Cloud computing has been around since the 1960s. However, it was not until the early late 90s that it started evolving with the capabilities that the cloud is known for today. Since then, it has grown leaps and bounds with almost every organization adopting cloud for their software, infrastructure, data, and resources. The advancements in cloud computing strategies have been nothing short of revolutionary, and it has been responsible for facilitating newer, more resilient business models. Adopting a cloud-first approach for legacy infrastructure modules and applications results in cost-effective, next-gen solutions and services, and effectively breaks the silos that exist in traditional systems.
Benefits of cloud enablement:
With large-scale expansions in businesses, it has become prudent to utilize the full potential of cloud services for the entire gamut of IT services in an organization.
Scalability: With traditional systems, scaling up the infrastructure as the business grows, was a time-consuming, tedious process. However, with the advent of the cloud migration process, enterprises can now quickly accommodate spikes in infrastructure demand as and when required.
Cost-effective: Purchasing and maintaining computing hardware on-premise can get quite expensive over time. With cloud migration, organizations can start with a central system and further use its pay-as-you-go model allows enterprises to scale up or down based on the number of computing resources utilized at any given time.
Security: Physical infrastructures often face numerous security challenges like data theft, unauthorized access, hacking, and identity theft. However, this can be curbed if organizations migrate to cloud and storage, network, and compute resources are allocated based on the requirement. There can be different levels of security for various kinds of resources.
Workflow efficiency: Cloud’s feature of a centralized resource repository allows employees to access data and resources anytime. The workforce model of today can be dramatically changed to accommodate remote employees with increased levels of efficiency as they are no longer dependent on physical infrastructure and can access information and resources through collaboration and communication tools.
Reduced downtimes: Cloud migration models are generally low latency solutions. This means that, in the event of system downtime of a cloud-enabled resource, your business can get back online without much hassle. This helps in reducing revenue loss and makes it easier to define Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) for the cloud service.
Cloud Deployment Models
There are multiple cloud deployment models available, and each organization chooses the one it needs based on location and ownership features. Cloud deployment models can be classified into public, private, hybrid, and multi-cloud
Public cloud: One of the most popular cloud deployment models, it is generally not owned by the user. Earlier, public clouds used to be deployed only off-premise. However, more modern deployment methodologies offer public cloud services on the organization’s data center. There are various fee structures adopted by different cloud platforms. A few of them provide free services; some others calculate the cost based on the resources used, and some others are subscription-based. Public cloud is often utilized for basic computing needs, software development, and test environments and as an additional resource during peak demands of other models. It is highly flexible and can be scaled up and down swiftly, on-demand. Some of the more common public clouds are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.
Private cloud: This refers to a cloud solution used by a single organization or small subgroup within a large organization. The data centers can be located at the client location or operated by an external off-site vendor. All resources made available in this deployment model is highly secure, and customizable based on the security requirements of the enterprise. Work processes that involve highly-sensitive information can be done seamlessly without compromising on performance. Large organizations that require robust security measures make use of private cloud setups. These deployment models often boast of high SLA performance and efficacy and show inherent flexibility to change itself according to the evolving business needs.
Hybrid cloud: This refers to the instance when a single resource pool is created from multiple deployment models of a private and public cloud. The resource pool is shared between the various models and used based on the requirement. It is generally used by businesses that have multiple IT verticals security and regulatory compliance. In such cases, the scalability of the public cloud comes into play and is achieved without compromising the security of the modules in the systems. Hybrid models are also more reliable as the services are spread across multiple data centers.
Multi-clouds: These are a cloud approach made up of more than a single cloud service type and refers to a distribution of assets across several cloud environments. Multi-cloud and hybrid clouds are often interchangeably used. However, it is prudent to make note that all hybrid clouds are multi-cloud, whereas the reverse is not valid. Multi-clouds are hybrid clouds when some form of integration or orchestration connects multiple clouds. Organizations opt for multi-cloud if they are looking to improve both security and performance and may have data that needs to be physically present in a particular geographical location.
Types of cloud service models:
Cloud service models are generally divided into three main types. All three have similar capabilities but varied offerings.
IaaS: Infrastructure-as-a-Service manages the cloud infrastructure for the organization by providing data storage and virtual servers. The client can access the IaaS through an API to manage resources while the cloud itself takes care of the data center and networking capabilities.
PaaS: Platform-as-a-Service offers a cloud service provider that manages a plethora of databases, servers, and software development tools. The client has full control over the applications running on top of the platform.
SaaS: Software as a Service provides comprehensive software solutions for enterprises. These are generally web or mobile applications that users can access through a browser. Most SaaS solutions provide remote Maintenance support, and its model forgoes the need to install the app locally on the individual’s local system.
Creating a cloud approach tailor-made for your organization
Businesses around the world are embracing various forms for cloud computing since the cloud has the power to leverage their benefits and give them a competitive advantage. Before any company thinks of moving to a cloud resource model, what are the key steps that need to be kept in mind?
Having a financial strategy: Moving to a cloud environment is bound to have quite a bit of initial cost overhead. Identifying the financial strain, that cloud migration is going to cost a company and having a robust strategy in place is paramount to the success of cloud migration in any company. Most cloud computing models are funded by an Operational Expense (OPEX) model rather than a Capital Expense (CapEx) one. However, in some cases, initial IT investments are required to set up the infrastructure for private cloud methods. This distinction wholly depends on the kind of organization and its business requirements.
Business goals: Though most companies move to cloud for ease of operations and higher revenue, the industry leaders must examine the cloud strategy that they plan to use, allying with the digital transformation and profit goals of their organization. It would help to create a roadmap that will show key business objectives and how the organization will use cloud migration to help achieve it. There may be instances in which the data centers are located in a country that has varied privacy rules when compared to your organization. Possible future challenges like these need to be identified and solutions must be crafted that would be used in the event of an unlikely disruption.
Taking an asset inventory: It is mandatory to take an inventory assessment and get a summary of the entire work process, data, application, and performance characteristics. Data compliance requirements, dependency on hardware, infrastructure, and the mission-critical parts must be taken into consideration before cloud migration. Determine what level of migration is required for each asset and what level of refactoring and remediating is necessary when shifting operations to the cloud.
Selecting the right cloud strategy: Adopting the correct deployment for your cloud is crucial to the success of your cloud migration project. Private, public, hybrid, and multi-cloud models have their own set of advantages and challenges. Most organizations use a mix of many cloud models to empower their varied business needs. Security, cost, and rate of the possible growth of an organization are often taken into consideration when choosing a cloud model. If organizations are looking to offload initial investments involved in migrating resources to the cloud, then a public cloud is adopted. However, if the business has a significant amount of resources that have sensitive information, then it would be wise to invest in a private cloud model over which the organization has complete control. The majority of businesses use a mixture of different cloud models that provide support to varied business instances.
Planning for an exit strategy: Though the organization may have prepared for every eventuality, there may be instances when a migration project needs to be rolled back. This may be because the cost has gone above the budget allocated for cloud migration, or maybe because the company may have evolved to a different model and would no longer need cloud capabilities. An exit strategy would instruct an organization to plug out of a cloud migrations project if the odds are not in favor. To move the infrastructure and resources, back in-house, company leaders need to check if software licenses can be re-established and if the on-premise infrastructure is robust enough to serve the needs of the organization. Having a sound strategy in place before moving to the cloud will make the transition back much smoother.
Steps for cloud enablement:
Assessment: Before an organization migrates to the cloud, it is essential to take stock of the present situation of the on-premise infrastructure of your business and gather insights about business-critical processes. Once the initial inventory is done, specific networking and infrastructure requirements need to be identified. Workloads can also be classified as those of least priority to those which are highly critical and these can be migrated based on the order of importance.
Migration: Once the team has a detailed assessment report about the present scenario, cloud service experts begin to design architecture on the cloud. Servers, applications, services, and data migration is also set up. The cloud setup is tested for possible delays or downtimes. If any challenge is observed in this stage, cloud experts work with company leaders to fix them and improve the efficiency of the cloud service.
Automate & Optimize: Once the basics have been set up, the cloud model needs to be optimized to improve performance. Cloud migration experts must ensure that the cloud enablement strategy has not compromised existing operational efficiency. Multiple iterations are done to find the in-house teams to gauge the best performance for all assets and to ensure that the enablement process is allowing the organization to take advantage of the cloud’s varied features successfully.
Maintenance: Once the cloud enablement project for the organization has been thoroughly assessed and deemed a success, company leaders must think of ways to maintain it. In-house technical professionals may not always have the expertise required to fix cloud-based errors efficiently. Companies may opt for a 24/7 remote monitoring model; Service-Level Agreement (SLA) or a more convenient maintenance program that fixes errors as and when they appear.
Industry leaders predict that cloud services will be a $299.4 billion worth industry in the next few years, and almost all IT services will be cloud-sourced. With the rapid increase in cloud adoption, it has the power to change the way enterprises provide services to their clients fundamentally. Enterprises that have a detailed plan for digital transformation will be bound to be on top of the market, with high-responsive, scalable, cost-effective solutions. However, to gain the full benefits of a cloud migration setup, organizations need to overcome barriers like increased operational overhead. Leverage existing knowledge of the cloud and its capabilities to successfully deploy and maintain the cloud strategy required for your organization. Multiphased roadmaps that email the cloud strategies will certainly help in avoiding technical and organizational glitches when moving to the cloud.