Many businesses have not stayed up with the speed of the digital age. However, recent evidence has revealed steps toward business transformation allowing them to catch up with the help of cloud computing. Organizations must make specific changes to successfully virtualize their infrastructure and take advantage of key technologies like data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT).
“No matter the state of an organization’s IT, a move to the cloud will benefit from one thing—simplicity,” says Andy Daudelin, vice president, cloud and cloud networking, AT&T. “That could be a challenge. According to RightScale’s 2016 State of the Cloud Report, most businesses used more than three different cloud services in 2015. One way to accomplish this is to utilize platforms that help consolidate cloud service management.”
Signs your Business Remains Behind the Times
Almost every enterprise struggles with its business processes at some point in time. Organizations that rely on legacy processes may have the most problems. But it would remain a mistake to leap into a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model without proper preparation. Experts say an enterprise must exist in a state of readiness before moving to the cloud.
“Businesses are feeling pressure to move to a multi-cloud model but not everyone is ready for the journey,” says Mark Jamensky, executive vice president, products, Embotics, a cloud management platform company. “Step one is assessing if you are ready for cloud management automation. Before pulling the trigger, you need to assess five key components needed for cloud automation.”
According to Jamensky, these five components of cloud automation include:
- Resource optimization—properly configuring and utilizing all resources efficiently
- Lifecycle management—lifespan of virtual machines (VMs) and IT services can be anything from minutes to years
- Workflow & automation—manual support of the environment is unworkable; automated workflows/policy-based automation only ways to deal with complexity, policies, practices
- IT costing & chargeback—private cloud architectures based on concept of on-demand computing is a “dangerous” implementation without cost and consumption monitoring
- Self-service & service catalog—key features for any private cloud that enables admin teams and engages business teams with ability to request on-demand IT services and track requests
With these five pieces in place, you can consider adding cloud management to your converged infrastructure and data center and bring your business into the digital age, according to Jamensky.
Next page: connecting to the network, case study
Connecting to the Network
Demands of network maintenance and IT misalignment with the needs of the business hurt innovation. In fact, 75 percent of CIOs say the network is an issue that affects their ability to achieve corporate goals and increase revenue, according to Brocade, networking solutions provider, which recently rolled out a vendor neutral workflow optimization tool.
“Many businesses are faced with a simple challenge that keeps them from transitioning into the Digital Age, particularly with IoT technology—how to maintain reliable, secure and cost effective remote connections,” says William Behn, president, Tosibox Inc., provider of hardware-based VPN solutions. “The basic problem with remote connections has been the lack of standards and, as a result, the countless different ways of establishing internet connection and ensuring data security.”
What Tosibox proposes as a solution involves a new kind of device-based, end-to-end VPN that is plug-and-play, easy-to-use, secure and cost efficient. Such a solution could be deployed by anyone without IT expertise in minutes and create secure and reliable connections with IoT technologies.
Infrastructure: SaaS + On-premises = Hybrid?
In IT process business transformation, no single size fits all situations. The path to the cloud will remain different for every IT organization. Most likely, the average IT department will end up with a mix of cloud and on-premises solutions, leading to hybrid IT. Below are four ways an IT organization can progress down the cloud pathway, according to Gerardo Dada, vice president, product marketing, SolarWinds, a provider of IT management products:
- Do nothing—even if you “do nothing,” you will still find that you have a hybrid cloud environment. Nearly every organization uses SaaS applications like Dropbox or Salesforce
- Build a roadmap—IT departments can build a roadmap to develop the knowledge needed to make smart decisions when it comes to the cloud, even if the decision is to do nothing
- Have a hybrid cloud mindset—devops and the cloud have implemented new practices, tools and processes that bring benefits to development and IT operations
- Plan capacity and rightsize VMs—these can be undermined by overprovisioning, so capacity planning and rightsizing VMs is critical. Tools that offer visibility into/analysis of resources help
For example, a university in Florida that wanted to balance its costs for Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud with an on-premises solution developed and tested its own hybrid cloud model and looked at the tradeoffs—like the cost of adding staff to manage the private/hybrid cloud vs. paying a public cloud provider—and the relative security of each approach. Tailoring the cloud-brokering model for the university has been a true strategic weapon that speeds application deployment, improves IT agility and reduces costs, according to a spokesperson.
Migrating Legacy IT to the Cloud: a Case Study
Legacy IT solutions no longer offer speed and flexibility required to stay ahead of the competition nor the necessary user experience. think Procurement, a SaaS based e-procurement solution, looked to improve speed of delivery and digital capability, so it engaged cloud services partner RedBear IT to migrate from legacy hardware onto AWS and eliminate traditional storage by adopting Zadara Storage’s enterprise cloud storage as a service solution for data availability and recovery, according to the company. Steve Ash, COO, think Procurement, offers tips on transforming IT through cloud technology.
- Pay for what you use—think Procurement, like many businesses, expects growth. Legacy approaches to storage and compute require upfront purchase of equipment—usually more than needed, years in advance. With an “as a service” based solution like Zadara, think only pays for the resources it consumes. There are no upfront costs and a low barrier to entry
- Define your largest pain point and architect around it—think Procurement, which used AWS for compute and storage, had a requirement for cloud storage that replicated copy-out-of-cloud while supporting local client data privacy, which Zadara did without re-engineering the code
- Keep options open—business needs are constantly evolving. Cloud solutions provide flexibility to move fast and scale up or down or change underlying storage systems