reconfigure the application for the cloud environment.

    Retain – keep the application local, potentially due to technical requirements, licensing or company policy

    Retire – Get rid of applications that can be replaced by features in other solutions

    Next, consider how public or private platforms stack up against those objectives. The emphasis will vary depending on the nature of your existing investment and future plans.

  2. Know the options available to you in the market

    Consider how public cloud service offerings and private cloud offerings stack up against those objectives
    Cloud service providers (such as Amazon Web Services) are formidable businesses and the computing power they offer is impressive by any measure. But these organisations take a catalogue approach to offering their services. That is their services (within each catalogue) is fixed and the respective fee is also fixed. Most of the top tier cloud service providers also have dedicated infrastructure offerings (i.e., private cloud) in addition to shared infrastructure offerings (i.e., public cloud)

    There are advantages and disadvantages of using public and private clouds. For example, a private cloud can be expensive, but it does allow better control of security and provide a dedicated environment. By comparison a public cloud isn’t as secure, but it is agile and easily scalable

    Another consideration is whether an organisation requires a hybrid cloud. A hybrid cloud is a combination of public and private cloud, allowing organisations to orchestrate their workload based on their regulatory and policy requirements. Hybrid clouds are expensive and are suitable for enterprises that have complex requirements across various fronts such as security, performance, and scalability

    So the primary question is more around how to efficiently split the workload between data centres. As a rule of thumb, we can say an organisation’s most secure and bespoke data requirements should, in the first instance, go to a private cloud. Data requirements that are less sensitive, but which require scale and speed, are, in the first instance, better served by a public cloud provider.

    At a minimum, this split might offer a starting point for modelling options.

    In our experience, considering two-to-three possible options will really clarify what mix will be optimal for your organisation. Every option comes at a cost and with its advantages and disadvantages.

  3. Set a budget

    Ideally, an organisation may even want to consider two to three options and have these costed, because the ongoing cost is invariably going to be a factor in decision making and such purchases tend to be sticky as IT architecture is not something you will want to change frequently.

  4. Negotiate your prenuptial agreement (know your commercial rights)

    While cloud service providers don’t always offer flexibility to negotiate the terms for consuming their products or services, they do provide options. Choosing the right option is the first step in negotiating a successful outcome

    Separately, some private cloud providers do offer more flexibility (within reason) on their commercial terms, especially if a managed services provider is involved in setting up and maintaining that environment. Concepts such as availability, remediation, service levels, consequences for failing to meet service levels, data ownership (with respective exit strategies), flexible price model and step in rights are negotiable to a good degree. It is important to remember here that tier 1 public cloud providers (such as AWS) do have private cloud offerings

  5. Benchmark your deal – don’t be afraid to negotiate

    So you’ve got a deal on the table and you are about to sign up to it. How do you know if this deal is at market and consistent with what your peers are likely paying? Your main role is giving your leadership team the confidence that you have a fair and competitive long-term relationship that the business can derive value you from continuously.

    Remember you are wedded the minute you sign the dotted line so knowing if you’ve got a well-balanced deal where you are paying a fair price and you have the flexibility to adjust and evolve the terms of that deal as your business evolves is an important part of your due diligence.

    Our independent advice can act as a fog light and help illuminate a reliable path through your cloud decisions.