The fairly new kid on the block is the current apple of the eye of CFOs (chief finance officers). Cloud computing is saving them dollars and making their portfolio stronger each day. In the recent past, IT infrastructure always eats up the largest chunk of the organization’s budget.
With the entrée of cloud migration and the business outsourcing server management, CFO can now re-allocate the usual expenses for maintenance and manpower to other lucrative departments, or book as company’s savings. And since costs on cloud services are predictable, forecasts and actuals are almost always congruent.
If you are looking for a vehicle to tame your IT budget, this is the perfect time to think about migrating to cloud. The reasons to transition to cloud are compelling. But any changes do not come without risk.
Here is a checklist of good-to-know bits and pieces before you pack your bags and fly to the cloud.
1. Ask questions… that you need to answer afterwards
Where do I start? What would be the impact of cloud computing to my business? What kind of model would the perfect fit to my organization? Do I need ecommerce hosting packages or just the regular ones? How do I address security and compliance with cloud?
Live and breathe insanity for just this once. After listing down these queries, critically answer one by one. Interrogating yourself is actually a good way to evaluate your needs and wants, and to outline your plans of actions.
2. Avoid buying wholesale
While the promise of dollar savings is demonizing your pocket, stick to what you just need. More often than not, you will not be able to use the entire package that vendors are selling you.
Assess your current infrastructure, investments and needs. Does your business require cloud hosting for software only? Is there a need to migrate majority of the IT infrastructure, servers, network, etc.?
Cloud migration is not like buying 6 packs of milk for the price of 3. We’re talking about a substantial amount of money, when saved, could be diverted to other lucrative IT or non-IT projects.
3. Dodge the “Big Bang” Theory
Pacify your over eagerness to outsource everything. Slow down and try the “blended” approach first. Blended would mean trying out a mix of your existing infrastructure, public cloud and private cloud.
You then transition piece by piece to using public cloud services as demands grow. Allow others to be the test dummies for new cloud services. You learn from the after-effects of the explosion, not learn from experience.
4. SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS
Both are technical jargons with definitions that do not seem to speak the regular human language. Too much “aas” in one sentence or phrase. These three are in fact cloud services models (see more in cloud computing ebook).
Why do you think, as a business, you need to get to know these three? These are the main courses you will see in the menu of your vendor. You pick one or you pick all. It’s all up to you.
PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) involves network, servers, storage, scalability and maintenance. With PaaS, you pay for services for specific period of time. IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) on the other hand, is responsible for all infrastructure, housing, cooling and maintenance altogether. IaaS vendors are paid on a per-use basis only.
Before you hit the snooze button, let me introduce you to the one that concerns the end-users. SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), which I oftentimes call Something-as-a-Service when my memory is failing me (which is always), will interest you more. In this model, applications are hosted by the vendor and are made available for customers to use with the aid of internet. This follows a pay-as-you go basis.
Gmail, Google Drive and Maps are the best examples of SaaS. Amazon web services is for IaaS and Salesforce.com is for PaaS.
5. Get your lawyers involved
You have to gain legal exposure as embracing cloud may entail risks. Several cloud service providers decouple the “access” and “storage” facilities. This only means that you do not know where your data is actually residing. No one cares about this in reality.
The big challenge here is that countries have different regulations on data privacy and access. Demand from your vendor the information on the exact location where your data is being stored. Give your lawyers something to work on and let them study the rules and regulations of the country where your data is “hidden”.
Another example is when a customer comes up and files charges against one of your employees for harassment over the phone or email. Make sure that your legal team knows how to gather evidence (copies of email, recordings of conversations etc.) from your vendor to prove validity of the claim.
The CFO’s happiness may be inversely proportional to what the CIO (chief information officer) is feeling. Any resistance from your CIO may be an implication that he is more of the IT manager guy and not the value-oriented leader you need for your business.
Your CFO and CIO should work together to leverage benefits of cloud migration. The former has to lock in the budget needed to complete the transfer, and all the legwork is left for CIO to fulfill.
What’s Your Take?
Are you seeing the good in cloud migration? Are you cynical about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts out loud.
The floor is yours. Drop a comment or two!