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You are a CIO/IT Director and your CFO has informed you that the organization wants to decrease the amount of capital investment in hardware, software, and real estate required in running data centers. The CFO wants you to transform these capital expenses into operating expenses and show a significant shift in next year’s budget. How will you accomplish this? What’s the impact on the organization? What’s the financial feasibility?
Below are five considerations for planning a cloud transformation.
Five Considerations for Planning a Cloud Transformation
Know your internal skillset. Before embarking on a cloud transformation journey, it’s extremely important to take inventory of your internal team and to know their skillset. Enterprises that have been operating in a private data center environment generally have a team built on the technologies within that environment and infrastructure. With that being the case, does the team have the knowledge and understanding necessary to execute a public cloud migration, and can they support it? If there are knowledge gaps, you must forecast time and investment in training to fill these gaps or evaluate the need to outsource.
Review your current environment. This seems to be a pretty simple statement, and one that at first glance, you might think, ‘What do I need to review, I know my environment!’ The real challenge is HOW well do you know your current environment? Do you understand which applications will run in a virtual environment? Do you have historical performance data on each of your servers running at their maximum usage?
What percentage of the time do these servers run at that usage rate? What is the average usage? What is the inbound and outbound network throughput flowing through your data center? What applications am I running in my data center? Are these applications ‘home grown’ or ‘off the shelf’?
Reviewing and understanding the real processing levels and performance of your environment enable you to make informed decisions and budget for a cloud infrastructure architecture. If you don’t have a grasp on this information, it can lead to a cloud architecture that underperforms and creates headaches for your organization.
Understand your user environment. This brings us to the user environment. Sure, moving to a public cloud provides cost and operational flexibility that may not be present in a private data center, but is it at the expense of a quality user experience? If your organization has a culture of users that work 8 to 5 at a desk within the same building as your data center, then perhaps a full ‘lift and shift’ to a public cloud will cause chaos among your users. Change management is extremely important and cannot be overlooked when developing a plan for cloud transformation.
Users should understand the changes, how these changes affect how they complete their work tasks, and what these changes will do to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness in completing daily tasks. You must address the ‘What’s in it for me?’ aspect of these changes and provide the user groups with constant communications and updates on the transformation, and how it will impact their interaction with business applications.
Evaluate hardware and software life cycles. Not to be confused with the earlier point of reviewing your environment which focused on the performance, evaluating the life cycle of your hardware and software will help identify areas in which a migration may need to take place now before a large capital investment needs to be made. Are there servers that are old and underperforming that you were planning on replacing? Is there old Windows software running on servers that are end of life for support?
Are there applications that have annual maintenance fees that are more expensive than moving to a SaaS offering of that application? Does your Exchange server need to be replaced and the software upgraded? Can we lower our maintenance costs on network switches and router equipment if we were to decrease our server footprint? Taking a hard look at these questions can be a great way to start to build the business case for a cloud transformation and begin to realize some immediate cost benefits. This takes us to our final consideration that ties this all together.
Build a transformation roadmap. Once you’ve done your due diligence through the four previous points, you’re now ready to build your cloud transformation roadmap. From the information that has been gathered, you should be able to prioritize what applications can be moved to the cloud, what applications are candidates for a transformation to SaaS (Microsoft Exchange to Office365, for example), and what applications may need to stay within the current data center environment.
Remember, not all applications are suitable for a public cloud infrastructure. Your roadmap and budget should address this. Once you have identified a realistic roadmap for the cloud transformation and have presented the business case to the proper stakeholders, you will then be positioned to plan and execute your cloud transformation.
Creating a cloud transformation roadmap will impact the organization from top to bottom. Taking the proper steps to identify immediate areas of positive financial and user impact for the organization will create momentum that will allow for a successful overall transformation. Preparation and communication are key throughout the organization. Don’t be afraid to reach out to providers that specialize in aligning business and technology requirements to build the roadmap and fill the skill gaps and ensure a successful cloud transformation.
NTT Consulting Services coupled with Multi-cloud Managed Hosting Services can assist in evaluating your current environment, building a roadmap to cloud transformation, and a strategy for operational, security and cost governance across all virtual environments. Our Managed Services division has expertise in planning, migrating, monitoring and managing on-premises, private and multiple cloud provider environments in a single, consistent manner across all infrastructures.