Are You Ready for the Cloud?

In almost every organization’s internal meetings and corridors, there’s a lot of chattering about whether cloud computing is an option that can bring tangible benefits or not, and if it’s time for moving to the cloud. In this brief post, I will point out some issues why you should consider moving your business's IT resources to the cloud.

Moving to the cloud can be a very challenging project. As well as the new technology implementations, there are some considerations you have to follow to minimize the risk of failure when considering the option of moving to the cloud. To put it simply, consider this basic step-by-step common strategy: define, measure, explore, and describe.

Define What to Move to the Cloud
To start, it’s important to define primarily what you are going to move to the cloud: data, processes, or both. There are a vast number of options when taking this into consideration. Depending on what you are planning to move to the cloud, it will be necessary to consider what you will need in terms of cloud model providers:

•    A software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider: to move your data to the cloud and let a vendor provide you with the necessary applications
•    A platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider: to provide you with all the facilities to support all the software development cycle processes
•    An infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider: to provide you with a fully integrated cloud infrastructure (servers, storage, applications, etc.)

As you can see, you will need to explore a varied number of possibilities. Consider the resources or components subject before moving to the cloud.

Measure the Risk and Cost
How important or vital is the data or processes you are moving to the cloud? This is the question you will need to answer in order to determine the cloud movement feasibility. Considering that data and processes are vital resources of your organization, you have to make some basic risk considerations based on these resources: the risk of the resources to be exposed or becoming public; the risk of letting a third-party manipulate these resources; the risk of not having the expected result by using the cloud; the risk of not having certain resources available for a period of time (downtime); etc. It’s important to make a serious risk assessment regarding all your resources.

Explore the Possibilities
Once addressed, all possible risks it will be important to consider the possible cloud deployment types. There are some options that you will have to explore depending on the type of resource you will be moving to the cloud: a public cloud, a private cloud, a hybrid solution, etc. It will be important to gain knowledge about the actual offers and the possibilities for moving to the cloud.

With a better understanding of the possible paths for your cloud adventure, you can consider and evaluate your potential service providers. Evaluate providers using common criteria like cost, regulatory compliance, service and support, as well as specific sets of criteria like infrastructure, technology, security. Put special emphasis on the degree of risk control you can put on your providers for assessing a risk management strategy.

Describe the Information Flow
Describe the information flow between all components of your cloud infrastructure (your organization, the cloud service, and all additional nodes, if any). This stage is very important to gain a clear view regarding all phases of the information cycle and is useful with providing you and your providers a better understanding of your actual needs, criteria to meet, and expected results. With this information you could make a serious consideration to move your resources to the cloud.

Of course, addressing the challenge of a cloud adventure is by no means an easy task, but considering a method to define, measure, explore, describe can be helpful when considering a moving to the cloud. It can help detect the risks involved, and evaluate the possible scenarios for a deployment, which can help you decide whether or not it’s time to consider moving your information resources to the cloud.

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