Cloud computing is proven to deliver many business benefits, enabling organizations to roll out new applications and services quickly and tap into technologies they might not otherwise be able to afford. That doesn’t mean, however, that organizations shouldn’t do their homework.
The fact is that the cloud isn’t the best platform for all applications, particularly those that have substantial computing power or network bandwidth requirements. Nor is the cloud ideal for certain industry-specific applications that require a specialized infrastructure or legacy and custom applications that you don’t want to update. On the flip side, organizations often fail to take advantage of cloud services that could provide a more reliable, flexible, secure and cost-effective infrastructure.
A strategic approach is the key to success with cloud computing, and an excellent place to start is with a cloud readiness assessment. This process first looks at your IT infrastructure to determine how you can best integrate cloud computing into your environment.
- Network. You need to ensure that you have enough network bandwidth to support the additional load imposed by the cloud. Inadequate bandwidth will limit the performance of cloud services, hampering productivity and the user experience.
- Servers. If you have servers supporting a single application that could be moved to the cloud, you could eliminate that underutilized equipment and the associated maintenance and support costs. Before replacing older, underperforming servers, ask whether you could forgo those capital investments by utilizing cloud infrastructure.
- Applications. Some applications, such as office productivity and customer relationship management (CRM) tools, are well established in the cloud and prime candidates for moving offsite. However, it’s critical to consider how the cloud might impact the performance of those applications and their interoperability with other systems.
Once you’ve determined which applications and services can most effectively be shifted to a cloud platform, it’s important to assess the cloud solution:
- Performance. What kind of workload demands will the application place on the infrastructure? Can the cloud environment support those demands? What are the potential bottlenecks? It’s important to perform testing during peak loads in order to evaluate how well the cloud solution meets business requirements.
- Availability. Which applications need to be highly available, which can accept downtime and how much downtime is acceptable? What are the risks to the business if data is unavailable? It’s important to remember that cloud services rely on the Internet, which is a best-effort delivery mechanism.
- Manageability. Does the cloud provider offer ongoing management and support? What are the SLAs associated the support component? You should determine what your organization is accountable for versus what you should expect from the cloud provider.
- Security. How does the cloud provider segment the environment to prevent customer overlap? Is the provider’s infrastructure secure? You should consider the risks associated with a multitenant environment and how to address standards and compliance.
- Compliance. Where will your data reside, who will interact with it and how? It is critical that you understand the division of responsibilities for compliance and can ensure that the cloud provider is following appropriate standards.
As with any IT initiative, it’s imperative to align the architecture — compute, network, storage and other resources — with each application’s performance, reliability, security and other requirements. A cloud readiness assessment addresses these considerations and helps you gain maximum advantage from cloud services.
The move to the cloud can be complex but the experts at Atlantic-IT.net are here to help you design the right solution. Contact us to schedule a strategic consultation and cloud readiness assessment.