The media is full of information about public and hybrid clouds, with the large companies putting a lot of marketing and emphasis on adopting the public cloud and all of its various offerings. There’s nothing wrong with this approach and it’s a strategy that favours the cloud companies that have popped up and the cloud services available from some of the established IT players.
Public clouds have their advantages; for instance, outsourcing the physical infrastructure and management of it removes a very big headache, and you can focus on using services on an elastic platform that can scale up or down as your business demands, usually with fixed units of cost to make accounting easy. Consumption of public cloud services is increasing and I can see this trend continuing as the technology matures and services and processes improve, but there is still some hesitation with adoption despite this.
We work with a lot of organisations in the SMB space and they are often not so quick to transition some or all of their services into the cloud, and for good reason. For some, it is a case of patiently waiting to see who else is doing it and how they get on, but for others it is often down to lack of resources to investigate the move fully. Taking this cautious approach makes sense…there’s a lot to think about and for smaller businesses getting this wrong could mean the difference between significant financial loss or bankruptcy.
My intention here is not to scare you into not transitioning to the cloud; I think the move to a hybrid cloud model is inevitable, but more about saying its OK to hesitate, take your time, delay and plan carefully. Only you know what is right for your business, you know what will work and what might not, you know how much planning and testing you can do, and you know the level of risks involved. Don’t let the hype force you into making a difficult decision.
Sometimes there are other factors that may force you into making a quick decision. The support on your existing equipment expiring is a prime example. Do you extend the support, or buy something new to replace it? Or is this the time to get the services into the cloud before the support runs out?
Replacing the old kit with new isn’t necessarily a bad idea. It will buy you 3, 4 or maybe 5 years to plan your migrations to the cloud more carefully as well as giving cloud services time to mature further and increase consumer confidence. And that is exactly what a lot of our customers are doing. Converged Infrastructure solutions combine all elements of the technology stack into a complete datacentre in a very small footprint, providing a very cost effective private cloud solution. The Nimble Smartstack for example, is a complete ratified reference architecture based on Nimble Storage, Cisco UCS and switches, with a virtualisation layer based on VMware or Microsoft HyperV. It is a cost effective, yet scalable solution, with easy management and low data centre footprint. With a private cloud, customers retain control of things like security, configuration, guaranteed performance and service and support. Much of their existing policies and processes remain in place (or optimised) and there is little change to the way they are doing things at the moment, when compared to a sudden transition to the cloud.
Once the solution is in place, the customer now has time to carefully plan and consider their options to migrate some of their services to the cloud, without any urgency. They can compare the public cloud offerings in more detail, review services and SLAs, establish new processes and procedures, investigate any additional infrastructure requirements (networking changes/bandwidth increases), review security and compliance, and so on. We have already done this for many of our customers, by providing them with a private cloud solution to continue running their services as they are doing today, it buys time, so we can help them understand the applications and services in more detail, and help them transition some of their services to the public cloud.
So in summary, don’t be afraid to stick with what you know, and delay any major decisions involved with moving your IT services outside of your immediate control, without careful planning of what and how these services will be provided from the cloud. There’s no rush.
About the Author: Amirul Islam in his role as Technical Director at NG-IT brings over 12 years of experience in designing and deploying infrastructure platforms. He has been involved in many projects transforming and optimising IT infrastructures for organisations, including transition of services to the public cloud.