Improved efficiency, greater flexibility and hardened resilience are among the widely recognised benefits of using cloud server hosting and IaaS. Make sure that your business enjoys the full favour of these advantages by being alert to some of the most common oversights made in the cloud adoption process.
1. Proceed with clear business objectives
Today, cloud hosting is so accessible and (seemingly) simple to set up that it can be tempting to jump in and start using it with minimal preliminary work. However, approaching a move into cloud with only a vague idea of what it is you want to achieve may result in you missing out on some key benefits of the platform, or ending up with a solution that isn’t suitable for your needs.
So, as tempting as it might be to fire up your first virtual machine, take time instead to work with a provider in gaining a fuller understanding of TCO and ROI (and find out which cloud model works best for you, be it individual cloud servers or a full IaaS environment and the choices therein), and remember to explore all of the indirect costs around support, migration and refactoring – even the impact of retiring servers before they reach end-of-life (and if a hybrid IT approach may be suitable).
2. Not all cloud providers are the same
As the cloud market becomes increasingly commoditised, it’s easy to assume that one provider offers pretty much the same as the next. However, providers can vary greatly in terms of support, redundancy, connectivity, security and more.
Further, the importance of these factors will depend on what you want and need from your cloud environment – even more reason then, to draw up that aforementioned plan before jumping in.
Make sure to carry out a thorough audit by examining accreditations, policies and management, and ask potential providers for customer references, case studies and evidence of successful outcomes.
3. Address compliance and security requirements early on
If you and your clients have specific security and compliance requirements, make sure that they will be accommodated at an early stage of your due diligence, and well in advance of any deployment.
This may seem like a box-ticking exercise (where you look to the provider’s data centre for accreditations like ISO27001 and PCI DSS, for example), but bear in mind that compliance and security considerations can be complex when a third-party is involved.
For a successful migration, be sure to assess the full range of risk factors and explore how much control you’ll have over your data in the long run.
4. Have a full understanding of the TCO
Improved cost efficiencies might be a big part of your motivation to move some or all of your IT workloads to the cloud, especially when the cost-saving aspect of cloud is so widely touted.
However, it’s important to be aware of and take into consideration any hidden and indirect costs that might be a part of your move to cloud.
5. Knowledge and skill requirements are key to success
To ensure that your cloud deployment gives you the best possible outcome, you may require additional skill and expertise. Depending on your particular scenario, this might mean choosing a provider that can provide any additional support required, or you may need to invest in training for your in-house teams or even hire new staff.
Indeed, the availability of expertise may well inform your decision about which type of cloud deployment you ultimately choose – whether that’s an off-the-shelf, fully managed cloud server or a virtual data centre where you call all the shots. Cloud can be an empowering technology, but making sure that you can use your environment effectively is a vital aspect of every deployment and a key part of your ROI.
6. Keep things flexible, where possible
As an IT professional, you’re probably already aware of the advantages of taking the out-of-the-box route when deploying a new solution, and with the cloud, it’s no different.
The temptation to customise to the nth degree is all too easy when you have sophisticated cloud management tools, but this can create dependencies on certain skills - internal or external - that make it difficult to adapt and change in the future.
An overly configured platform can lead to a captive environment where it can become difficult to support new applications. Further, it may be problematic when attempting to template your environment for future migration projects due to incompatibilities with your wider organisation.
7. Test, test… And test again
It seems an obvious point to conclude with, but you can steer your business clear of unnecessary disruption (and avoid a lot of launch anxiety) by testing your cloud environment thoroughly before going live. Be methodical and make sure you test support processes too. After all, you don’t want to go to the time and trouble of a migration and end up needing to roll back to your previous set up.
Where appropriate, it is sometimes advisable to run your cloud environment concurrently with your existing set-up, and gradually move workloads from one to another in a phased manner – something we’ve helped a few of our customers do with our own UK cloud hosting platform.