Podcast: Harnessing New Cloud Technologies

In our latest HOSTING 360 Cloud Podcast, we caught up with Mike McCracken, Senior Director of Professional Services. In addition to managing the HOSTING team of cloud solution consultants, Mike spends much of his time advising clients to leverage different cloud technologies to gain business advantages. We sat down with Mike to ask about the latest cloud computing trends and technologies. You can listen to the entire podcast on-demand. In the meantime, we’ve included some highlights below.

More companies are “going all in” with the cloud

Just a few short years ago, companies learned about the cloud by seeing charges on their Amazon invoices. Truth be told, “Shadow IT” groups within a company were the first to adopt cloud computing solutions. For example, a marketing department would set up their own cloud solution to store finished deliverables. Most of the time these cloud environments were outside the company’s firewall and lacked the same security and compliance measures than what their IT teams would implement.

Fast forward a few years, and cloud use is becoming more widespread. Initially the cloud was relegated to low-risk test/dev or “sandbox” workloads. Today, organizations are moving both edge applications (i.e., e-commerce sites or company websites) as well as core applications containing sensitive data to the cloud. They are also taking advantage of the cloud’s scalability. Rather than purchase additional servers or virtual machines, companies are leveraging the cloud for seasonal workloads where they need to scale resources quickly for events such as Tax Day, Black Friday, etc.

Cloud migrations are a team effort

Mike emphasizes that while cloud migrations are a team effort between the customer and their cloud service provider (CSP), some things are best left to the experts.

“Cloud migrations are complex,” Mike notes. “Everyone comes into it thinking, ‘I understand my server or application’ but they’re not doing migrations on a day-to-day basis.”

Mike compares cloud migrations to working on your car. You may know how to change the oil in it, but doing a complete engine rebuild is probably outside your expertise.

So what can companies do to help ensure a successful migration? Mike offers a few tips:

  • Understand your environment including the dependencies between applications and different infrastructure layers.
  • Realize that migrating to the cloud impacts many departments; not just your own. Communicate with all stakeholders involved to understand their business requirements from a time and outage perspective, and how much risk are they willing to take.
  • Establish well-documented “go- no-go” criteria and rollback strategies with your cloud provider. The decision to migrate to the cloud is yours, not the CSP’s, so know in advance what factors are working successfully before you pull the trigger. Also have a roll back strategy. As Mike shared, “It’s difficult, but not impossible to roll back. No one at 3 am on a Saturday wants to want to be worried about, ‘How are we going to get back to where we were because this didn’t work.’”

Mobile devices are driving cloud computing growth

In 2010, personal computers (PCs) were still the primary vehicle for people to work, shop and access information over the Internet. IDC predicts that by 2015, 90% of devices shipped will be smartphones and tablets versus 10% for PCs. The explosion of mobile devices has resulted in multiple operating systems and not as much compute capacity as PCs, which are gradually fading away. You need to look at where these applications can run. This has resulted in the emergence of more software as a service (SaaS) applications (e.g., Salesforce, Office 360, Netflix, etc.).

There is also a new need for rapid scalability. Mike gave the example of having thousands of people at a football game suddenly wanting to book tickets for the playoff game online. Organizations are leveraging cloud-based solutions to handle those sort of usage spikes.

Virtual desktops are also becoming more important as employees want access to their work environment wherever they’re located. With virtual desktops, organizations’ end-user desktops are safely operated from an off-site data center and accessed via a low-cost client device or traditional PC or laptop.

Finally, Mike touched on the impact the cloud has on the Internet of Things (IoT), citing devices such as refrigerators. Previously considered “dumb devices,” they are now connected through the Internet on the backend, generating large amounts of data. The cloud is the perfect place to store, manage and analyze that data. Business-critical assets remain safely within the IT’s domain – reducing the risk of security breaches – while allowing designated access to employees via the devices of their choice.

Tune into our podcast anytime to learn about the trends and technologies in cloud computing including cybersecurity, how the cloud can address the healthcare industry’s data tsunami, and why unified cloud solutions such as the HOSTING Unified Cloud™ represent the future of the industry.