How to choose the right cloud strategy for your business in 2015

Read the original article published on LinkedIn.

Cloud

Deciding on the right approach early on for your business is critical when it comes to cloud, as one mistake now can have organisation-wide consequences if data is lost or if IT teams are restructured to accommodate a new cloud service.

The UK Cloud Industry Forum reported in 2015 that 79% of organisations already consider cloud as part of their IT strategy, so most businesses are not questioning whether cloud is right for them, but in fact what’s next for their cloud strategy.  The Cloud Industry Forum predicts that by the end of 2015, 90% of UK businesses will be using at least one cloud service.

Cloud is permeating throughout the layers of businesses; where it was once used for testing activities or standalone applications, it is now being fully integrated and seen as an integral part of any company’s IT infrastructure.

 

So, what are we calling Public Cloud and Private Cloud?

A cloud is called a “public cloud” when the services are rendered over a network that is open for public use.  Technically there may be little or no difference between public and private cloud architecture at the hardware/software layer, however, security considerations may be substantially different for services (applications, storage, and other resources) that are made available by a service provider for a public audience and when communication is effected over a non-trusted network.

Private cloud is cloud infrastructure operated solely for a single organization, whether managed internally or by a third-party, and hosted either internally or externally. Undertaking a private cloud project requires a significant level and degree of engagement to virtualize the business environment, and requires the organisation to re-evaluate decisions about existing resources.

Between these definitions of Public and Private cloud, there exists a world of cloud scenarios, whether that is privately hosted multi-tenant cloud environments or onsite managed service offerings.

 

Think about data first and foremost

Data

If you use the public cloud, your data and its security will be in the hands of the public cloud providers and although it may be safe and they can be very persuasive around this point, it still demands a leap of faith.  Ensure early on that your public cloud provider can guarantee where data will be held; will it be within the UK, the EU or worldwide?  Some organisations may not be able to compromise on where their data is kept.

The private cloud model puts security and the data location in the hands of the data owners and real world enterprises, clients and legal bodies do demand this level of control.

 

Are your applications cloud ready?

Applications

Before you roll out further cloud services, it is important to spend some time reviewing your applications.  Not all applications are cloud-ready; some have been developed in house, some have been developed many years ago before multi-tenant environments were the norm and some are not able to run on standardised cloud hardware.  Cloud is often an instigator for organisations undertaking an application rationalisation program to understand how their applications are utilised and whether they can be ported to the cloud.

Standalone applications in the cloud look attractive and appear simple to deliver.  However, in the real-world, your business runs on many types of applications.   And some of those are mission critical applications that require specialist infrastructure and management to run effectively.  Can your public cloud provider deliver this level of bespoke service to ensure the smooth running of your most business critical applications?

With private cloud, the real-world enterprise owns the cloud and owns the decision of which language(s) to support. With the right technology, multilingual cloud app support becomes a reality.

Another issue that you may find with larger public cloud players is that support of the applications which maybe key for you is not a major consideration for them as they are only providing the platform.  When a problem does arise, it can be difficult to resolve if the software vendor and public cloud provider only look after their respective areas and do not engage.

 

Does cloud make sense for your business’s locations?

People in DC

Organisations with multiple locations, whether Europe, Asia, US or global need to address many a number of issues, including connectivity, time zones, languages and potentially very sensitive data.  Yet, no public cloud model is currently flexible enough to accommodate the moving myriad of different government’s regulatory red tape around the world, especially as most providers can be US led and focused. Private cloud architectures empower the real-world enterprise to accommodate the compliance requirements for clients.

Private cloud solutions enable the real-world enterprise to position its own cloud to support its international business objectives as private clouds providers can be more flexible in tailoring and managing individual solutions.

 

What is your growth trajectory?

Server Room

Public cloud architectures can deliver shared-resource efficiencies, utility computing and flexible scalability. Those benefits are seductive, but at times illusory. With the right technology, private clouds deliver on those promises; yet provide better security, better control and greater flexibility than public cloud alternatives.

For businesses that are expecting to grow their use of cloud services, their IT teams should critically assess the costs of growth with each of their potential cloud providers.

Most businesses do not like hidden costs; especially the Financial Director. There are numerous examples of how hidden costs can occur when working with a public cloud provider. The difficult pricing models mean that even the most financially astute individuals can have issues and be caught out with ‘hidden’ costs.  This is due to how pricing models are set out – letting organisations access public cloud services at low costs.  However each additional component or service usually incurs a charge, resulting in sometimes unexpectedly high costs at the end of the month.

Costs to be aware of include bandwidth, licencing, storage and processing all are variable and can be extreme in nature if the solutions are used ineffectively.

 

So what should we think about in future?

Working

With cloud adoption rates at 80% for large businesses and 75% for SMB organisations, successful integration of multiple cloud services will be one of the most important considerations for IT leaders.  Managing multiple public cloud providers is not an optimum position for IT teams, so it will be central to the success of any business to choose a trusted partner for their cloud services, who can aggregate multiple cloud solutions whilst offering an array of cloud ‘types’, from Public, to Private to managed hosting.

 

 

 

Images provided courtesy of theaucitron (https://www.flickr.com/photos/theaucitron), Texas A&M University (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tamuc), Torkild Retvedt (https://www.flickr.com/photos/torkildr) r2hox (https://www.flickr.com/photos/rh2ox), Intel Free Press (https://www.flickr.com/photos/intelfreepress), and Nic McPhee (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nicmcphee).

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