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How to Figure Out Where to Start with Cloud Computing

The blessing and the curse of cloud computing is that it is actually quite easy to get started. In many cases, you start with the cloud as a technical approach first and then move to a strategic approach over time. One of the benefits of cloud computing is that for very low cost you can try out a service, find out how it works, and how it might benefit your company. You simply sign yourself up for a service.

And that might be a fine starting point. However, make sure that you’re thinking strategically, not just about one or a series of cloud services; investigate how these services fit into your overall computing strategy. You need to ask yourself the following questions.

How tangled is my computing environment?

Whether you’re a small or large company, you probably have a lot of applications. Some applications may have been developed internally, whereas others may be packaged software. What makes a computing environment complicated? There could be hundreds of these applications with thousands of dependencies that are difficult to untangle. Most data centers have evolved over time into a complex, tangled web of applications, servers, and networks.

What’s my data center environment?

When you consider peeling off some applications and moving them to the cloud, think about the impact on your overall business. Many computing environments aren’t set up as a series of well-defined services.

Analyze your computing environment’s current state. This type of analysis gives you clues to possible cost savings. Instead of moving applications directly to the cloud, you might actually have to start by simplifying your internal computing environment.

Take a hard look at your data center:

  • Is the architecture consistent or does each application have its own architecture?

  • Are there common business services used by multiple applications?

  • Are these common business services self-contained (or do they depend on other applications and services in your environment)?

  • Has your organization implemented workload management?

The more service enabled your computing environment becomes, the better prepared your organization will be to take advantage of various cloud services. It’s much harder to move components into the cloud if you can’t separate applications or business services from your data center services.

What data supports my cloud strategy?

Consider the information running in your data center. Before moving any data into the cloud, you need to think about privacy and compliance issues, security issues, and data management issues specific to your company.

It might seem a lot of work to go through the exercise of understanding your current environment. It’s crucial to helping you pick the right cloud strategy for your organization.

  • You may think the best starting point is to implement Infrastructure as a Service to add incremental storage capacity to support a new business initiative.

  • You might decide to use Platform as a Service to limit the capital expenses needed to develop a new application.

  • Another starting point might be to add Software as a Service to analyze what the market is saying about your products and any possible acquisition targets.

  • Some organizations might have the need for a Business Process as a Service (such as a supply chain service on demand) that could support testing a new line of business.

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