5 Steps on journey to cloud
To be able to appreciate what cloud computing is all about, it is very important to understand what it stands for. Cloud computing is essentially used to describe a process where a number of off-site servers are pooled together on the internet to share resources rather than having servers and processors locally doing your IT work. What characterizes cloud computing is that it is often available for a price only on demand – when you need it and how much you need and is outsourced and managed by a service provider.
For many cloud has been a difficult concept to understand, but there is no doubt that it is disruptive and positive for an enterprise. It provides speed and agility to an enterprise’s IT needs. Cloud has seen popularity because of its many advantages:
Fast – Cloud is a lot faster than any traditional software and hardware. It does not suffer from any of the limitations of physical hardware and software, which means the output is much faster. For example 3D and graphic rendering for many products are now done on the cloud. This has vastly improved the speed of generating output and has meant work that generally took days to complete is now done within hours. Cloud enables a firm to be nimble and ensure it has faster processing speeds at reasonable costs.
SaaS model – Cloud has opened doors to Software as a Service Industry (SaaS). This means an enterprise does not have to pick up the entire suite of software, he can pick and choose the parts that suit them the best and only pay for that. Cloud has meant different subscription models can be offered to an enterprise, which has made IT software adoption much more economical. Good quality IT software is now accessible to everyone and anyone.
Demands on IT – As an enterprise grows in size, its demands on IT increases. As the world moves rapidly in adopting technology, IT is expected to look at every aspect of business. From office intranet, to planning, marketing, sales, customer experience and big data analytics amongst others, the demands for IT is ever increasing. This has meant there is tremendous pressure on enterprises to meet all the IT needs and keep up with emerging requirements.
Skilled manpower – As demands increase and IT within an organization grows, an enterprise needs the manpower to address various needs. However, good and skilled manpower in the field of hardware and software is hard to come by. IT staff also needs to stay updated on new technologies and this may prove to be a problem. Some try to get over the paucity by outsourcing their IT requirements, but this is not cheap. Cloud does away with all such needs as physical IT infrastructure for an enterprise is limited and an enterprise needs very little of no manpower to take care of it.
Expenditure – One of the biggest advantages of cloud is that it does away with capital expenditure needed to set up an enterprise IT framework. Beyond a good internet connection, an enterprise does not need to incur any cost in buying costly hardware like servers and processors. This also means significant space is freed up that can be used for other purposes. Technology evolves at a rapid pace and even before an enterprise realizes, most of its IT can be outdated. Being on the cloud ensures an enterprise will save on the cost of upgrading the IT infrastructure.
While there are several advantages, before one jumps into implementing cloud in an enterprise, the following steps should be ideally followed.
Step One – Evaluate – While cloud suits both big and small organization, an enterprise must carefully evaluate its needs. For a big enterprise the cloud adoption needs will be different from that of a small organization. In larger companies IT needs become too big and cumbersome to handle, while in the case of a smaller enterprise it may be all about saving cost and getting over the need to employ a dedicated IT staff. An enterprise needs to map out the current IT infrastructure, what its future needs would be and how it would like different parts of the company to function. Aspects like cost involved and the potential benefits flowing out of cloud adoption should also be taken into account.
Step Two – Find the right Partner – Once an enterprises assesses and evaluates its cloud needs, it is time to find the right partner or a vendor to carry out the work. There are several players in the market offering various cloud products for various needs. Every partner would have its own plus and minuses and an enterprise would need to carefully study what suits them best and is in sync with their requirements. While large established names in the cloud business can be the first choice, it may often not be the cheapest. In such a case smaller, more innovative firms that roll out good cloud products should also be considered. However, it is very important to note that the partner has a track record and the wherewithal to support all your enterprise needs.
Step Three – Get your house in order – Once you have chosen the right vendor to carry out the process, the enterprise has to ensure its house is in order. Implementing cloud across the enterprise and across different departments will result in a few disruptions and it is important to get everyone on board. Employees and other stakeholders that will use the system will need to be educated on how to operate it and what its many benefits are. An enterprise has to also determine the departments and functions that would be on the cloud and controls that would be put in place. An enterprise would need to list every aspect that will be touched by cloud, the systems and processes that would be rendered obsolete and how coordination within the organization would take place in the new setup.
Step Four – Test it – Before a full fledged adoption is undertaken an enterprise should carry out a pilot or a test run. This will ensure that when the entire enterprise migrates to cloud, everything is working to desired level. A pilot would also help the enterprise determine if the outcome is as desired and if any corrective actions need to be taken. A pilot run will also help the organization to determine if the partner implementing the cloud system can pull it off when the entire enterprise migrates to the new system and if all needs can be met.
Step Five – Close eye- Once implanted across the enterprise, one needs to keep a close eye on the system for some time. Despite the best technology, there may be some bugs that creep into the system and this should be promptly identified. Valuable services should be identified and its benefits should be promoted across the enterprise. Also, the enterprise should keep an eye on the services being provided on the cloud and if there is a need to increase or decrease availability some of the services and product.
If implemented properly cloud in an enterprise can effectively remove organizational, financial and procedural barriers and promote a sense of collaboration and innovation. By adopting cloud, forward looking enterprises can get their IT work done in a cheaper, faster and more agile manner.