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A practical approach to the cloud

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Transitioning to a cloud computing infrastructure is a multi-faceted endeavour, bearing significant impact across a company. It’s a journey that represents a foundational change in how IT organisations structure, operate, and deliver services to their internal customers.
According to Gerald Naidoo, CEO of specialist consulting company Logikal Consulting, businesses that take a disciplined approach to cloud computing will realise the full value of the move.

“Initially, it is vital that businesses understand the drivers for the move to a cloud solution. From an application perspective, drivers for cloud computing may include mergers and acquisitions, new offerings, or plans for upgrades or migrations. For IT, drivers may include performance or service-level issues, rising energy costs, growing server and storage footprints, or space limitations due to the expanding IT footprint,” he says.
Naidoo adds that moving a business-critical IT environment to the cloud can be daunting. He suggests starting in a practical way by focusing on prioritising and building use cases for each business requirement, and assembling a virtualisation team to build around pools of technology for all of the use cases.
“With these preparations, you’ll end up with an infrastructure that is much easier to use,” he says.
The first step is to define a business case. This is, by far, the most important step he explains.
“You must decide why you want to move to the cloud. Do not get hung up on technical details or carried away by lofty promises. Know what you want to achieve and then draft a reasonable and measured plan to get there.”
Naidoo says that applications are the driving force behind cloud systems. While a focus on infrastructure may be important for a software development environment, business outcomes are built on applications.
“Application delivery, not infrastructure, has become a new bottleneck. To avoid this, ensure that computing, storage, network and application resources all get the same weight,” he says.
While many flavours of cloud computing are now available, the future presents an even wider variety of ripening opportunities that will soon be ready. Naidoo says that there are several steps customers can take today to prepare for a future on the cloud. One of these is ensuring that organisational changes are flexible enough to accommodate later cloud usage.
“The CIO, for example, may move into the role of more of a service broker than a service provider and, as such, should begin developing metrics, skill sets, and a budget mix based on that transition rather than the traditional service provider model.”
He adds that an understanding of the concepts behind security in the cloud and the risks and benefits it provides is also vital.