A stepped approach to evolve towards cloud

Cloud computing is gradually sneaking into traditional business environments. The interest in cloud computing is picking up rapidly as organizations seek for flexibility and innovation (driven by the adoption of business and software services), but meanwhile reduce their costs (driven by the adoption of public services). Over the past years came cloud computing to maturity and cloud services are now widely available. The current pace of adoptions confirms my previous research work, which means that we can expect a massive adoption of cloud computing this year and next year. This evolution will change the way businesses are operated currently and moreover drastically impact the way IT services are provided. If your business has not started to look into the ability to exploit cloud, then you better start doing so before you will be squeezed out of business.

Unfortunately we see among IT suppliers that a lot of ‘cloud painting’ is done today; therefore lots of confusion is around. Traditional vendors, in particular local companies, rename their hosting and housing services towards cloud services without changing anything and without being really providing cloud services. These mid-sized and small-sized suppliers try to surf the cloud trend and use ‘cloud painting’ in their marketing approach.

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The evolution towards cloud services brings total flexibility in IT to meet business responsiveness. The industrialization of services leads to cost optimizations, which leads to a globalization of cloud service providers. Local suppliers operate datacenters up to a few thousand square meters (typically between 2.000 m² and 6.000 m²) and must now compete with global industrialized datacenters which are multiple times larger (typically starting from 50.000 m²). This trend pushes local companies into a difficult competitive position, unless they operate in a dedicated niche market.

Assuming you are convinced to move towards cloud, then the key question will be: how to move your organization and how to migrate your existing environment into the cloud? Let me take you through a stepped approach that brings you closer to cloud computing. I described in this blog the first step and will extend in the next blogs.


Step 1

1. Make the inventory of your workloads

If you want to move your existing environment towards to the cloud then in the first step you have to determine the constraints imposed on the information managed and used in your organization. Typically these are constraints due to legal obligations imposed by legislation, for example by Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the FDA, or the Federal Reserve / ECB. These constraints are typically applicable for certain data and certain applications, consequently applicable for certain workloads. Once you have the listed the constraints you can make the full inventory of your current workloads (data and applications). You can split the inventory of workloads into two lists, one with constrained workloads and one with un-constrained workloads. If a large majority of your workloads are constrained then it is recommended to start over and double check each workload.

To determine which applications are the best candidates to move into the cloud we will need more information on each of the workloads. Typically you need to gather additional information, here some examples of additional information used (but not limited to): workload technology (infrastructure, middleware, application architecture), processing size, storage size, network bandwidth and volume usage, application lifetime, infrastructure lifetime, support and maintenance agreements, and size of the internal support organization.

In my next blogs I will further elaborate on the next steps towards cloud. See this blog