The cloud can provide significant benefits for your business, whether you want to increase your business agility or cut down on your technology costs. However, while your business may be tempted to go all-in on cloud technology, be sure to keep these considerations in mind before you make the leap.
Cloud environments require a different management strategy than a homogeneous on-premise environment. Your IT team will no longer maintain most hardware and software as that’s the responsibility of the vendor. Cloud management solutions help your IT department stay on top of cloud administration, reducing the risk of siloing operations and creating visibility in the environment. Cloud management is easier with a limited provider count, but a homogeneous cloud environment introduces risks such as vendor lock-in and limited flexibility. If you allow a third-party cloud management service to handle this task, you also need to consider the risk of having outside personnel accessing your environment.
Mixed Cloud Environment
Hybrid cloud environments utilize a mix of onsite and cloud-based solutions. Businesses use this configuration when they want to continue using existing legacy hardware and software, split public and private cloud access, and store some data locally. Consider how these environments will play nice with each other. Some cloud solutions integrate with existing systems, or you can develop custom solutions to help cloud and onsite environments co-exist. Some systems, such as specialized legacy software, may remain separate and in place for a specific department.
Cloud Provider Impact on Your Business
A cloud environment can place a substantial amount of control in the provider’s hands. They control the hardware, software updates and other aspects of their service offering. Your cloud deployment plan needs to cover what happens if a provider has an extended outage or goes out of business. Cloud technology is a rapidly growing market and is attracting many vendors. However, these vendors don’t all have long-term staying power, with Computer World reporting that 25% of providers will go out of business.
If you lack a backup plan for a cloud vendor disappearing, you will encounter massive business disruption, data loss and other issues. Establish the process for retrieving your cloud-based data and applications before you select the provider you will partner with. For example, use a big-name and well-established company such as Amazon to handle redundant access for your critical applications. Network World also found an innovative solution that utilizes a software escrow account. The cloud software goes into a locked account which can only be accessed if the vendor goes out of business. Companies use this method to handle data center migration from a service provider that uses its own file system.
Moving to a Progressive IT Environment Model
A cloud environment eliminates the day-to-day management of your IT environment. Your IT and business decision makers switch from a reactive break fix model to a progressive model. You can focus on strategic IT decisions and supporting the company’s goals instead of getting caught up in the day-to-day details.
Choosing Cloud Providers
You will encounter an overwhelming volume of cloud providers when you start your evaluation process. This is why your ideal cloud providers should go beyond meeting your basic feature list. Look for vendors standing out from the crowd with a diverse set of offerings and the capability to scale with your needs. You don’t want to select cloud vendors that provide sufficient capacity for your current company size but fail to scale with you as you grow.
Your company’s cloud deployment needs to be carefully planned in order to maximize the technology’s advantages, while avoiding potential infrastructure pitfalls. Keep these considerations in mind when you plan your cloud or hybrid IT environment.
Author: Dale Janda, Disaster Recovery & Storage Practice Manager