No longer a buzzword, the Cloud has become a hot commodity, and virtually every software vendor is bringing a cloud offering to market if they haven’t yet done so already. Organisations are leaping at the chance to migrate to the cloud based on the many benefits to be had.
From pay-as-you-use service models to its renowned agility and flexibility to the many, many applications, systems and services that can be built and hosted, the cloud offers something for everyone. However, there are so many options to choose from that many organisations are at a loss as to where to start and which cloud service provider is best suited to their needs.
Businesses frequently latch on to catch phrases like ‘hyperscale’ and cool sounding marketing terms, picking their cloud vendor based on technology terms rather than business requirements. However, technical superiority of one cloud vendor over another is relatively moot if you do not have a business case to move to cloud. Your business requirements will dictate what your technical requirements are, and will narrow your search.
Many other businesses who have built a business case for cloud are spending inordinate amounts of time comparing cloud vendors without reaching a decision. Comparisons will inevitably lead to more confusion as most cloud vendor offerings differ very little in terms of functionality. Which vendor you choose matters far less than that you simply choose one and start the process.
Organisations looking to digitally transform are excitedly exploring digital technology to enable this process. As the market evolves and customer needs change, businesses are seeking to address these needs and remain relevant. Artificial Intelligence (AI), analytics and Big Data, cyber security, mobility – all of these are being investigated to propel businesses into the digital age.
Most, if not all, of them are enabled by the cloud. The cloud certainly answers the need for agility and elasticity, and, as businesses grow, the cloud offers unique adaptability to grow with them. And most, if not all, cloud vendors offer the functionality to enable these services, too.
Organisations shouldn’t be hung up on which cloud option to choose, but should be asking these key questions: Who will help me to migrate to the cloud? And, once done, who will manage and support my cloud services for me?
The value of your cloud offering lies not with the functionality or technical superiority, but with the services that it enables and the ability of your Cloud Service Provider (CSP) to manage them for you.
Once you’re in the cloud
Many cloud vendors offer fantastic capabilities, however, few of them offer migration assistance, service levels, support and management. Once you’ve opted to migrate to the cloud, the process can be incredibly complex. While you may understand your business, you need someone who can understand the impact cloud migration will have on the way you do business, and how to minimise its effects.
There are many considerations that need to be taken into account when migrating to the cloud. For example, if you opt for a hybrid cloud solution, choosing to migrate non-core systems and applications to the cloud while keeping critical systems on premise, you need to understand how to effectively integrate the two so that they operate in synchronicity.
There are also compliancy requirements that have to be assessed and met. Compliancy within the cloud varies from that of on premise systems and data. Your CSP should be able to evaluate your business and ensure that you are not at risk of becoming non-compliant when you migrate your business.
Managing the cloud
Whether you go all-cloud or select a hybrid option, the services that you obtain from the cloud need to be managed, as does your connection to the cloud. The systems and services that you leverage in the cloud are not impermeable, nor are they self-provisioning.
Service levels and support is of paramount importance. You will need a CSP who can actively – and proactively – manage, monitor, secure and maintain your cloud services to ensure that you continue to reap the rewards. Your CSP should be able to assess your business requirements periodically to ensure your cloud services are always in line with business goals, and that they adapt as and when those goals change.
On top of this, to best take advantage of the agility of the cloud and the innovation it engenders, you will still require updates, upgrade paths, and up to date information on any technologies which could be more effective that what you currently have.
Your CSP is the key to unlocking the mystery of the cloud, and making an informed decision about the cloud option you choose, migrating to the cloud successfully, and ensuring your cloud services are operating optimally for your business.
By Rajan Padayachee, Head of Solution and Project Delivery at T-Systems South Africa