You’ve heard about the cloud. You’ve talked about moving to the cloud. You’ve probably already done some moving to the cloud. Is there more to discuss? Yes. Definitely, yes. The cloud is a huge, varied and ever-changing environment for corporate IT. Whatever you’re doing in the cloud, it’s almost certainly partial in nature. That’s normal. No one is doing everything in the cloud. It makes sense, then, to take a moment and think about what you need to know to move your unique business to the cloud in a way that will suit your unique requirements.
What is the Cloud?
Putting aside the tediously enormous amount of hype about the cloud, it’s worth focusing on two essential definitions of cloud computing. First, the cloud is an economic model for IT. Traditional “on-premises” IT involves buying equipment and software (CapEx) and then hiring people to run it all for you in a data center you own and operate (CapEx and OpEx). In contrast, with the cloud, another entity—the Cloud Service Provider (CSP)—makes the capital investment in the equipment, software and data center facility. The CSP also hires all the people it needs to run the resulting clod infrastructure. You rent this infrastructure as needed (OpEx only).
Second, the cloud is a software architecture. It’s based on virtualization, wherein the CSP can run many separate Virtual Machines (VMs) for different customers on the same piece of equipment. Architecturally, the cloud abstracts the hardware and software away from the user. For example, if you use Acumatica cloud-based ERP software, it makes no difference (and indeed you probably have no idea) where it’s actually hosted, what kind of machine it’s running on and so forth. Acumatica might as well be “in the clouds,” so to speak.
Types of Cloud Services
Briefly, cloud services run the gamut from fully-functioning Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications that run in your browser. Acumatica cloud ERP is an example. You can also build or run your own software in the cloud by renting Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or using a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). There are also specialized offerings like Disaster-Recovery-as-Service (DRaaS), Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) and so forth.
You can run software entirely in the cloud or in a hybrid cloud/on-premises model. There are public clouds, like Amazon (AWS) and private clouds you can run in your own data center. In this latter mode, you get the flexibility of the cloud architecture, but with the security of running it all on your own equipment.
Moving to the Cloud
Having worked with many clients on cloud migration, we can recommend some proven practices for getting the best results in the cloud. These include:
- Taking it slowly—Incremental moves to the cloud are almost always a good idea, especially at the beginning of your cloud journey.
- Understanding the cloud service you need for a given workload—There is no single right cloud solution. Your business continuity program may need DRaaS, for example. Marketing might need SaaS CRM. Your engineering team might want to create its own custom cloud environment using IaaS.
- Knowing your options for preset cloud configurations—There are now a wide range of preset services available for specific business use cases. For example, you can now get highly sophisticated Internet of Things (IoT) platforms in the cloud for surprising low cost. Popular platforms like Oracle databases and SAP ERP are available on a turn-key basis in the cloud as well.
- Having a plan—Moving to the cloud takes planning and preparation. Many factors come into play. People, for instance, need to understand what they’re doing and why. The schedule needs to be clear. There are often preparatory steps, like integrated databases prior to moving them to the cloud, that have to be addressed in the plan.
- Assigning responsibility—It’s tempting to put stuff in the cloud and forget about it. This may be a slight exaggeration, but it’s a real phenomenon. Managing your cloud-based system needs to be in someone’s job description.
- Securing cloud assets—Cloud security is essential, and it doesn’t have to be a big problem. Securing data and applications in the cloud is different from securing them on-premises. But, there are proven toolsets and procedures to take care of managing cybersecurity risk in the cloud.
We can help you move to the cloud. If you want to learn more about making the right moves toward the cloud, let’s talk.