Aug 17, 2012

Five key steps to a successful cloud takeoff


Five key steps to a successful cloud takeoffMoving to the cloud one app at a time

Leading IT organizations are realizing that it can be easier to consume quality infrastructure from vendors than to build out ever-more assets into their own data centers. This isn’t a slight to the work that enterprise IT organizations have done over the past few decades. It’s simply a function of the fact that high-performing, reliable infrastructure is most efficient at scale, and the demand for these services is being better met with each passing day.

So, what are world-class IT organizations doing? They are getting out of the infrastructure business. While wholesale outsourcing of infrastructure still presents a host of challenges, most IT departments are now using Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) for at least some of their applications. IaaS provides pre-configured hardware and storage over the Internet. This is a cost-effective delivery model, where the IT infrastructure services provider is responsible for owning, hosting, running and maintaining the equipment. In this type of model, organizations typically pay only for what they use.

IaaS IS ready for enterprise applications

Over the past few years, IaaS has rapidly matured to the point that many applications can be hosted reliably — with few or no problems. To be sure, there are those who make a living based on the complexity of enterprise IT environments who will provide well-crafted objections about the shortcomings of current IaaS offerings. In some cases they will be right, but IaaS providers are increasingly addressing concerns about reliability, performance and security, and doing so at a lower cost than internal IT.

Execution is difficult — so you need a good strategy

It’s easy to say that IaaS is ready, right? But you’ve got mission-critical applications with real-world requirements that are not set in the current context of the capabilities of IaaS providers.

For better or worse, expectations have been set by the custom, high-performing environments that the budgets of the last 20 years allowed. Everyone is looking for the benefits of cloud, along with application performance and functionality. Reliable and scalable infrastructure is simply expected. Your reward for building a world-class enterprise infrastructure is to find a way to gradually make it more efficient, reliable and scalable.

So how and where do you get started in building an IaaS migration strategy?

Follow these five steps:

  1. Understand and prioritize your application portfolio. How critical is this application to the business? How hard would it be to move this application to a new platform? Are there specific performance requirements?
  2. Reallocate resources and realign goals. You may need to assess how to realign both people and budgets around the application.
  3. Take a hands-on approach to evaluating your options. Don’t write an RFI/RFP/RFQ; these are all methods of learning about what the post-sale experience will be like. Instead, spin up some infrastructure with a few providers, and turn it off when you’re done.
  4. Test a “cloud ready” application. After you’ve’ removed dependencies on bespoke infrastructure, perform a pilot in which you test a cloud-specific application in the cloud. Once stable, follow your existing, proven application release methodology, and move it officially to the cloud environment.
  5. Just do it. The real key is to start the process and prove to your organization that it can be done, thus setting the stage for a more comprehensive application migration strategy.

Need more detail? Check out full-length version by downloading the eBook, “Five Key Steps to a Successful Cloud Takeoff.”

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