Not every business benefits from a lightning-fast move to the Cloud. While younger and less mature organizations may have the agility for a quick lift and shift execution, more established businesses often have concerns around cost and governance that significantly impact their approach to the Cloud. For industries like food and drug development and manufacturing, a deliberate approach that makes use of compliant Cloud Managed Services is especially important in meeting security and compliance requirements, and avoiding potentially huge losses from an unplanned leap towards digital transformation.
This four-step list was created to help those mature organizations build a better approach to the Cloud, understand common pitfalls, and reassure their internal stakeholders that the migration can and will be successful:
1. Build a roadmap to the Cloud.
Hold on, shouldn’t we be building a runway to the Cloud?
Analogies aside, the first step in any migration should be scoping your journey. Identify the workloads that stand to improve the most from a shift to Cloud, and just as importantly, those for which a shift to Cloud doesn’t make sense.
To help identify these, consider aspects like the agility and scalability of your workloads. Application workloads that are generally stable and static, often found more commonly in mature organizations with an established business, are poor candidates for migration. Understanding the data you’re working with is key, too - some organizations leverage legacy systems to meet requirements that data must be stored for certain periods of time, even if it it’s no longer being used. Identifying these kinds of issues helps you make sense of what to move, how long it will take, and what kind of ROI you can expect.
Consider your organization’s approach to development as well - usually the biggest beneficiaries of a shift to Cloud, developers and other technical end-users are enabled to be more productive. However, if your organization has little investment in development initiatives, this might not make sense. LS industries tend to have more manual processes in place than other IT departments. This doesn’t mean those processes aren’t well-suited to run in a Cloud environment - on the contrary, organizations see the biggest gains from automating previously manual processes - but it’s key to be realistic about what can be automated and how it will be achieved.
Lastly, don’t neglect the technical concerns. Applications not on x86 servers must be rebuilt before migrating to the Cloud, while x86-based applications often struggle with performance under virtualizations. Having a good grasp on the technical limitations of your hardware is crucial to a successful Cloud roadmap.
2. How much private Cloud, if any, should be used?
The key to selecting which types of Cloud your organization should employ is in identifying business goals and priorities. While cost reduction is often the driving force behind migration, it’s not always the case. Organizations focused on improving their application deployment will be more inclined towards availability and reliability than cost-savings and scaling. Pharmaceutical companies prioritizing the deployment of business intelligence and analytics apps for example, would be strongly inclined towards a high-uptime environment. In such a case, a predominantly private cloud solution may be the ideal choice.
For businesses that require keeping some workloads internal or on a hosted private Cloud, utilizing virtual machines (VMs) and container hosts is an excellent way to take a step towards building an internal private Cloud without making an immediate commitment. Virtualization helps organizations get as close to a Cloud solution as necessary to see true business value, without unnecessary implementations. To better understand this, consider that Gartner research notes that "...typical servers at low utilization levels operate at between 60% and 70% of its total power requirements." The bonus of private Cloud is driving these servers to higher utilization levels, which in turn brings about reduced spend in key areas like floor space, equipment, power and cooling costs.
3. How much public Cloud, if any, should be used?
The typical tradeoff between public and private Cloud is the ownership of system hardware and other assets. In a public Cloud scenario, costs are akin to utilities in that they are measured based on their level of usage. Understanding the nature of your applications and the requirements that are likely to arise in the future is the key to deciding what level of public Cloud to implement.
The biggest drawback to public cloud infrastructures for LS organizations is the difficulty in compliance and validating their infrastructure. It remains difficult to find managed services providers that fully comply with a company's required standards, particularly in the pharmaceutical space. For that reason, mature organizations with compliance and governance requirements are often more likely to shy away from public clouds. Despite the difficulty in providing customizations meeting compliance protocol, there are good reasons to consider the public cloud route. Organizations with global scale benefit from public IaaS’s ability to be deployed virtually anywhere in a short amount of time. Needs around agility and speed are also well-serviced by the huge amount of compute power and pay-as-you-go features that public Clouds offer.
4. Know which advanced features are worth it for your organization, and which aren’t.
Deciding which are useful to your organization allows better communication and establishes a clearer idea of what the objectives from a move to Cloud are. As mentioned in step two, cost-savings is not always the first priority for a move to the Cloud. In such a case, more complex features like automatic scaling and metered payment solutions may be unattractive to a business in the early stages of a move to the Cloud.
However, that doesn’t mean advanced features can’t earn back their cost with high-value performance. Even if cost-savings aren’t the number one priority, some Managed Services Providers offer components around monitoring and security that can be extremely beneficial to organizations with sensitive data and/or compliance concerns.
The shift to Cloud is certainly undeniable, but it’s not all or nothing. A thorough understanding of the organization’s objectives and their priorities combined with experienced advice is the basis for a bulletproof plan for migration. Keep in mind that: not all workloads make sense in all Cloud ecosystems, the main reasons for private versus public Clouds (and vice versa), and what specific requirements will make your organization’s unique, driving a need for customization or extra features from a Cloud Managed Services team. With proper planning, it can be a smooth trip.