Your business is probably already reaping the benefits of Cloud for storing data, running existing applications and hosting environments - perhaps you’ve even started to create re-imagined cloud-native applications? If you’ve made any foray into Cloud (according to RIFT’s 2014 Future of Cloud Computing 4th Annual Survey results, around 70% of businesses are intending to by the end of 2016), then you’re probably also encountering various issues and wondering how best to mitigate risks that you may not have foreseen at the outset of your Cloud journey. As Gartner observes on the Trending Topics section of its website: “Cloud computing is a disruptive phenomenon with the potential to make IT organisations more responsive than ever.”
Fast, agile, flexible, scalable, on demand; the Cloud enables rapid innovation without many of the usual IT restrictions. However, its recent widespread adoption has led to some businesses voicing concerns over issues such as cloud sprawl, cybersecurity, confusion over data ownership, inconsistent Cloud strategies and a lack of overall Cloud control. As with any technology, there are always going to be risks. The question is whether they are at an identifiable, acceptable and manageable level for your business, and if they are outweighed by the benefits.
One of the main benefits of Cloud is its cost-effectiveness. PostNL, the Netherlands’ leading mail company, recently partnered with Sogeti to adopt innovative Cloud-based solutions and is now on track to reduce the total cost of IT by more than 30% within 12 months.
However, in some organisations, these savings are almost nullified by IT consumerisation and the onslaught of shadow and stealth IT Cloud Sprawl, as employees sign up to unsanctioned Cloud services that aren’t part of the approved internal IT strategy. When this is coupled with the trend for more secure hybrid Cloud solutions we often see several Cloud environments in one enterprise, leading to very real concerns over cost and sprawl. There are several effective ways to prevent and address these issues:
- Strategy - Devise a Cloud strategy that clearly details the number of systems and servers and allows for scalability in both directions. Then you have a baseline and can devise a “what if” analysis, so that you can always pull it back to the core requirements if you start to see unmanageable sprawl. Bear in mind any foreseeable periods of increased activity such as spikes or offers or product launches that you know are in the marketing and sales pipeline.
- Change Management - Migrating to Cloud is a big business change so you need to have a clear change management strategy in place and an easy to use change platform that enables you to track your Cloud progress, manage permissions, raise visibility and avoid sprawl.
- Tool Selection - When selecting Cloud management tools ensure that they are customisable, easily configurable and not specifically associated with any of your underlying systems.
Training - Training is of paramount importance to ensure that all staff coming into contact with Cloud from daily use to decision making, have a good knowledge of how all the systems work and what the business requirements, strategy and change management processes are.
Another way to manage Cloud sprawl (and also multiple service providers) is to use a Cloud Service Broker (CSB). Papermill, print and digital company Mohawk Fine Papers uses a single CSB to address their on-premise app to app integration, the supply integration for their 300 customers and the tech support and commercial functions associated with working with 3rd party Cloud providers. Similarly Men’s Warehouse uses a hybrid Cloud contact verification service linked to their major business processes, to maintain data integrity and quality. As Gartner is quick to point out in their case study, a CSB is not the answer to everything Cloud. Even with their CSB in place, Men’s Warehouse had instances of slow email identification caused by one of their 3rd party providers having performance issues. The key takeaways here are, when selecting CSBs to manage your cloud, ensure that you know what their own supply chain is like and the quality of their providers so you don’t get a knock on effect from external problems.
Data on the Move
Moving your data from one Cloud to another remains problematic due to varying formats and storage options, plus unique application services that are created to run in a specific Cloud environment. The key to preventing this issue is forward panning to ensure that you know in advance what types of Cloud solution you’ll require and create a data management strategy that is applicable in all environments. This consistency will give you greater freedom to move your data and mitigate the risks. App containerisation enabling a higher degree of automation and moveability and a more streamlined deployment of resources is the key to success. Your choice of data transport technology will also have a major impact, so choose carefully taking into account optimum efficiency for storage and sufficient bandwidth. This is particularly important of you have a hybrid private-public cloud solution, which the majority of businesses are currently using so they can manage their most sensitive data internally.
If you’re one of the 49% of businesses that cites Cloud security as a major concern then have a look here at this post by Sogeti’s Kevin Whitehorn for tips on developing a solid security strategy and viewing your Cloud migration as an opportunity to enhance your security enterprise wide.
Sogeti’s Cloud Solutions
Sogeti – Capgemini’s local professional services arm - views Cloud as a ubiquitous design principle to everything we deliver, underpinning our end-to-end portfolio of client solutions. We understand that one size doesn’t fit all, and we can help you integrate cloud and non-cloud systems, break the barriers between your internal organisation and your external supplier and navigate a growing customer and partner ecosystem. Sogeti can design, build and manage the Cloud that fits your organisation. Our Cloud services include Cloud Advisory Services, Cloud-based Development & Testing - OneShare, and more comprehensive Cloud Transformation Services.