Cloud Transformation Strategy

Before starting any transition to cloud computing, it is important to understand the fundamentals of cloud computing and how information technology has evolved up to this point.

Before adopting cloud strategy and leveraging its benefits against large and complex internal IT departments, hired consultants and IT outsourcing/augmentation, and the actual expense of computer assets (hardware, software, etc.), companies need to understand and analyse Return on their Investment (ROI) with cloud adoption.

In the transition to cloud, organizations need to understand where they heading and what is the objective of adopting cloud transformation strategy. All benefits like automation, elasticity, on-demand ordering, pay-as-you-go pricing, and self-service management and control systems   from the paradigm shift should be carefully evaluated for the benefit of the organization.

Transition to cloud should broadly be divided in the given categories:

Planning and Architecture

In the Planning and Architecture phase, Organizations need to understand the varied Deployment models and services models available in the cloud. These available models need to align with the IT strategy of the organisation and should be re-engineered in a way to make it a best fit for the IT requirement of the company. Higher level view of Deployment and Service model is given in the two diagrams below.

Operational Transformation

The transition to cloud is much more than just implementing new technology. The changes to the way an organization operates or works day-to-day also need to change.

As shown in the figure below, organizations should move to cloud-based services in phases as the cost, effort, and complexity of moving too quickly can result in exorbitant cost, delayed schedules, and impact to the mission of the organization.

Mature organizations transition to cloud-based services in a phased approach as described below

Deploying Your Cloud

The first thing to decide is what cloud deployment type best fits your target end-consumers (your own organization or customers/consumers of your cloud service that you may host IT services for). Different types of cloud available in the market are

  • Public Cloud
  • Virtual Private Cloud
  • Private Cloud
  • Community Cloud
  • Hybrid Cloud

Application Transformation

Many cloud providers have initially focused on Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), it is applications that will dominate this industry, and the majority of the work in transitioning to a cloud model. IaaS is now considered the very minimum capability within a cloud service and most cloud systems and providers are rightfully beginning with the infrastructure components – server compute, storage, networking – and then branching out into Platform and Software as a Service.

When planning for your cloud transition or deployment, Organisations need to assess their existing applications which will lead companies to decide  on what to migrate to the cloud, what apps to re-program, which to maintain in the existing enterprise, and the priorities for an eventual transition to cloud.

Cloud Security

As an organization plans for a transition to cloud, the first step from a security standpoint, is to consider what IT systems, applications, and data should or must remain within a legacy enterprise data center. Not all workloads are ideal candidates to transition to the cloud due to data sensitivity concerns, mission criticality, or industry regulations on security and data controls. Security experts need to work with application and business owners to determine which applications and data can easily be moved to a cloud and which should be evaluated further or at least delayed in migration to a cloud.

Having this information is critical for the IT and financial business units of any organization to help determine the type of cloud to be used or deployed, calculate initial infrastructure capacity, financial and ROI models, and to establish overall operational governance decisions.

Billing and Procurement

One of the core benefits or promises of the cloud service model was little or no up-front expenditure of capital funds to procure, deploy, and operate the cloud.

Key advantage with public cloud services is that customers can increase or decrease their selected services (and thus costs) at any time, without penalties from the cloud provider. This pay-as-you-go approach makes consumers of public cloud more flexible in their business decisions, with IT services becoming a utility bill and allowing capital funds to be used for strategic core business functions.

Companies need to learn the best practices relating to the procurement of cloud services and how cloud services are billed in both public and private cloud models.

Cloud Management

Cloud management system is an absolute necessity. Anyone can build a server farm, install some virtualization software, and declare they have a cloud; however, without a system to manage it there is no multi-tenant customer interface, no automated provisioning, and no metering of resources for billing.

Cloud management systems vary greatly in their features, ease of use, flexibility, and cost. A cloud provider (or private cloud owner) can develop their own cloud management system, or purchase an existing system from cloud software management vendors.