Are You Ready to Commit to the Cloud? 5 Things to Consider Before Taking the Plunge

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Entering into a new technology partnership can be daunting. We ask ourselves: Am I ready for this commitment? Will this help my enterprise grow into the organization it dreams to be? Starting something new challenges us to both self-reflect and look into the future to examine our ultimate goals and needs. 

This is especially true if you’re evaluating a cloud solution for the first time. Particularly now, as the amount of unstructured data soars, and where it is stored migrates from the data center to both the edge and the cloud. The options are seemingly endless, but choosing the wrong provider and solutions can lead to a rocky start for a relationship with the cloud. To that end, here are five things IT leaders should consider before committing to a cloud strategy.

Know the direction you’re headed before taking the next step.

The cloud is sometimes perceived to be the ultimate solution for modern data challenges. But it’s easy to see cloud benefits through rose-tinted glasses, leading to some IT leaders jumping into adopting cloud infrastructure that might not be the right fit. Here’s the reality: the cloud is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and not all products are created equal. 

When choosing a cloud solution, it’s imperative to be reflective and examine where you want improved business results – like costs, agility, flexibility, capacity, and disaster recovery. There are benefits to adopting the cloud which will support your business’ needs, but which ones are most important? 

Here are just a few of the reasons you might be considering a move to the cloud:

  • Massive scalability: As more data is consumed, especially unstructured data, the capabilities of on-prem storage diminish and become more expensive to maintain — but cloud-based storage was built to scale. Exponentially growing petabyte-scale data stores is now the norm, and you need a solution that won’t be bogged down by rapid and constant growth. 
  • Supporting a distributed workforce: Moving data operations to a decentralized cloud infrastructure gives your organization the mobility and flexibility to support its remote and distributed employees with on-demand access to the data that isn’t tied to one central location.
  • Stronger performance: Moving your data to the cloud means faster product development and deployment, uptime guarantees and automatic performance upgrades with each new software release.

Understanding your goals will make it easier to also understand your options. Now, before you commit, you can confidently weigh the pros and cons of how each solution will address each specific need. 

Before you commit, get a second (or tenth) opinion.

Data touches every part of a business. Moving to the cloud will not only impact the technical divisions of a company, but legal, finance, and other departments as well. This kind of change will reset how your team operates at every level. While it’s your responsibility as a business leader to ensure the solution you’re choosing meets the needs of all relevant stakeholders and users, this decision should not be made in a silo. Ask yourself and your team: is this the right solution for our cohesive unit? Who will it impact, and are they ready?

A cloud business survey by PWC revealed there is a ‘cloud-value gap’ in the C-suite. Almost half of business leaders (48%) lack confidence in their organization’s ability to measure the return on cloud investments. This reinforces the need to tee your team up for success by ensuring everyone understands the goals behind the initiative. Further, your team members will need training and certifications from your cloud vendor to take on their new responsibilities and workflows so all new resources and capabilities are used to their full potential. 

Define the terms of your cloud partnership.

The technology landscape is unpredictable and always changing. The last thing you want is to have all of your data stuck in one bucket. To avoid vendor lock-in, you have to consider whether your cloud strategy will be best served by a single cloud, or whether having multiple cloud products or multiple workloads will be the best path forward for long-term success. 

A multi-cloud strategy is useful for organizations who rely on high performance and high scale, and can improve flexibility by letting you ‘pick and choose’ the best solutions in each cloud. But scaling up is only half the battle. The cloud is constantly changing, and it’s critical to choose a vendor that can not only scale up, but also down and out as well. Essentially, you need a cloud that can scale anywhere. 

It’s also helpful for resilient disaster recovery and backup. Of course, ‘cloud monogamy’ can also be much simpler to operate – juggling multiple clouds can be a hassle for organizations who only run a few workloads in the cloud. 

Make sure you understand the direction your organization is headed because it might help you avoid getting locked in to a commitment that won’t fulfill your long-term, immediate, and future cloud needs.

Keep an eye out for common red flags.

In life and in business, we’re always on the lookout for “red flags” that might cause trouble. Your cloud strategy deserves the same level of care. Here are a few common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Underestimating costs: A lot of organizations want to move to the cloud to cut costs, but research from Forrester shows that most firms today underestimate the price associated with cloud usage and migration. Pay-as-you-go pricing models are the best bet to avoid cost complexity and unpredictability. 
  • Moving all your apps at once: Not every application should leave the enterprise data center, especially in one grand sweep. Consider the storage requirements for each application and evaluate which ones to migrate.
  • Ignoring security: No company wants to pay for a costly data breach, so it’s critical to define your security objectives before moving to the cloud.

What if I regret my selection?

There are potential risks to starting any new relationship, one of them being that it might not work out. If this is your first introduction to cloud technologies, you might be surprised that the “terms and conditions” of your selected products look different to what you’re used to. It’s important to familiarize yourself with exactly what you’re committing to, and making sure you have an “out” if you need it.

According to Virtana, 72% of enterprises who moved applications to the cloud have moved at least one app back on-premises. Cloud repatriation often takes the shape of moving from the public cloud to the private cloud, or from one public cloud to another – rather than leaving the cloud altogether.

If it comes to this, reflect on the decisions you made in the selection process. What do you wish you had known when you made your selection? Just because relationships end doesn’t always mean they failed. It serves as an important lesson for that particular phase of life, or in this case – the data lifecycle. 

About the Author

Kiran Bhageshpur, CTO, Qumulo. Kiran is a technology executive with 20+ years of experience in various roles ranging from hands on engineering to product / engineering leadership roles in a variety of companies ranging in size from pre-product startups to large public companies.

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