By Andrew Wild, Cloud Product Manager at GCI.
The Cloud Industry Forum published the results of the most recent Cloud adoption survey last year, revealing that the UK adoption rate is now a remarkable 88%, and that over two thirds of users expected to increase their adoption of Cloud services in 2018. IT research company Gartner also claim that by 2020, a quarter of the addressable IT market will be Cloud. It’s clear that Cloud is here to stay, but how should businesses begin their move to the Cloud?
It’s an old cliché that rings true – every journey starts with a single step. A move to the Cloud may start with the deployment of a single application; perhaps Microsoft Exchange, Skype for Business or Teams. This can be extended out to one line of business, to a key department or an entire site. Another cliché is “fail to plan and plan to fail”, but this also applies to Cloud adoption. Planning is key to not only understanding what a business needs, but also to setting out clear success criteria. Benefits can be realised quicker, take-up will be smoother, and employees will be happier.
With businesses needing to balance costs against risk and timelines against stakeholder pressure, a step-by-step approach has been proven time and again as the only approach to Cloud adoption. Hybrid solutions – where part of an application or some elements of infrastructure remain on-premise – are still very common and are fast becoming the norm. We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the entire business will be effected when it embarks on Cloud migration; the digital transformation that this migration requires touches the way everyone will work and access information, as well as affecting the financial model, IT operations, data security and much more.
Here are the biggest questions that need to be answered when planning for migration to the Cloud:
Q: What should I do first?
A: Cloud adoption may require a fundamental change in business practices, especially if moving towards a Managed Service. The business may need to be rearchitected to take advantage of the Cloud and this will include new business processes to enable integration and adoption. Not all applications and workloads are suitable for moving to the Cloud, so define your goals and avoid or minimise cost overruns, late delivery and security issues.
Q: Will my internet connection be sufficient for my new Cloud service?
A: Joining a Cloud service makes your internet connection even more critical. Not only will reliability be key but bandwidth is also crucial, so consider how much data will move around and prepare accordingly.
Q: What compliance is required for data in the Cloud?
There are three key pieces of information you need to know:
- Where your data is located and whether it will be segregated from other organisations’ data.
- How it will be transmitted to the Cloud?
- How it will be secured on that Cloud platform?
You may decide that some highly-confidential data will always remain on an internal network and will not move to the Cloud. Alternatively, if you do want Cloud-based storage solution then consider a Private Cloud platform where you could have access to both the physical and logical infrastructure. It’s essential to work with your Cloud provider to decide which data will reside on their Cloud services, how they’re going to protect it, how they’re going to back it up and whether you reserve the right to audit the security and compliance framework that they build around your data.
Q: Will the performance of my existing web applications be affected?
A: Potentially, if your web applications have built-in assumptions about the proximity of application and database servers. You need to determine whether you would suffer noticeable performance degradation if you moved to the Cloud, so consider running the Cloud infrastructure in parallel and migrating users in batches.
Q: Can I entrust a third party with my data?
A: Choose the correct partner and yes, a third party can be trusted with your data. However, ultimately you are responsible for where you put your own data, as well as for choosing an appropriate backup strategy. It should be done regularly, and a copy stored off-site or with your chosen Cloud provider. And it goes without saying, keep it encrypted everywhere.
Q: What if I don’t have the right skills or people to adopt Cloud?
A: You can look at outsourcing some or all of your Cloud to a Managed Services Provider like GCI. If that’s not an option, you must identify and address these skill gaps before moving, ensuring you have the right people to operate Cloud workloads efficiently and securely at scale.
There is no “big bang” when it comes to Cloud adoption. It’s not a lift-and-shift operation; think evolution, not revolution. Want to learn more? To provide your business with insight into the WHAT, WHY and WHO of the Cloud and to help you develop a viable blueprint for migration, GCI are hosting a FREE, interactive workshop in Southampton on the 6th June. To learn more about the event and register, click here.
Andrew Wild is the Cloud Product Manager at GCI
Andy is an experienced Product Manager in IT and Telecoms, and is responsible for driving performance and development across a varied portfolio of hosted/Cloud products. He works closely with all departments across the business, including the Technical teams, Marketing, Finance and Customer Services. Andy also holds a Master’s Degree in Strategic Marketing from The Manchester Metropolitan University and is PRINCE2 qualified.