Tuesday, February 27Inside Business Africa

Creating a successful cloud readiness roadmap

South African businesses are feeling the economic pinch, and the picture looks much the same the world over as global growth forecasts slow. One of the ways businesses are winning some financial ground, is by moving to the cloud. In its latest Cloud Business Survey, PwC reports 78% of executives surveyed have adopted cloud in most or all parts of their business. 

Dirk Ras, Solutions Architect at Dariel Software, says it’s true that moving to the cloud can result in cost savings, but not without some homework first. “The two primary gains businesses can expect by moving to the cloud are having more flexibility and saving on the costs of on-premises infrastructure and maintenance.” Yet, by some estimates, around 30% of cloud spend is wasted. Ras explains: “Companies who don’t perform an in-depth cost analysis prior to moving to the cloud can easily spend too much because costs can vary depending on usage. And with that, one of the primary driving factors of their move to the cloud could fall away. It’s vital to not only understand the cost implications of moving to the cloud but also how to use it optimally to save on costs.”

It’s important to do thorough research and ready your environment before moving to the cloud. Ras gives these tips to do so:

  1. Assess your current environment: Have a good understanding of your current infrastructure and workloads. Be sure to also look at constraints that could impact your move, such as the regulatory environment in which your organisation operates. This informs your governance framework.
  2. Determine your objectives: What do you want to achieve by moving to the cloud? This will inform the entire process, such as which workloads and applications need to be migrated, which cloud service models would be best suited, and what deployment models need to be followed.
  3. Evaluate available skills: Assess what skills your workforce has and what training needs to be done.
  4. Perform an in-depth cost analysis: Careful planning and deployment, using optimised architectures instead of what seems to work for others, can mitigate costs. Transferring large amounts of data to the cloud can be extremely costly, so make sure of these costs beforehand and what services are available to you from the provider for the move.
  5. Do your research: Compare several cloud service providers and models before choosing a package. Be sure to also look at providers’ security and data protection policies. If you store personal information, there are certain safeguards that need to be in place to comply with legislation, such as strong encryption, access controls, and regular security patches. Also, read through the service level agreement to see how they mitigate downtime – it’s rare with well-known providers, but it can happen.
  6. Create a migration strategy: Be sure to have a disaster recovery- and business continuity plan in place – not only during, but also after your move. You can implement business continuity as a baked-in solution as part of certain cloud packages, though these services all carry costs that should be factored into your planning.
  7. Test and pilot: Proof of concept is relatively inexpensive and easy when it comes to the cloud. Spinning up some resources in the cloud means clicking a few buttons or writing some code, whereas a procurement process can be a nightmare – never mind having to reverse that process if it doesn’t work. It’s worth the effort to try before you buy, by simulating your environment on a small scale to test performance and scalability. It will also help with your cost analysis.

And, after the move, the work is not done. “Performance monitoring and optimisation is an ongoing task after moving to cloud,” says Ras. “Businesses are not static, so it’s vital to keep assessing your cloud strategy and updating it as the business changes. Continuous rightsizing, first and foremost, is crucial to save on costs. Keep checking for new cloud native services too, which are released at an astounding rate and can be very beneficial to your business. Lastly, security is always important – there are constant new threat vectors that need to be mitigated. By staying on top of these tasks, you can reap all the benefits cloud has to offer – and save on costs in the process.”

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