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The 6 R’s of Accessing Enterprise-Level Cloud Technology

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Over the past decade, cloud offerings have evolved significantly, transforming the way medium-sized businesses (MBs) operate.

Cloud computing has made it possible for MBs to access enterprise-level technology and infrastructure without the high costs traditionally associated with it. In the first few years of cloud computing, saving costs was the driving reason for adopting the cloud.

Nowadays, however, businesses are faced with spiralling cloud costs – as data volumes increase, the cost savings evaporate and cloud cost management increases. So much so that 81% of IT teams have been directed to reduce or halt cloud spending by C-Suites.

Beyond spend, different cloud service providers (CSPs) have their own unique selling points. Some specialise in cloud deployment types, hosting offerings, or a particular application, to name a few examples.

To unlock the full potential of multicloud without being constrained by siloed ecosystems of proprietary tools and services, medium businesses should instead take a multicloud by design approach to streamline IT operations by bringing cloud experiences to dedicated IT environments.

To give you an example of what a multicloud by design solution may look like, a business may have services from three different CSPs: one for hosting SAP; one for hosting containers; and one for disaster recovery services.

The opportunities of this kind of multicloud strategy include better IT infrastructure efficiency, greater flexibility to meet challenging requirements, improved time to market and enhanced performance – all great benefits for a growing medium business.

The possibilities are endless, and the reality is that each business must find the right combination that fits their structure while enabling them to meet their short- and long-term goals.

So where do you begin? Below is a guide on how you can assess, design and deploy your multicloud journey.

Phase 1: Goals and Assessment

The discovery phase is arguably the most important step on your multicloud journey. As with any business initiative, your business goals should be front and centre, and building your multicloud infrastructure is no different.

Before any decisions are made, you should ensure that you have clear goals and rationale for moving to multicloud. Reducing IT cost is a key driver, but you may also be looking to improve compliance and increase competitiveness in the market.

At this early stage it’s important to engage with all your key stakeholders to ensure you’re all starting this journey on the same page.

Once you’ve defined your goals, you’ll need to take a closer look at the current application landscape and ask yourself: should it stay, or should it go now? This involves doing a deep dive on your applications through the lens of your new multicloud goals and deciding what action you must take to achieve your goals.

The 6 Rs form a good framework for this:

  • Rehosting: Many early cloud projects gravitate toward net new development using cloud-native capabilities. However, in a large legacy migration scenario where the organisation is looking to scale its migration quickly to meet a business case, the majority of applications are rehosted. Most rehosting can be automated with tools.
  • Replatforming: A few cloud optimisations are used to achieve some tangible benefits, but otherwise the core architecture of the application is not changed. For example, reducing the amount of time spent managing database instances by migrating to a database-as-a-service platform.
  • Refactoring: This is typically driven by a strong business need to add features, scale, or performance that would otherwise be difficult to achieve in the application’s existing environment. While this pattern tends to be the most expensive, it can also be the most beneficial if you have a good product market fit.
  • Repurchasing: This most commonly occurs when moving to a SaaS platform, i.e., an HR system to Workday and so on.
  • Retire: During the application discovery it might be revealed that an application is no longer required or is redundant to other applications. The organisation’s lifecycle process can be used to retire these applications.
  • Retain: Some applications might be retained ‘as-is’, because legacy operating systems and applications are not supported in the cloud, or the business justification for migrating is insufficient.

Phase 2: Requirements and Architecture Design

Once you understand the business needs for adopting multicloud and the application landscape, the next step is to define technical requirements that the cloud provider needs to fulfil, although this will depend heavily on the cloud deployment type. The key here will be to map these technical requirements back to the business goals.

For example, for an infrastructure-as-a-Service deployment, some of the requirements you set out could be ‘Automation and API access’, which would map back to a business goal of increasing competitiveness within the sector.

Another example could be ‘Security Policy Enforcement’, which would meet the goal of improved compliance. When this is defined, you move on to the architecture design phase.

With a multicloud by design architecture, IT teams can run individual workloads on the cloud service that will best increase application efficiency and reduce costs.

Phase 3: Getting people on board and on track

With your requirements and architecture in place, you need to prepare the business for change – no mean feat! To get the full benefit of a multicloud environment, IT organisations need to adopt a service-orientated framework. A few examples of what this might look like:

  • From IT Centric To Customer focused
  • From Siloed organisation To Cross-functional and multi-skilled teams
  • From Reactive operations To Proactive operations

This may feel like a disruptive change, but it provides an opportunity to create an agile IT organisation. The journey towards a multicloud environment requires new skills and creates new roles inside your organisation.

For existing employees, there are opportunities to upskill and move into new roles, including Cloud Architects and Cloud Developers. New ways of doing business will require new process and policies, including blueprint and automation policies, chargeback policies, capacity management and security policies.

Finally, once everything is in place, you can create your roadmap and execute your journey to multicloud. Over time, you can drill down into detailed project plans, but the idea is to provide the business with an overview of this journey.

So, what’s the catch?

The reality is that every company’s multicloud journey will be different, depending on the MB’s goals, stakeholders and IT environment. You may spend more or less time in each phase, and the roadblocks along the way may take time to unpick.

However, the benefits of a multicloud by design approach keep stacking up, and if you want to stay agile and continue to provide customers with the best experience, the bumps along the way will provide short-term pain but long-term gain that will keep your organisation ahead of the game in the years ahead.

By Greg McDonald, Director Sales Engineering, Dell Technologies South Africa

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