Although a pure cloud play may work well for the small to medium business – Enterprise Customers will not fair as well. During our investigation and ongoing discussions around Cloud computing since – we discovered that many Enterprise customers were not ready for a pure Cloud Based Solution. Why? The process, environment, and technology needs to mature in order to pure cloud play to be viable.
Most Enterprise customers are not a green field but a brown one. They have invested considerable time, resources, and effort in their current systems and processes. Revamping all at once typically is not a viable solution not just from a technology perspective but also a business.
Key processes and procedures that have been developed for hosted, on premise solutions (essential for Private Cloud) exponentially become more critical in a hybrid model. More often then not the assumption is that by outsourcing you are also mitigating risks, costs and responsibility for these critical factors. However, what the reality of the recent Netflix & Amazon outage have shown us is that even the largest customers of Cloud Providers can be impacted from an outage. That outsourcing your entire environment to a single provider may be a costly mistake.
In Visible Ops Private Cloud (ITPI, 2011)– we stopped at Private Cloud because many customers were not at an internal maturity level to successfully adopt and deploy a hybrid cloud model. Furthermore many of the tools that are needed to support best practices needed for a hybrid approach are still either not available or in early phases. For example, in the case with Netflix – how would they easily failover to another cloud provider or internal private cloud to insure their customers were not down? That would require tools that enable true cloud bursting not only from Virtual Machine level but also the licenses and fabric that support the migration from one cloud provider to another.
In today’s world of bring your own license at your own risk – the Enterprise assumes a lot of risk without a lot of assurance. As an Enterprise – how do you mitigate risk while leveraging the value of cloud?
- Invest in a Hybrid Model Upfront– although you may have either your primary or burst capacity come from a cloud provider – it is critical that you have a private cloud with disaster recovery planned in case the cloud provider has an outage. Similar to needing high availability and disaster recovery for your internal systems – failover will be critical for hybrid implementations. Although on the surface ROI & TCO for pure 3rd party cloud play may seem more cost efficient – the first priority 0 outage such as Netflix and Amazon will force hybrid conversation. Better to plan for it from the beginning then wait until there is an issue. This will provide true ROI and determine if Private, Public or Hybrid are the best approach.
- Negotiate Service Level & Precedence – just like application dependencies and precedence needs to be set for your private cloud – it should also be in place for 3rd party providers. Remember in life you do not get what you deserve but what you negotiate so it is critical that you negotiate the right level of precedence based on the criticality of the application the provider is supporting. You have a responsibility to insure that the service levels agreed to by your company with both internal/external customers can be met by the cloud provider, you understand the critical path analysis and contingency plans.
- Look for Low Hanging Fruit – the higher the dependency of the business on the service or application – the higher the risk. Moving to the cloud requires changes not only in technology but people and processes. To assess where your company is on the maturity scale it is imperative that you start with a less critical application that can be scaled out to the masses. This will enable you to determine company’s ability across people, process and technology for the consumption of cloud based solution and assess impact to user base.
- Crawl, Walk, and then Run Approach - Before taking on a large program rollout – understand what areas need to evolve. A good example would be to take on a single communication channel such as email with MS Exchange for a subset of users and expand out before a complete set of communication channels such as unified communications across voice, chat, and email.
- Make sure your Application Providers are on Board – many application providers have restrictions on running Enterprise Applications in a 3rd party cloud but may not have them if you are using a hosted model (such as a virtual private cloud that is an extension of your own private cloud). Before you bring your own licenses at your own risk – make sure you can do so legally without incurring additional costs or compliance risks.
The larger the entity and dependency they have on a specific application the larger the risk and costs could be of moving from a hosted to a 3rd party Cloud provider. Interestingly enough some customers we interviewed leveraged the ROI to justify why they should do a private cloud implementation. The key is to understand what the true total costs of ownership is, where the break even points are, and whether a hybrid solution is required based on criticality of the application