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The path to the cloud(s)

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Digitalisation isn’t always a linear road that leads from point A to B. Your organisation’s path to the cloud – or clouds – is likely to have twists and turns, sometimes doubling back on itself.

Like most roads you’ll travel on, there are signs you should pay attention to along the way. In this article, you’ll see some signs you’re already likely familiar with — but do you know how they apply on the path to the cloud? Read on to find out.

Traffic goes both ways

Sign indicating that the path to the cloud goes both directions

Your organisation may currently have its data in an on-premises environment, public cloud(s) or a combination of them all in a hybrid cloud environment. Or maybe you have plans to move your data from one of these models to another in the future. In any case, it’s important to remember that your business is not locked into one of these models forever.

So if you decide to make the leap into an exclusively public cloud infrastructure, you are by no means barring your business from transitioning back to an exclusively on-premises solution if that is what ends up working for you.

For this to be possible however, there’s one especially important element you should pay attention to on your path to the cloud, and that’s an exit strategy.

Dead end/no turnaround

Sign indicating a dead-end road on the path to the cloud

Regulatory changes are happening all the time. Or maybe your business just undergoes a change in direction. Either way, it’s a good idea to have an exit plan in place in case you ever want to switch deployment models (as described above).

In fact, exit plans away from the public cloud are becoming mandated in certain industries, such as financial services. The European Banking Authority has even released a set of guidelines for developing a cloud exit strategy.

So what does an exit plan actually entail? Any IT infrastructure will contain dependencies. This means that if you move one application or workload before another, it could cause the remaining workloads or applications within a business’ IT stack which depend on it to fail, as they no longer have that resource they depend on to function. Complete data visibility around the entire infrastructure can be complex. For this reason, having a third party do dependency mapping of your complete IT estate is a good start.

Limited visibility

Sign warning of a blind summit on the path to the cloud

There are a few times you might see this sign while out on the road. Perhaps there’s a blind turn ahead, or maybe even a body of water that causes fog. On your path to the cloud, it’s associated with cost.

It’s difficult to predict exact prices when it comes to public or hybrid cloud. Still, cost calculators can provide you with a good idea of what you can expect to spend. However, there are a few situations these calculators often don’t take into account:

  • Cloud repatriation: If you need to move data out of a public cloud (either to transition it out of the cloud entirely or to put it into a different public cloud than the current solution), this will cost money.
  • Data replication: Replicating your data from one side of the cloud to the other side of the cloud for availability will also result in additional costs.
  • Scaling: Scalability is probably one of the biggest benefits of public or hybrid cloud setups. But it’s often something businesses fail to account for in the beginning.

In low-visibility situations on the road, you’ll rely on resources outside of yourself to see the most you can. You’ll probably use your full beams or fog lights and check your mirrors more often. It’s very similar with your cloud setup — don’t feel like you have to handle everything on your own. Having an expert examine your environment and make recommendations on how to use it most efficiently and what to keep an eye out for can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Go slowly

Sign cautioning to reduce speed now while on the path to the cloud.

If you realise you’re late to an important meeting, you might feel tempted to step on the accelerator a little. The path to the cloud is often similar. Many organisations sign up for the latest and greatest SaaS solution because it promises to help them meet goals fast. But a few months on, it might not have the desired effect and the business remains locked into a three-year contract. Not to mention that even if it does have the desired effect, it might not fit the organisation’s strategic direction for the entire length of the contract.

This is why it’s crucial to perform due diligence before putting data into any new cloud. How is it protected? How will you get it back out if necessary?

You don’t want to be heading nowhere fast. Take the time at the beginning to answer these questions. Make sure whatever solutions you implement support your path to the cloud and move you forward. In the worst case, they can lock you in and stifle innovation by creating application or data silos.

Do not overtake

Sign warning not to overtake while on the path to the cloud

When you’re in the fast lane, it’s logical that you’ll want to overtake those slower cars ahead of you. But when you’re so focused on passing the next driver, you might miss some important landmarks you’ve been told to look out for on the way to your destination. Even worse — you might completely miss the exit ramp and continue driving down the wrong path for much longer than you intended.

It’s the same with the path to the cloud for many organisations. There are some steps you simply can’t afford to skip when moving to, away from or between clouds. These include:

  • Ensuring the security and backup of your data
  • Ensuring you have an exit plan in place (see “no turnaround” above)
  • Doing your homework to make sure that any implemented solutions fit into your company’s strategy (see “go slowly” above)

Over time, your path to the cloud may include migrating to one or more public clouds, a hybrid cloud setup or even deciding to return to a completely on-premises environment. To make sure your travels along the way are as smooth as possible (and cover all the points raised here), contact us.

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