Over the past five years, cloud computing has evolved from a potential game-changer to a key element in many organization’s IT environments. However, despite increased adoption rates, many organizations are still unclear about cloud computing. In our recent webinar, “Planning for the Cloud,” Bill Santos and Mike McCracken of HOSTING Advanced Solutions provide guidance when planning for and assessing your migration to the cloud. Missed it? You can watch the on-demand webinar. Following are some highlights.
Defining the cloud
While “the cloud” has been a buzzy term over the past five years, there is still some confusion about what it really entails. Thanks to the folks at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), we have a list of five key characteristics that make up the cloud.
- The cloud needs to be on-demand or self-service. There is generally a customer portal that you can access to provision their infrastructure and get basic reporting, monitoring and metrics of how it is running.
- It runs on a broad network in which you access your cloud environment via a secure VPN connection. Those cloud centers are connected by many different providers, providing access from just about anywhere around the world.
- It is based on resource pooling where organizations share the same infrastructure. Cloud aggregates a tremendous amount of compute and storage, allocating it to end users as needed.
- It is elastic. The cloud allows you to scale compute and storage resources according to your needs.
- It is consumption-based. Organizations pay for exactly the amount of infrastructure that they use.
Additionally there are four layers within the cloud:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – This is an operating system (such as Linux or Windows for example) that an IT team can use in whatever way they want. It includes virtual machines, storage, servers, load balancers, etc.
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – This is a set of development tools that allows you to quickly develop and run applications on an adjunct platform designed to take that code and run it on a production site.
- Software-as-Service (Saas) – This is a software delivery model in which software and associated data are centrally located on the cloud. Examples of SaaS include Salesforce.com and Workday.
- Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) – This is a cloud-based desktop environment that can be accessed from any device, anywhere at any time.
On top of the cloud is a cloud client that you use to interact with these platforms via a web browser, desktop agent or mobile device.
While your IT team may be cloud-savvy, your business units may not have the same knowledge base. For example, your CFO may want a cloud solution access business process around an accounting system while you’re interested in an infrastructure-as-a-service. So when promoting cloud to your business units, be sure everyone is working from the same definitions of terms.
Understanding the cloud challenge
There is a common misconception that the cloud is as easy to deploy as it is to consume. Yet according to a recent survey by RightScale, while 94% of organizations surveyed said they are running some sort of cloud application, less than one third of them have a planning process in place. As a result, they may not know how much they are spending on the cloud environment or if they are spending too much. They also don’t have the ability to manage the partners they’ve hired implement a cloud solution. Fortunately, savvy organizations are starting to realize that they need to engage IT in order to effectively source, invest and manage their cloud applications.
Planning your cloud strategy
Investing in a cloud solution can be as easy as swiping a credit card. However, there are three key reasons why you should take the time to plan out your cloud strategy.
- It enables a data—driven decision process. By taking the time to plan your cloud strategy, you can assess your options from a financial perspective and track those assumptions through delivery to see if you’re meeting initial expectations.
- It helps you understand your current resource needs and plan for future demands.
- It helps you understand cloud options and related costs, which can help you avoid cloud sprawl.
Short on time or manpower? HOSTING’s team of cloud solution architects can help you develop a cloud plan using a streamlined approach.
Step 1 – Discover
This is where you inventory and assess your current IT environment so you know exactly where you’re starting from. Look at the workloads inside your data centers, server rooms and within business divisions. Don’t overlook your physical servers which can be great low hanging fruit for moving to the cloud. Also look at your virtual environment – are there multiple hypervisors that you can consolidate?
Step 2 – Analyze
This step allows you to learn how efficient your current IT environment is running. In many cases organizations have over-configured their environments, leaving servers running at minimal capacity. This can provide great opportunities for consolidation and migration of workloads.
Also examine your current and future business requirements. Is your organization in acquisition mode, where you need to plan for additional capacity? Or is your organization planning to spin off business units, which could reduce the amount of capacity you need? An experienced cloud service provider can help you map out these scenarios and plan your resource requirements.
Step 3 – Design
This is your opportunity to be creative and look at different cloud hosting options including public, private and hybrid clouds. Consider your security and compliance requirements. Ask yourself if you need a dedicated cloud environment for your data assets that a private cloud offers, or will a public cloud suffice. If the answer is “yes” to both, then a hybrid cloud may be your best option.
Also assess your capacity requirements. This where you can estimate on the conservative side due to the “pay as you go” model offered by the cloud. Take advantage of the monitoring services offered by your cloud provider to track usage over time and right-size accordingly.
Need a game plan for going to the cloud? HOSTING cloud experts can help. Contact us anytime to discuss your specific needs in more detail. We offer two white papers to download that can help you get started on your cloud journey.
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