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Are you developing your enterprise cloud strategy? Consider these important points.

Ultimately, the most important piece of an enterprise cloud migration isn’t the finished product — it’s the plan you use to construct it all. Building a businesswide plan that accommodates your current cloud usage and future desires can save budget, effort, and time, both in terms of the processes you’re trying to improve through cloud technology and the act of migration itself.

This information may not come as a surprise if your business has a solid strategy in place; however, there are still organizations that don’t have such a plan. According to the latest Right Scale survey, a lack of resources and expertise have supplanted security as the biggest challenge to cloud migration, and it shows when enterprises jump into the cloud without a cohesive strategy. Understanding your business’ relationship with technology and where you’d like the entity as a whole to be at the migration’s completion is crucial to your overall success in using the cloud.

If you’re still deciding what that plan should look like, here are a few points to consider:

Applications and Workloads to Move First

Though giving absolute advice is difficult with a tool as all-encompassing as the cloud, experts from pretty much every source imaginable emphasize the value in starting small. Diving in with both proverbial feet and moving your business-critical data/workloads/apps to the cloud straightaway can be irresponsible under the right — or wrong, as it were — circumstances.

Chances are, your current experimentation with the cloud already follows this advice. Now that you’re formalizing the rest of your enterprise cloud migration, look for apps and workloads with the following attributes:

  • Services used for development and testing, if applicable.
  • Applications without complex dependencies (read: deep operational ties to other on-premise solutions).
  • Apps that can still be used effectively when latency is a factor.
  • Apps that could benefit from greater scalability.
  • Apps that you plan to stick with for a while, and that don’t have a suitable software-as-a-service (SaaS) alternative that would make migration fraught with unnecessary effort.

Under these guidelines, anything from time-tracking apps to email to CRM solutions could be appropriate for the move. Provided the leap to managed cloud business services wouldn’t break dependencies, big data and analytic applications may be good candidates, too. Finally, nonessential tiered apps may also be parceled out, giving you the flexibility to move bits and pieces throughout different phases of your plan. Add slowly, note the results, and repeat, moving up to bigger, more complex initiatives as you go.

Problematic Apps

Identifying legacy and other critical apps that may be particularly difficult to “cloudify” can help you plan what to do with them before migration (assuming you choose to migrate them at all). This can be especially useful in determining whether a move to a public or private cloud will eventually offset the effort it takes to put the app there.

Potential issues to consider include hardware/OS compatibility and a need for premigration refactoring. Your company may be better off replacing problematic apps with suitable SaaS (Software as a Service) alternatives, particularly if the replacement can be integrated without extensive employee training or disruption of existing processes and workflows.

What Problems Are You Trying to Solve?

This one may seem obvious, but do yourself a favor and figure out why you want to make this move. Whatever you formalize will inform the questions you ask and help you answer them. The answers could range from chasing new revenue streams to cheaper long-term IT expenditure to even larger plans, like desktop virtualization — just make sure you know.

Public or Private? What About Hybrid?

Another question — largely informed by your goals and the types of applications you want to migrate in your enterprise cloud integration plan — is whether your cloud infrastructure should be public, private, or a hybrid of the two. Public services can do great things, but potential regulatory concerns and a lack of direct control over hardware may give you pause. By the same token, sticking exclusively with private cloud is naturally more complex and costly in the long term. And in either event, outright dismissing one or the other instead of leaving the door open to future exploration is nothing short of setting your IT up for failure.

Of course, this isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. You could take the hybrid approach, moving less-critical, less-sensitive workloads to public services, while keeping apps that enable core business competencies under your own roof. Many businesses are going hybrid for that sort of granular control — both over the migration and their larger operations when things are finished.

As an addendum, businesses with eyes on a fully or partially private cloud infrastructure may wish to pay particular attention to the hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) movement. A combination of commodity hardware and virtualization can make the practice far more affordable than other takes on private cloud infrastructure, while added speed (thanks largely to use of SSDs) and smaller footprints make for enhanced agility and flexibility. Moving so close to a software-defined infrastructure may require some new skills, but with HCI becoming the standard, picking them up is more of an inevitability than anything.

Service Level

OK, that’s not exactly a question. It is an important consideration for companies considering public cloud services, however. If you or a team member have experience crafting and negotiating desired service levels during this phase of planning, the experience will be invaluable. If not, heavy research (and perhaps paid consultation) is in order.

Wired’s guide to negotiating service-level agreements (SLAs) might be helpful as you decide what factors to negotiate when vendor-picking time comes. Per-app uptime requirements are one obvious point of concern, as are formalized escalation procedures in case of disagreements or unsatisfactory responses to concerns you have. And those are just the start. Like with your overall plan, understanding your business’s needs and wants with public providers prior to having to express them can be highly useful.

Your company wouldn’t create a new product or service without planning the development process, would it? Something as critical and all-encompassing as enterprise cloud migration requires a plan as well, and considering the finer points of your strategy will serve you well in the long run.

Are you ready to move to the world of cloud business? Let Vonage Business help you with the finer points of integration.

About Evan Wade

Evan Wade is an author and editor from Carmel, Indiana. As a veteran tech writer and lifelong tech enthusiast, he focuses his writing and research on communication, mobility and security. Alongside work with leading cloud technology providers and industry news sources, Evan has extensive sales and end-user marketing experience, giving him a unique view of the individual’s relationship with technology — and how organizations can realize huge benefits from it.

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The hybrid cloud trend is shaping cloud strategy.

Ever wish modern tech such as cloud services received as much attention from the tabloids as celebrities? You know, something to keep you abreast of which technologies were hot and which were falling out of favor. In lieu of a National Tech Inquirer, we’ve compiled a list of three major cloud trends dominating the minds of IT professionals today.

After all, a cloud strategy is one of the most important aspects of modern IT. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at the sheer number of business cloud services supporting critical workflows in just about any modern enterprise environment. If you lost count, you’re not alone. Businesses have quickly come to rely on the inherent manageability and scalability of these virtual resources.

It really comes as no surprise, then, when you realize just how much of an impact the cloud has had on the face of IT. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at which trends have had the most effect and why they’ve created such a buzz.

1. Hybrid Clouds and Big Data

The concept of big data in the cloud is a bit of a paradox. While Stephen Hawking may have foreseen the perfect marriage of these two technologies, the state of early cloud technology was viewed with apprehension. By its very nature, big data analytics require immense storage footprints that were simply impractical in a cloud setting. Remember those meager limits on early cloud services? Yeah, the ones that counted in megabytes. Well, storage has become far more dense — that’s a compliment — and cheaper to boot.

The result is a hybrid cloud infrastructure that makes it practical to leverage the analytics prowess of cloud services on large amounts of data. Speaking of which, the emergence of hybrid cloud technology can be traced back to the need of enterprise organizations to expose their own gigantic data stores to the processing power of cloud platforms. With the addition of storage and CPU clusters, this data can be processed and analyzed with a few clicks of the mouse. It’s for these reasons that hybrid cloud adoption rose 13 percent in 2015 alone, according to Rightscale, and remains one of the hottest trends shaping the face of IT today.

2. Software-as-a-Service

There’s no question that computers are getting more powerful with each passing day. The hardware used in enterprise environments today is light years faster and more reliable than those used even a few years ago. Yet despite the enormous strides chip manufacturers have been making, one trend has us questioning the need for so much raw power.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) has emerged as a revolution in how enterprise organizations manage and deploy software to their users. Born of the need for a much simpler way to install, update, and use software libraries in large companies, SaaS takes the burden off the shoulders of the enterprise and shifts it to the vendor. Everything from communication and collaboration software to custom-built enterprise apps can now be enjoyed a la carte. Put simply, this trend is changing the way enterprise users work.

3. Hyperconvergence

If SaaS — or really any “as-a-Service” technology — was created to simplify and streamline enterprise software, hyperconvergence could claim the same for the hardware side of things. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, you will. While this particular trend is still somewhat of an up-and-comer, the concept is far too lucrative for it to relinquish its position as a top IT trend.

The idea is to take as many aspects of modern IT infrastructure, such as compute, storage, network, etc., add a heaping dose of virtualization, then cram it all into a cheap box of commodity hardware. Popularized by the Facebooks and Googles of the world, hyperconvergence lets enterprise environments use the power of virtual resources — in combination with falling prices in commodity hardware — to drive digital operations from a single platform. The end result is a scalable infrastructure that can be tailored to just about any need.

There you have it, three titanic trends that are shaping the very face of modern IT. As the new year rapidly advances, these trends will undoubtedly continue to influence cloud strategy in an enterprise near you. While the new year may bring fresh trends out of the woodwork, it’s safe to say that hybrid clouds, SaaS, and hyperconvergence will still be making their mark.

Intrigued? If you’d like to learn more about extensive features available for your organization’s cloud strategy, check out Vonage Business!

About Joe Hewitson

With a degree in applied computing technology and over a decade of experience in the IT and software development industries, Joe Hewitson has his finger on the pulse of cloud technology. From developing communication applications for the cloud to deploying VoIP solutions in enterprise environments, he’s seen it all. The one thing Joe loves more than staying on the cutting edge of cloud and VoIP technology? Writing about it.

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