CIOs Guide to Smooth Cloud Transition

Article by Karan Kirpalani

Deciding to shut down an on-premise systems and migrating to the cloud is not easy. CIOs and business leaders contemplating this strategic move need to primarily analyze if migration to the cloud is necessary and if it will give their business a competitive edge. What is your reason for migration? You need to have well-defined and concrete metrics to exemplify success, and prove credibility for your cloud transition initiatives.

CIOs experience a sense of fear when it comes to shifting data and applications to the cloud, as there is no clear roadmap for transition and “one-size-fits-all approach” does not work. Here are some tips and strategies for CIOs to help ease their business transition to the cloud with lower risks.

Security in focus

Data security is being compromised on the cloud. Does this hold true? This is one major worrisome factor for CIOs considering cloud transition. Moving to the cloud does save money, bring in efficiencies, flexibilities and scale, but the efforts can soon turn futile if key intellectual property concerns are not addressed at the onset, such as accounts, transactions and data security on the cloud. Always choose cloud storage offerings with multiple layers of security and trust based on capabilities of the CSP to enforce and audit policies regularly.

Take small steps and calculated risks

Do not transition whole of your data center to the cloud at one go. Remember to take small wise steps and start off slowly by moving partial data to the cloud. As a CIO, you need to decide which part of data can be readily moved to cloud at the beginning, and those which can be moved at a later stage or never. For example, it could be a small office application or a public website that you choose to move to the cloud initially.

Only transfer those systems or applications to the cloud initially with low-risk involvement. Also something, that can be easily carried out on the cloud with no IT or technical support requirement. Do not set high expectations from cloud as you begin. It is advisable to progress gradually and embrace the change.

Remember to have a business continuity plan in place, in case of contingency or if the transition time is longer than expected.

Choose your cloud vendor carefully

Evaluate the network infrastructure of your cloud service provider carefully to understand the traffic patterns and aggregation points. While it is relatively easy to find cheaper options, what your business needs is peak performance and enhanced security. Understand, evaluate and compare current costs incurred (on staff, software licensing, equipment, infrastructure, security, compliances, etc.) with those offered by the cloud service provider. Take conscious steps to avoid compromising on long-term business goals.

Understand “pay-as-you-go” model and SLAs

The cost model for different cloud computing deployments is different. While there are no large upfront costs, the operating expenses cannot be ignored.

Do not opt for licensed cloud payment model, if your company or business plan would require refreshing technology periodically in a time span of 3 to 5 years. As the refresh can take longer than the average cycles, hence “pay-as-you-go” model is widely preferred. According to this model, you will be charged for how much you use (processing, storage and sometimes bandwidth is included).

Read the Service Level Agreement (SLA) carefully, understand and clarify details before entering into a contract with the cloud service provider. Do not miss out on minute details in fine print.

Conduct cloud impact analysis

Leveraging unique capabilities of cloud is highly application dependent. So it is recommended to test requirements first, based on workload profiles, technology compatibility, bandwidth requirements, flexibility, etc. such as the opportunities offered by cloud translate to driving revenues and efficiency.

Almost every application migrated to the cloud environment holds some lingering connection with various other applications on the server. Hence, it is important to critically evaluate migration of applications to the cloud and the impact of these on the current connections. Make sure the workloads are cloud ready. Identify the complex applications that need continuous update and monitoring, before migrating them to the cloud. This will make cloud work for your business more efficiently.

Adhere to regulations and abide by law

Compliance is another issue influencing reluctance to shift. Therefore, make sure that your provider has the right controls and supportive documentation to prove certified and tested (SSAE 16 or ISAE3402) by an auditing firm of repute. You should also ensure that the CSP chosen does not breach any data security rules and is governed by law to comply with the industry standards and codes at all times.

Change the way you see cloud

Moving to cloud is generally viewed as a major shift in computing architecture that impacts operational costs and inner workings of an organization. Herein, organizations need to look beyond to see cloud as more than an infrastructural shift. It demands preparation, a new perspective to reflect change in attitudes towards inner workings of an organization. Best practices will inevitably undergo a phenomenal change as you embrace the transformation.

Cloud therefore provides technology, an opportunity to act as a catalyst and help businesses become more agile, flexible, engaged, efficient, and highly social.

In conclusion

Progressive CIOs are now turning to cloud to help reduce business complexities and increase focus on value additions. Proper planning and due diligence is the key to success on cloud. Is your business cloud ready?