– Chris Patterson, VP Product Management, NaviSite, says:
As businesses look to leverage cloud technology to drive growth, many times the question IT leaders within the company ask is, “Where do I start? What part of my infrastructure should I move into the cloud first?” IT leaders must pick a place to begin with cloud adoption. The decision becomes easier when teams focus on incremental adoption, starting with small, low-risk applications that can be easily tested and improved through an iterative approach before fully launching. Here are some best practices businesses should consider when getting started with cloud technology.
Identify the true problem and define a solution
The most effective method for getting started with cloud adoption is to identify the greatest pain point in a company’s IT ecosystem. The cloud solution should be targeted and architected to ease that pain point. Additionally, as part of defining the problem when implementing cloud technologies, IT leaders should also define what a solution looks like. Some critical actions to take in this early phase are:
- Take a deep dive: Conduct a thorough audit of the business and its IT systems. Take a complete and objective inventory to understand the full infrastructure at a very granular level.
- Pinpoint pain points: A useful exercise is identifying what the IT ecosystem looks like when the pain point is solved. That vision of the solution will guide the cloud team during implementation until it has achieved its vision of success.
It’s not about outsourcing, it’s about “out-tasking”
When businesses and IT teams are determining where to begin with cloud adoption, it can be helpful to view the process as the migration of bite sized, discrete pieces of an IT system onto the cloud. It is more about “out-tasking” than out sourcing. Out-tasking lets businesses solve pain points simply to begin driving value and seeing return on investment more quickly.
When defining and understanding out-tasking, IT leaders can take a step back and look at cloud computing as a loosely integrated suite of complimentary services, such as Infrastructure as a Service, (IaaS), Software- as-a-Service (SaaS), Backup-as-a-Service (Baas), Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), etc. Building a cloud infrastructure to help a business grow, reduce costs and run more effectively is not a one time, all or nothing proposition. With this in mind, here are some key steps to successful out-tasking:
- Start simply: The most effective and low risk approach is to start with one cloud solution to address one IT challenge. Once that solution is achieved, then an IT leader can take on a second challenge, or a broader area with high potential to drive efficiency. Cloud adoption then takes place incrementally, one task at a time.
- Know your cloud: While cloud technology imparts tremendous advantages to a business’s IT ecosystem, there are some functionalities for which it is not ideally suited. It is important to understand what elements of the infrastructure are better suited to work more efficiently in the cloud, and which are less ideal for virtual platforms.
Unique solutions to solve unique problems
Take, for example, a large retail brand eager to solve its business challenges using cloud technology. The first step was identifying its pain points, which in this case involved a few different areas. First was managing a mobile, millennial and highly innovative and flexible workforce, for which the solution involved implementing a virtual desktop infrastructure. The retailer tweaked and customized this solution to meet its unique needs. From there, the IT team identified a second pain point – the need to store and manage large image files for their design and branding work. Once that challenge was identified, the company expanded its cloud infrastructure to include storage so they could better store and manage their images and branding content.
From there, the retailer needed to ensure its systems had the resiliency in place so the files their teams stored and the virtual desktop their global workforce relied upon was secure and built to run through any disaster. The team was able to implement a disaster recovery plan architected to meet their unique needs using BaaS to ensure its global workforce would have uninterrupted access to their virtual desktops, and that the images stored and shared were secure according to the highest compliance and regulatory standards. This gave the global retailer the assurance it needed to continue to migrate increasingly larger workloads onto the cloud.
This a clear example of how businesses can take an approach more aligned with out-tasking as opposed to a sweeping transition to an outsourced model. It allows for less complexity and challenges and makes the migration process a lot easier on the overall organization. Two key points to keep in mind when setting up a cloud blueprint:
- Don’t shoe horn everything into the cloud: Companies can choose one service to meet one need, apply that technology, evaluate the return, adjust course as needed, and move on to solve the next challenge. This is the benefit of working within the cloud.
- The cloud is best consumed in bit-size pieces: Cloud adoption works best when it is executed incrementally using the out-tasking process. The process becomes more streamlined, effective and less disruptive to the overall organizational infrastructure.
Ultimately, the most important thing is simply that IT leaders take the first step in their company’s cloud journey. Identifying the most significant pain points helps create a vision for moving ahead with solving one business challenge at a time. After determining where to start, teams can apply the out-tasking approach to refine their technologies, minimize risk, and arrive at a solution that truly solves a business challenge, drives growth and delivers value.