What is the Cloud?
One of the most critical technology changes that businesses have faced in the past several years is the rapid development and deployment of Cloud-based resources. Essentially, a Cloud environment is an entire IT infrastructure based at one or more central off-premises site(s), which are segregated privately for a company’s use as part of a large multi-tenant infrastructure. The private tenant is jointly managed by an independent provider (hardware) and the business (virtual servers, applications, user control, etc.)
Why the Cloud?
There are many reasons that businesses are embracing Cloud computing benefits, such as lowering IT costs. For example, with Office 365 and Azure, Microsoft takes care of the physical servers and makes sure they are up and running within the contracted service level agreement (SLA). The fees for this service are significantly lower than having the equivalent servers on-premises and have internal IT staff manage them.
- Increased productivity and scalability of resources as a business grows.
Common misconceptions about the Cloud
However, there is something of a misconception in adopting the Cloud as an “Infrastructure as a Service” (IaaS). This is the notion that adopting a Cloud environment is a simple plug-and-play operation (i.e. subscribe to a Cloud service, create a tenant, set up virtual servers and users, start working).
In order to ensure success, businesses need to take into account that adopting the Cloud as an IaaS requires planning and execution, just as an on-premises environment would. However, the actual planning and execution of a Cloud IaaS involves a different way of thinking; something businesses need to recognize and incorporate into their Cloud adoption strategy.
Difference between the Cloud and the on-premises model
The most important differences in adopting the Cloud are that a company’s IT leaders need to focus more on positive outcomes such as business satisfaction, user experience, and value, rather than the old on-premises model that focused on the technology itself.
IT stakeholders will need to develop roles and processes to continuously use the daily opportunities to continuously decrease costs – not just for cost savings but to increase satisfaction and value to the organization.
Cloud computing benefits
The Cloud’s most important contribution to a business’s operation is that it creates new opportunities to align IT capacity planning, capacity management, and cost visibility.
- Analytic tools help forecast demand and identify opportunities for efficiency. These tools greatly improve the ability to forecast a business’s current and future capacity needs.
- A Cloud environment’s capacity can be provisioned and de-provisioned in minutes, driving efficiency and quality of service by diminishing gaps between supply and demand.
- Network-based management consoles enable self-provisioning on demand, decreasing project delays and administrative overhead.
- Granular metering enables IT to track costs to specific projects, business units, and users for greater visibility into spend in relation to capabilities and benefits.
These benefits are quite significant when compared to a traditional on-premises environment:
Traditional on-premises environment
- More hardware has to be purchased as needed or planned – this takes time.
- Very difficult to match current and planned capacity to actual usage.
Public Cloud environment (IaaS)
- Capacity is allocated on demand in a matter minutes, aligning capacity with usage.
- Flexibility must be managed to attain the most value and reduce any over/under use.
Risks and challenges
While adopting a Cloud environment has definite advantages, businesses need to remember there are also risks and challenges involved, such as:
- The Cloud makes it easy to manage infrastructure, reactively making it too easy to overlook critical capacity planning and miss opportunities to decrease medium- and long-term costs.
- Giving more people the ability to self-provision resources gives more people the ability to over-provision excess capacity at excess cost and potentially fail to de-provision after it is needed.
- Holding users and business units accountable for costs requires time, effort, accountability processes, and soft skills to follow up and deal with disagreements and push-back.
Now that we have defined the Cloud computing benefits, as well as any inherent challenges of a Cloud-based environment, the next blog post will discuss the three different approaches in adopting a Cloud environment.
If you want to learn about the many advantages a Cloud-based environment can provide for your business and the strategies to deal with the risks and challenges, contact us and we will be happy to provide you insight.