Nowadays the cloud plays a central role in more and more companies, in the management of IT resources, in the support of agile development and provisioning processes, and in the introduction of flexible business models. In addition, the cloud drives digital transformation and enables more efficient IT operations.
As today’s companies need a modern IT environment that can be scaled quickly and across multiple locations and supports numerous digital channels and a variety of different devices, there is no alternative to using the cloud. This is because the cloud is the basis for innovative IT infrastructures, digital transformation and forward-looking business models. Many companies are using the cloud to optimize communication and collaboration. Their employees can work more autonomously and exchange information with teams in other areas more efficiently than ever before. This helps companies to act faster and more intelligently.
Challenges of the Cloud
In addition to the prospect of more efficient and more powerful processes and IT infrastructures, the cloud also poses numerous challenges. There is no guarantee of success when it comes to migration – neither strategically nor financially.
Very often, companies launch their cloud initiatives on the basis of incomplete and hastily drawn up plans. In many cases, company executives and IT experts have not thought through the implementation of the new systems sufficiently. The result is a relatively chaotic IT and business environment that fails to realize the expected benefits of the technology. Fragmented individual solutions can pose an additional problem, as the increasing complexity of the infrastructure slows down the applications – and therefore the business processes.
What you should know about the cloud deployments
Firstly, not all applications are suitable for the cloud. In-house deployment models will continue to exist, at least for the foreseeable future. In some cases, local solutions are even necessary to ensure compliance with guidelines.
Secondly, not all cloud environments are the same. The cloud is a term that encompasses many different products, services and functions. Besides, there is a variety of providers and delivery methods, as well.
Thirdly, it is important to plan the migration carefully and monitor its success – regardless of whether only some of the applications or the entire infrastructure is to be migrated to the cloud.
When migrating, companies need to decide how much they want to spend on cloud resources to achieve the desired performance. They can realize maximum ROI if they succeed, the best possible performance with the right investment volume. This optimum can only be achieved through automation and the efficient use of cloud resources.
Four Steps for Effective Cloud Implementation
Every successful move to the cloud involves four key steps that companies should focus on in order to achieve optimal results:
First of all, it should be determined which in-house applications provided within the company are suitable for a cloud platform. This decision should be made on the basis of usage trends and the expected benefits for business operations. An application that is used worldwide and with seasonal fluctuations to generate sales, is a good candidate. Ideally, the application architecture should be suitable for a cloud platform.
You should also differentiate between business-critical and less important applications and determine their respective resource requirements in terms of computing power, memory, etc. Based on this information, your IT experts can make forecasts on the extent of future cloud resource usage.
For ensuring a smooth running of the migration process, it is also essential that you are aware of the dependencies between different applications and between the different modules of the individual applications. If a company has clear answers to these questions, the effort involved in migration becomes predictable, which in turn enables more accurate planning.
Once you have determined the order in which the applications are to be migrated to the cloud, you can begin to start preparing the process. This step involves dismantling the existing applications and converting them for cloud-based provision. The first step of this process is a thorough review of the application modules, particularly with regard to dependencies and cloud capability. The applications may be transferred to container-based microservices architectures that are optimized for cloud platforms.
In any case, you should ensure that the applications that are going to be migrated use resources efficiently and can be maintained and scaled with little effort. To be able to determine whether migrated applications deliver the desired business performance, your organization needs a detailed overview of the internal and cloud-based environments.
You should ensure that the cloud-based applications and services are always available for all users on all devices. The scope of validity of the SLAs agreed with the service providers usually ends at the edge of the cloud. However, the fact that a server is online says little about the actual performance of the application hosted on the user’s end devices.
In order to monitor compliance with service levels, performance requirements and security guidelines, you need tools that provide you with a detailed overview of all applications, networks, infrastructures and devices – from the perspective of the end user. Of course, the functions for performance monitoring, provision optimization and monitoring of the complete deployment chain – from the end user to the network to the servers and databases – must also be available for the cloud-based part of the infrastructure.
With the help of real-time analytics and powerful administration tools, IT teams from different parts of the organization can collaborate more effectively to ensure uninterrupted application availability, better plan product or system upgrades and manage the impact of migration processes on customer satisfaction and turnover.
Ultimately, migration is about creating added value for the company as well as for its customers and business partners. In order to benefit from the advantages of the cloud in the long term, companies must evaluate and realign their processes. In other cases, optimization can be achieved by implementing a data-driven approach that provides accurate forecasts of customer requirements and growth so that IT teams can anticipate what features need to be developed or deployed.
This can include A/B tests for new features or adoption funnels can be used to support the decision-making process. And, of course, all changes must be made during ongoing operations without affecting the continuous availability of applications, services and data. In addition, your IT environment should include new and improved platforms and forward-looking technologies such as the Internet of Things and powerful mobile features for mobile devices, including voice capture and visual data processing.
If your organization focuses on these four fundamental steps during migration and follows best practices, you can use the cloud as productively and cost-effectively as possible. In this way, you and your team can lay the foundations for the digital future and ensure that your company can adapt to new developments and implement revolutionary business models. Companies that have a firm foundation in the cloud are more dynamic, more flexible, more competitive and are turning today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities.