Best Practices for Moving to the Cloud

Posted on Monday, October 25, 2010

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Recently there has been a lot of interest in cloud. There have been some major developments which have ignited the interest of many enterprises. It would not be late before enterprises start looking around and find that their competitors have already taken the first step towards cloud. Before you get to that situation and start panicking, here are a list of best practices which would make your move easy and successful.

  1. Determine the need – There are multiple, multiple benefits of moving to the cloud. However, “I would like to move because he moved” is not a valid reason. Crucial reasons could be the need for elastic infrastructure, faster provisioning, cost saving, focus on the core business than IT, etc. Once you are convinced about the need to move to the cloud, prepare a worksheet to evaluate what benefits could you actually achieve after the move. If the results are positive, you are a case study for making a planned move.
  2. Understand the cloud ecosystem – There are multiple cloud providers offering competing specifications. Understand the pros and cons of each cloud vendor for your business. Some providers would have extensive APIs for development, some would have a better storage infrastructure, then there are networking options, pricing structures and service-level agreements (SLAs). Decide your need on the basis of your core business. If your business demands that you have to store a lot of data and that data is not referenced very often then you might choose a provider with better availability of data space for the same dollar.
    You would also want to make sure your management and monitoring tools can access the cloud-based applications and that cloud resources, in turn, can access data center services that remain behind the firewall. This would ensure that your costs of moving to the cloud are low and that they do not eclipse the advantages.
  3. Chose your migration partner – This is a critical piece and one of the very important practice. With the evolution of cloud, everybody is offering their piece of advise. When you chose a migration partner be sure to understand their prior experience in the cloud, their thoughts on their blogs, their presence in discussion forums and conferences. Do a reference check with their existing clients. Understand the companies that they partner with and the solutions that they offer. You might have heard that the best investment advisors are those who also have their money invested the right way. Likewise, the best cloud partners are those who themselves make heavy use of the cloud. If there is a cloud provider who does not have a server less office, I would be worried.
  4. Pick a pilot project wisely – Just like any other pilot project, the first application that you intend to move to the cloud should not be overly simple, which gives skeptics a chance to say that it was too easy, neither it should be very complex such that instead of understanding the significance of moving it to the cloud, you are worried about making it work.
    The application should not have millisecond response time expectation. It the response time is that critical then perhaps this application is not a good candidate.
  5. Involve the stakeholders – One of the missing pieces in cloud adoption is that the relevant stakeholders are not involved and they turn out to be the biggest barriers at a later stage. It is always prudent to involve the CIOs CFOs to show them the advantages and the cost saving. It is important for the network and security experts to validate the cloud and voice their concerns opinions in the beginning rather than later.
  6. Create a working sandbox – When you decide to move the application to the cloud, be sure to have a demo sandbox exposed to all the people who were using the earlier application. This allows the users to become comfortable with using the application on the cloud and point out any potential glitches. This also helps them feel that their feedback is being solicited and is important. If the users feel that the application is as good as or better than what they have been using, you have a buy in.
  7. Have a plan B – Stuff happens. Sometimes even with the best of intentions, we do not achieve what we set out to. It is always important to have a well laid out plan B. This might include a decision of not to go to the cloud at least for now. Make sure that all your data is available and can be ported back to the existing systems.
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Once you take your first steps towards the cloud with above mentioned best practices, there is little chance of surprise on the way. If you are ready to take the first step, contact us.

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Posted in: Cloud