Which cloud model is right for your business?
Public cloud is where services and infrastructure are provided off-site usually over the internet; it offers a great range of technology choices and provides a great level of efficiency.
Private cloud offers some of the greatest level of control as all the services and infrastructure are maintained privately. However, it still requires the company to purchase and maintain the software and infrastructure, which reduces the flexibility and can impact cost savings.
Hybrid cloud models allow organisations to benefit from the automation of public clouds whilst reaping the control and privacy benefits of the private cloud. They also enable organisations to run their custom or legacy applications in their existing data centre with the option of leveraging a number of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications in the public cloud.
If you’re a small business just starting out, or an organisation with standard service offerings that has relatively repetitive or straightforward workloads used by lots of people (i.e. email, intranet applications, etc.), then opting for a third-party-managed public cloud where you no longer need to carry the infrastructure burden could be a smart business decision for you.
Mature organisations often have a mix of custom in-house applications and standard applications. A hybrid cloud model means you don’t need to forfeit past investments while helping you to take advantage of cloud-driven applications.
Building your business case
STEP 1: Audit what you have first
Start with an internal audit of all your applications and associated data; then cherry-pick what should be moved and in what order. Remember: Less mission critical applications make for ideal first-run candidates, however will also only deliver incremental benefit. Get the balance right or moving too slow on delivering benefits will not be favourable to your stakeholders.
STEP 2: Clearly define what is wrong with the existing set-up and the cost of what's not working
Highlight how your organisation’s existing set-up is ill-prepared to survive a major outage if something goes wrong; strengthen your case further by quantifying the cost to the business of the resulting downtime and loss in data. How much would your business lose for every hour of downtime? What about the regulation and compliance implications? Include all variables applicable to your business.
STEP 3: Build a migration plan
Before you get into migration or cost savings and the automation benefits a cloud model will bring to your organisation, you need to convince your boss that the project won’t disrupt the business. Having a migration plan within the business case will help quell such concerns.
If you have chosen a hybrid cloud model, this is where you can outline what applications and data will be moved to the public cloud and what will stay on the private network.
STEP 4: Demonstrate how cloud could be the right path to fix the risk — from both strategic and cost perspectives
List the key business benefits of adopting a cloud strategy, which might include:
- Operational efficiencies - You can provision a cloud service or feature quickly
- Scalable and flexible ‑ Grows with your business as your IT demands evolve
- Resiliency ‑ Cloud providers have mirrored back-up solutions that can be used in a disaster scenario, mitigating downtime
- Substantially reduced overheads ‑ The cloud offers all these gains without the financial commitments or investment required for infrastructure purchase and maintenance. As such, outline cost advantages of moving to the cloud by comparing how much your organisation is paying now for their existing set-up while also taking into account the risk costs calculated in the next step
STEP 5: Be upfront about any potential risks
Outline any potential risks of a cloud strategy. This will be different for every organisation, but a risk point likely to be consistent across the board is the need for due diligence in choosing a particular provider. Reputation, history and sustainability should all be factors to consider. The dynamic nature of the cloud means that it’s important to know where exactly your data is going to reside. Business continuity plans must also be well documented and tested. When implementing new technologies it’s important that current processes are reviewed and updated accordingly.
STEP 6: Contingency plans for when things go wrong
Although rare, it’s worth remembering that things can go wrong and you can experience outages, so you need to design your Business Continuity architecture appropriately. Your business case should have a contingency plan should these services not meet the business criteria. Using two cloud platforms is just like storing data in two physical locations. A Business Continuity strategy, such as adding copies of your application in multiple regions and data centres, will ensure you’re covered.
A number of cloud service providers offer Business Continuity Solutions, as you still need to protect yourself against the risk of losing data even in the Cloud. It’s important you have back-up processes in place to protect you against unforeseen outages, human error, and to avoid unnecessary downtime.
STEP 7: Stakeholder management
You can have the best documentation but if you don’t have a strategy for communicating that master plan to your boss or board then your efforts could very well be in vein. Start off by determining what success metrics they really care about and then work towards putting together those forecasts.
The good news is that if you followed steps one through five then you should already have the essential pieces of data. Now it’s about mapping that data to the success metrics you’ve obtained from the higher ups to get this project over the line. This includes outlining how those metrics will be communicated on an ongoing basis post-implementation as well.