Even though 28% of spending in key IT segments will shift to the cloud by next year and global software as a service (SaaS) spend topped $100-billion in the first quarter of last year, it is still concerning that many organisations do not truly understand the business reasons for making the transition.
By Corne du Preez, cloud evangelist at Altron Karabina
It is therefore critical to have an adoption framework in place that provides insights on what workloads need to be moved and the strategic reasons in doing so.
The ‘why’ should provide decision-makers with the necessary guidance on the components vital to become cloud-based given their requirements. This will result in identifying issues such as on-premise hardware being out of warranty and even highlighting what the essential cloud services are that the company would need such as SaaS, platform as a service (PaaS), or infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
This framework will also provide clarity on the governance components of the cloud and how companies should manage the proposed cloud-based services to align with local compliance requirements. Fundamentally, this framework must be in place before companies even start with their cloud assessments. It needs to translate into something that can be applied by both technical and business users inside the organisation.
Understanding the cost
Part of this framework entails a cost optimisation component. This will provide an understanding of what the costs of the migration and the running of systems and processes in the cloud will be. Unlike on-premise environments where the focus is on keeping the lights on, the cloud is about keeping the lights off. If a business runs every process around the clock on the cloud, it will not be long before it becomes prohibitively expensive to do so.
In fact, most companies still believe the cloud is more cost-effective than remaining on-premise. And while this is true to a certain extent, if they do not have insights into what they must prioritise for the cloud, it can quickly become a costly undertaking. Overall, a company must understand the implications from business, technology, and people perspectives if the transition is to be successful.
And once the identified workloads have migrated, this is where the governance must kick in. Things such as ensuring security measures are in place, having a proper disaster recovery plan, and even appointing someone to monitor and looking after this management are all key elements.
This is where having Microsoft Azure data centres locally have become so important. These can greatly assist in taking care of the regulatory requirements and address the disaster recovery component more effectively. For example, by using the Azure data replication service to make a backup of all organisational data in the cloud, by the time the decision to transition is made, the entire process becomes less intimidating.
Even after becoming cloud-enabled, the initial focus is about right sizing. Inevitably, as companies have access to cloud-based services and features, they will use more resources than anticipated. This requires the company to go through an exercise of customising each process for their specific business needs.
For example, by identifying what services to leave running and which ones to stop at certain times can result in massive cost savings. If just a few services run for 12 hours a day from Monday to Friday, the company suddenly saves more than 100 hour of resources utilisation a week. This can make a significant difference to the monthly bill.
The next several months will see more companies locally moving away from an IaaS model. Instead, they will examine the opportunities behind serverless computing and leveraging the likes of PaaS and SaaS to enable this more effectively.
This can best be described through the well-known pizza-as-a-service analogy.
With IaaS, the cloud vendor supplies the pizza dough and toppings, but the company still needs to make the pizza, use its own oven, gas, and fire, and even have its own table and drinks. When it comes to PaaS, the business only supplies the table and drinks. And with SaaS, the cloud provider takes care of everything. It is akin to ordering a pizza from a take-away restaurant, having it delivered, and eating it at home.
The cloud certainly does provide for exciting innovations and benefits for organisations across industry sectors. But it must make strategic reason to do so with a business use case firmly in place.