The cloud has been around and has proved its mettle in terms of elasticity, flexibility, scalability, as well as speed. Moving to the cloud should be a no-brainer for organizations then, right? The reality however, is different. According to Gartner’s director of research, Sid Nag, “The aspiration for using cloud services outpaces actual adoption. Despite a high rate of predicted growth, challenges in cloud adoption and use still prevent a large number of organizations from having any current plans to move to the cloud services.”
The cloud is disruptive. Whether a business plans to adopt it partially or fully, there is some element of change management involved and that is one of the key concerns for organizational leaders. Here are five things every business should assess before making the big leap to the cloud:
#1 Cloud readiness:
Change management is tri-axial involving people, processes, and technology. Of these, the ’people’ factor matters most for organizations looking to adopt the cloud as more often than not, it’s the human reluctance to change that impedes the success of cloud initiatives. Workers are scared of losing their jobs, reluctant to acquire new skills and capabilities, and largely unsure of the business impact the move to cloud will bring. Another important aspect is the readiness of your application portfolio and infrastructure, which further determines the overall expenditure, complexity, strategy, and duration of cloud deployment. Should you lift and shift applications directly or re-architect them first to suit the cloud? Which workloads make the best candidates to migrate to the cloud? Should you retire some applications? These are critical questions a CIO must consider before rushing to the cloud.
#2 Cloud strategy:
Despite soaring cloud adoption, 52% of businesses lack a formalised cloud strategy. As a business, one of the critical questions to ask here is – “what are you trying to achieve by moving to the cloud? What are the short-term as well as long-term challenges you expect the cloud to solve for you – reducing datacenter footprint and costs, enhancing developer agility, improving time to market, etc.? Your cloud strategy will further determine which cloud model best suits your requirements – public, private, or hybrid. Nowadays large organizations are increasingly adopting a multi-cloud strategy that eliminates fear of vendor lock-in with a single provider, while allowing enterprises to switch providers leveraging the strong points of each to their advantage. 85% of enterprises currently have or are planning to go the multi-cloud way this year – up from 82% in 2016.
#3 Availability and performance:
‘Always-on’ mode of operations is no longer a nice-to-have for most businesses – it is a critical imperative for success. Before you move to the cloud, make sure you have assessed all the possible ‘what-if’ scenarios and their impact on business continuity. If you have multiple geographically disparate data centers, also consider the latency your business can take when replicating and accessing data. When it comes to moving performance sensitive applications to the cloud, exercise extra caution – any lag in application response time can cost your business dearly. Make sure you sign an SLA-bound agreement with your cloud provider.
The cloud’s elasticity and flexibility comes at a price – that of reduced visibility, control, and security across your application environment. According to Cloud Passage’s 2016 Cloud Security Spotlight Report, despite numerous advances, security still tops the list of barriers to cloud adoption. Misuse of employee credentials, improper access controls, insecure APIs, external sharing of critical information, and account hijacking are some of the common threats to cloud security. Businesses must exercise due diligence to look for a secure cloud service provider having two-factor authentication to ensure the integrity and security of their data is never compromised.
Cost reduction is a primary driver for most organizations that move to the cloud. However, if not executed and optimized well, cloud adoption can prove to be a huge drain on a company’s cost structure. The trick lies in knowing your workloads well and how the cloud can help manage those. For instance, an eCommerce retailer having predictable traffic peaks in the morning or evening hours can leverage the cloud to scale server capacity during those time slots without having to run peak servers all the time. This can help the e-tailer significantly cut costs while enabling greater economies of scale.
Going cloud-first will soon become a default choice
Gartner predicts that by 2020, a corporate no-cloud policy will be unheard of – almost as rare as a no-internet policy is today. The writing on the wall is clear for businesses – assess, evaluate, execute, and optimize a cloud solution that works for you. There are no short-cuts and challenges abound, but the benefits of cloud far outweigh the struggles.