Cloud Infrastructure Architect and TBI Tech Guru, Jim Demetrius, shares his insight on how to successfully move customers to the cloud – the conversations that need to be had and considerations that need to be made.
Your customers want to move to the cloud and they want it to be cheap, fast, painless and maintenance free – that is a tall order, especially given the many factors to consider before diving into a cloud infrastructure solution. Here are important considerations when talking cloud –
- Cloud Choices
- Business reasons
- Economic reasons
- Functionality and flexibility
- Accessibility for where your customers will be consuming from
- Capacity planning – strategic vs. tactical
- Expansion and growth
As a Cloud Infrastructure Architect, my job is to help partners and customers decipher business requirements and relate them to a cloud architecture solution that works for their business. There are certainly many choices for cloud providers, both public and private, as well as where cloud applications can be located. Businesses can choose to stay in the US or venture into the global space, particularly if their business requires data to be secure and maintaining data sovereignty for specific countries.
When I have conversations with customers looking to move or expand their infrastructure to the cloud, I start by asking what the customer’s definition of the cloud is when it comes to their infrastructure needs. Everyone has a different interpretation, whether it is public cloud vs. private cloud or managed cloud vs. self-serviced. Public cloud uses shared resources such as CPU’s, RAM, Storage and Network as opposed to a private cloud that has dedicated resources to be used by one customer. Hybrid clouds can be a combination of public, private or dedicated standalone servers to fit a solution.
Once we are on the same page as far as what a cloud is, we move onto the business discussion - what needs to be accomplished using cloud computing? In its simplest form, cloud compute resources can replace the on-premise infrastructure used to serve the compute needs of applications, databases and web servers used to run business operations.
One of the best ways to start your customer’s cloud journey is to do an assessment of the current infrastructure in use. Look at the applications in use, the network, the storage and the regions served (this can be domestic USA or international). Not all applications are suited for cloud computing and may need to remain on dedicated hardware or need to be re-platformed to make them work in the cloud. If applications need to remain on dedicated hardware, then the solution will be a hybrid cloud solution which is easily solved for with both private and public cloud providers.
There are different types of clouds available and many choices to choose from. The big public cloud providers that everyone is familiar with are AWS, Azure, GCP and Softlayer. The private cloud providers list is much larger as almost every datacenter provider and MSP has their version of a private cloud offering. Within both public and private cloud providers, you will find different hypervisors running the compute instances, from VMware ESX, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix Xenserver and Oracle VM as well some offering bare metal machines for customers to use as they see fit.
When it comes to choosing the right provider for cloud services, you need to consider the business reasons driving your customers to use cloud services. Cloud services are not necessarily cheaper, it all depends on how you consume them. When you consider public cloud resources, you need to realize and understand that the customer is paying for the resources they consume (CPU, RAM, storage and network) on an hourly basis. It behooves the consumer to use the resources wisely and efficiently, by turning off unused virtual machines, taking advantage of cheaper archival storage and sizing the virtual machines correctly. Right sizing the VMs is important because one of the biggest mistakes made when migrating to the cloud is that the customer needs the same resources (CPU, RAM, storage) as they did when they had their own datacenter. I already stated the importance of doing an assessment, it is important to asses all resources and only allocating what is needed to save money and easily scale cloud resources up and down as needed. The need to over provision and build large amounts of future capacity is removed by the cloud computing model.
We have covered the different types of clouds and considerations around build out only what is necessary to run the business. Services can be expanded as needed, allowing the customer to make more strategic and tactical decisions going forward. You can help customers significantly control costs by preventing them from over provisioning and paying for unnecessary resources. Cloud also makes business applications and systems more easily accessible to end-users and consumers, as there are many endpoints for deployment and secure access. The choice of where to put a business’ cloud is important as you need to plan for the tolerable latency of applications. Once you have chosen where to run the cloud, you can expand and contract as needed to meet business demands; cloud providers have automated tools for this very purpose.
Security need to be considered at all stages of the process when deploying resources to the cloud. This starts from the very early planning stages all the way through implementation and ongoing system support and maintenance. Security cannot be overstated as you need to protect the crown jewels of your customer’s business from being compromised. Along with security, comes the proper planning for business continuity and disaster recovery.
To summarize, start your customer’s cloud journey with an assessment of current systems and identify realistic goals for the cloud. There are many choices for cloud types, providers and locations and you will need to take the information from the assessment and use it to narrow the choices. Once down to a few select choices, engage in detailed conversations with all providers being considered and compare and contrast the differences between them. Remember, it is not all about the cost, customers must take into consideration the security, functionality, flexibility and accessibility of the cloud that they are looking to build. Lean on me as a resource – I am here as your Cloud Infrastructure Architect, helping to guide your customers through the cloud journey. Reach out to me at email@example.com. To learn more about TBI’s Tech Gurus or to book a time visit Tech Gurus.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim brings over 30 years of experience and has worked with fortune 100 companies to provide IT solutions that allow them to grow their business securely and cost effectively. He’s an accomplished Solution Architect working in all aspects of the IT lifecycle for business; solutions of focus include complex managed hosting, cloud, colocation and hybrid computing. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with him on LinkedIn.