10 Tips for a Successful Cloud Computing Implementation – Part 1

Less equipment, fewer IT team members, continuous upgrades, and improved security.  These are but a few of the many benefits included in the thousands of articles written about cloud computing.   As with all technologies, however, whether it’s the right option for a given company is often a more complicated question. 

In my next two blog posts, I will attempt to clear away all the hype of about cloud computing and try to offer a clear, non-jargon filled set of guidelines for when to consider /not consider cloud computing, who to partner with, determine which “type” of cloud might be right for your organization, etc.

First a definition:  cloud computing is the provision of computing, networking and/or storage capabilities from a service provider to a group of users within an organization.  Any IT team that has purchased a service to back up data to a remote site is practicing a form of cloud computing.   Cloud computing typically refers to one of three architectures:  Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). 

  • Software as a Service – In this architecture, a service provider offers application software available to users from a remote site.  The service provider takes on tasks such as upgrading the software periodically and load balancing among servers to ensure the applications are always available.
  • Platform as a Service – In a PaaS model, the service provider makes available not just application software, but also additional parts of the software “stack,” including the operating system, programming language execution environment, web server and database.
  • Infrastructure as a Service – In this architecture, the service provider includes hardware as well as software on a pay-per-use model.  The service provider offers services such as maintaining and upgrading the hardware as well as software.

The benefits of cloud computing include the ability to offload small or significant portions of purchasing, managing and upgrading a datacenter.   IT teams can also scale up or scale back resources on an as-needed basis. 

But to maximize these benefits, IT teams must think through in detail what exactly they are trying to accomplish and the actual versus cost/benefit of a cloud approach.  With this in mind, below are:

10 tips to consider when analyzing a potential move to a cloud infrastructure.

1. Know your business and its needs – It is important to identify the requirements of employees and identify in detail the business reason and purpose for the move to cloud computing. This is essential to the success of the cloud implementation. Set specific metrics to evaluate the success of the cloud deployment.

2.  Define the software and/or hardware desired to be in the cloud – Not all applications are good candidates for moving to the cloud. Before taking advantage of new applications built and developed for the cloud, it is best to start with a low-risk, back office (non-strategic) application before setting your sights on more ambitious targets.

3. Evaluate cloud service providers carefully – Test multiple cloud providers and ask to be set-up with trials, if this capability is not automatically offered on their websites. Spend the extra time and effort to find the provider whose offerings best fit the needs of your organization both today and into the future, even if that means setting up test labs, spending more money and taking longer time to implement.

4. Determine “true” costs – Cloud providers usually have subscription fees, configuration fees, internet access fees, end-user support usage fees, and training fees. When researching cloud vendors, consider some other costs that may not be so obvious such as incremental user fees, storage fees, termination and cancellation fees.

5. Establish a cloud computing committee to assist with evaluation –  Form a committee that includes representatives from all key functions within your company; e.g., accounting, human resources, sales, et al.  This approach will ensure all “voices” are heard during the service provider selection process and that all critical needs are identified and addressed.

Please stay tuned for my next blog post, where I will provide everyone with five additional and very insightful tips to consider when analyzing a potential move to a cloud infrastructure.

Until then, I look forward to everyone’s feedback and comments!

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