Migrate To The Cloud Or Fold -An Ultimatum?
Using Due Diligence As Your Compass To Navigate Out Of The Pickle
By: Chris Otudero
Technology, like law, has become a mandatory partner for any business. Using the power of technology to scale a business is a core process and imperative to the growth of the business. Jarrod Levitan, Chief Cloud Officer, TriNimbus and Mike Burke, Manager, Velocity Enablement, Farm Credit Canada presented navigation tips for cloud migration at the CIO Peer Forum 2018 in Vancouver.
As a business grows, there will come a time when the business owner or the IT manager will have to answer the question of whether to embark on a cloud migration journey. A journey that will require you to re-imagine your business technology, do the unthinkable -store some or all your data in the cloud before you take the next leap. This will require a redesign of your business application landscape, changing the way your organization interacts with your technology system.
Fear not, there is a good case to support embarking on a cloud migration journey. In fact, the case for it is so strong that the US government has endorsed the practice. FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) is a certification program created by the US government to certify cloud vendors who meet some very stringent security requirements and other conditions. A vendor certified by FedRAMP is worthy of hosting several US government departments’ data center. Click for the list of currently certified vendors.
Conduct Due Diligence
Before embarking on your journey to the cloud, the only way to be successful and be happy with your decision is to conduct due diligence at every stage of the process.
A cloud solution is not a one-size-fits-all solution. While conducting your due diligence, it is imperative that you consider your journey into the cloud from an application point of view with a focus on viability, security, cost, availability, scalability, data recovery, and performance.
Not all applications and data are suitable for the cloud:
- Complex applications, such as video editing software, graphic design software, and mission-critical applications -consider private cloud.
- Strictly regulated and sensitive data, such as medical data or data for which your business will be 100% liable regardless of the vendor at fault and applications that require an incident report and forensic investigation -physical access to every device that the application or data is stored is required. This is impractical as servers can span regions globally.
- Applications that provide a competitive advantage and need your full control.
- Applications that need re-write, are not scalable in the cloud or requires extraordinary hardware to be hosted in the cloud. Moreover, if migration to the cloud creates additional complexities as a result, an on-premise solution is optimal.
Additionally, your business Internet connection must be highspeed, licensing must be considered – is the licensing per infrastructure footprint, per VM or per core? And most importantly, the RoI of cloud migration must be better than hosting your data center on-premise.
Here are some more considerations and benefits:
A cloud solution can facilitate a faster time to market compared to using the traditional method to get to market. Prototyping a new product or launching a startup can be a breeze when using a cloud solution because the cloud platform is a template and a ready-made scaffolding that gives you a head start. You can start small and scale as needed. The amount of time and resources designated to managing your business technology can be redirected to optimizing and growing your business. Sweat equity is very valuable and must be dispensed conservatively to maximize RoI.
Robust Disaster Recovery (DR) and business continuity:
A sound disaster recovery strategy must be in place to ensure business continuity. A cross-cloud implementation is the soundest method for redundancy and fail-over. Cloud or not, no system is fail-safe! It is unrealistic to expect any infrastructure to be completely fail-safe. A reasonable strategy is to put in place a cross-cloud redundancy and replication system for best business continuity. An optimal setup would be to subscribe to two cloud providers (Example: Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure) -this eliminates any dependencies usually inherent when using only one cloud provider. The two clouds should be in two separate regions as far apart as possible but within the same country (Example: East coast and West coast) – a natural disaster that knocks out power in one region is unlikely to occur at the same time in a faraway region. Additionally, keeping the cloud servers in the same country eliminates dealing with different regulatory compliance in multiple countries. Then configure the two clouds to replicate for redundancy with one failing over to the other. If implemented right, your business technology downtime will be non-existence.
How secure is the facility relative to on-premise? What are the security and breach policies? Just as mass transit vehicles are reportedly safer on the roads than passenger vehicles, a cloud security team is more resourceful than an on-premise implementation. The security resources available from the cloud vendor is more cost-effective compared to on-premise setup using the same amount of resources.
Collective Effort To Cut Waste And Pollution:
Migrating to the cloud is akin to embracing and using the mass-transit system in your locality -it helps save the planet. Conversely, not migrating to the cloud does not mean the opposite; it means your use case, or your current business process does not currently justify migrating to the cloud.
Leveraging The Power Of Economies Of Scale To Improve Your Competitive Advantage:
The cost of a toll-free number used to be prohibitive to small businesses, and a toll-free number was only used by larger enterprises as a competitive advantage until the advent of VoIP which disrupted and democratized the telecom industry. The cloud has brought the same power to the business world.
If there is a compelling case to migrate to the cloud, then the power of economies of scale inherent in a cloud solution will fuel the growth of your business. The superpowers of competitive advantage have been bestowed on to you much like the large enterprises. With the cloud solution, you will be able to lower your overhead costs and pass the savings to your customers -a fundamental element of customer retention.
When you are initially journeying into the cloud, a hybrid option is a safer bet than total immersion. It may, however, be that the result of your due diligence does not find a case for the migration to the cloud at that time but as you grow, the case to migrate to the cloud might become more compelling.
Cloud solution, if done right, offers many benefits for a business. However, a cloud migration journey that lacks due diligence, will not only cause undue pain but also deprive an organization the opportunity to leverage the immense benefits, too many to count, that cloud solution has to offer.
Chris Otudero, Fullstack, MCSE, A+, BA, Senior UI-UX Engineer, GlobalTech Networks