Clouds Sep 3, 2020

Three pitfalls on the way to the cloud—and how to avoid them.

By now, most if not all decision makers see the fundamental benefits of the cloud. It saves money for one thing. It adds flexibility for another. It’s music to the ears of executives. Sooner or later, evolving business needs make it necessary to invest and rethink on-premise infrastructures anyway. Plus, employee expectations are changing all the time, and many will not shy away from sourcing unapproved services if the company fails to provide the tools they need through official channels. A modern organisation must be flexible and able to exploit new releases fast. Consequently, most IT managers thinking about the cloud have long since moved on from the if to the how.

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Alexander Freudenberg
Business Manager Datacenter

Pitfall 1: No strategy.

The cloud is a honeypot that easily tricks managers into confusing the goal with a real strategy. For many applications, the cloud is an excellent way to go. A cloud strategy, however, should not merely aim to “outsource” or “buy SaaS”. What’s really important is to translate hazy expectations into clear-as-day objectives. What exactly do you want the cloud to do for your business and your workflows? Do applications fit in with your compliance policies? Will it really improve the employee experience and make applications better?

A cloud can take on all shapes and sizes. Companies can choose to implement a private cloud, a public cloud, or go hybrid for the best of both. Finding the model that’s right for your business and your needs is key. Migrating on-premise resources into the cloud also takes careful planning and evaluation. Do you know exactly which applications and data you want to move?

It’s critical to look at each individual business case and what stakeholders expect to find in your cloud strategy. What pain points do they want to eliminate? What specific objectives do they pursue, and which of their workloads are actually suitable for a cloud scenario? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can start thinking about the model and architecture of your future cloud solution. But be careful not to make a common mistake:

Pitfall 2: Lift and shift.

Migrating an exact copy of your workloads and platforms including all related data and applications into the cloud is rarely a good idea, as it defeats the very purpose of the cloud. You’d effectively end up with a virtual copy of your dusty data centre, a bunch of workloads that are misaligned with the new environment, and none of the actual benefits your new platform has to offer. In short: Everything stays the same. A lift-and-shift approach will not enhance your apps, it will not get you closer to your cost objectives, and it doesn’t improve flexibility. In fact, having a virtual clone of your on-premise data centre in the cloud is a rather inefficient and inflexible affair.

With the cloud in mind, IT managers will have to view workloads from a whole new perspective. Plus, every workload is not equally suitable for lifting into the cloud. In the majority of cases, it is sensible to take a cloud-first approach to new projects and tools, rather than tackle existing applications and data. With a new project, you can plan things from scratch to blend with a cloud infrastructure, or indeed implement a turnkey cloud solution, which is much easier than the other way around.

Pitfall 3: Make it just about the money.

Companies like to cite a reduction in long-term costs as a key rationale behind their cloud agenda. And rightfully so, because running IT resources in the cloud can indeed save you real money. With the weight of hardware lifted off the books, accountants will also point with glee at an increase in liquid funds. However, costs should not be the sole, or even just the most important, reason to drive your cloud strategy. Saving money is not something that just happens when you go cloud, and if your cloud strategy falls short, there might be a rude awakening. The hot migration of existing systems to a PaaS and running them unchanged on virtualised hardware will eat up a lot of time and money, both during the move and later during operation.

Rebuilding applications from scratch as a cloud-native solution isn’t exactly light on your wallet either. A cloud migration really is a herculean task that takes thorough planning, professional implementation, and a realistic budget. And then there are costs for custom developments, service packs and more that may all add up along the road. All things considered, savings should not top the list of your cloud objectives. The real benefits lie primarily in an increased flexibility through exceptional scalability, pay-per-use billing, as well as ongoing platform development and optimisation.

So how can you be sure to get it right?

The best way to unlock cloud-related benefits fast is a cloud-first approach to new projects, such as a cloud-native communications platform—a self-contained project that is easy to plan and predict. Bechtle can help you make your cloud what you want it to be. From analysing your goals, to planning your project and finding the best platform, to implementing your solution and beyond, we make sure you have all your bases covered.