Cloud Computing For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon
Many companies that have begun to move into the cloud don’t do a lot of planning. Executives in different business units began to use public cloud services out of frustration because of inefficiencies in the IT organization. Over time, the cloud has taken a front seat in the way the overall business is approaching their future of computing platforms.

cloud computing do's and don'ts ©Ye Liew/

It is increasingly clear that it is no longer good practice to simply move ahead with cloud services without a plan. Without careful planning things will invariably go wrong. Here are some ideas about what you should do and what you should avoid as you begin your journey to the cloud.

Do Plan for Cloud Native

As your cloud strategy matures, you should begin to think about building services based on a cloud native architecture. One of the benefits of cloud native is that you are building services that are designed specifically to operate in the cloud. A key benefit of cloud native services are modular and are therefore built with microservices and packaged in containers.

You will want to focus on a continuous development and deployment approach so that your applications and services are constantly evolving based on changing customer needs.

Do Plan for Data Consistency and Manageability

Ironically, one of the reasons companies look to cloud computing is to move away from the silos of data. In the highly distributed model of the cloud, data is stored across a wide variety of applications and services. There are many issues confronting businesses as they look for ways to manage data so that it can be effectively used to help the business understand results and plan for the future.

Although many tools allow data to be integrated across silos, it is more difficult than it may appear. To be successful, it is important that there be a common catalog where data elements are defined and managed. It is important that the organization understands the nature of stored data — for example, can data be readily shared or are there restrictions based on privacy requirements?

You also need to understand how the data can be used and who is allowed to access and change that data. You also have to consider where data needs to be located. For example, certain countries have rules that restrict where personal data can reside. When you need a fast response, you may want to place data near the source where queries are taking place. Security, governance, and manageability are top issues for managing data in the cloud.

Do Decide and Plan for Cloud Services

Public cloud services offer incredible ease of use and flexibility to add and subtract services as needs change. Increasingly, businesses are finding that they’re using more than one public cloud across the organization. For example, one set of developers may have standardized on a specific public cloud while another business unit may rely on a different platform. It is not uncommon for one company to use as many as five public clouds. In addition, these same businesses may be using hundreds of different SaaS applications. It can be difficult to keep track of all of the cloud services that are being used. It is therefore important to use tools that can discover what services are being used and by which departments.

In some cases, you’ll be in a good position to negotiate advantageous financial terms with cloud providers. When selecting public clouds, it will be important to focus on those that are using standards such as Kubernetes, Istio, and Dockers so that you have a better chance of having some level of portability across cloud services. When you determine that you need private cloud services review the offerings that use the same standards as those available on the public cloud. Consistency will make planning and execution much easier in the long term.

Do Have a Service Management Plan

As the hybrid cloud that consists of many different services in many different deployment models, you need to prepare for multicloud and hybrid cloud management. You do need to start thinking about all your public cloud services, platform services, SaaS applications, private clouds, and data center services and applications as a unified computing environment. There are many different levels of management that you need to consider and plan for. Do decide what is practical to do right away and what you’ll do over time as technology matures.

Initially, for example, you need to be able to monitor each service that you use for performance and security. Test new service management products and services as they become available so you’re ready when these services are mature enough to support your long-term plan. Begin evaluating management platforms that provide you with visibility across your entire computing environment. In the long run, you’ll want to understand performance across all services as though they were one computer.

The bottom line is that you want to demonstrate to your internal customers, external customers and partners that you can provide them with a well-managed computing experience.

Do Plan for Portability

Many companies that are using SaaS don’t make plans for the future, including what happens if their SaaS vendor goes out of business or becomes too expensive. Another issue to consider for the future is what you’ll do if you discover a different SaaS vendor who is better able to meet your needs.

You do need a plan for how you can move your data from one cloud environment to another. Make sure that your selected vendors provide a simple and inexpensive way to move your data. You don’t want to be surprised. With the advent of microservices and containers, it’s becoming more likely that you’ll be able to focus on portability. It may not be as easy as you would like, but it’s an important practice to get ready for the future.

Do Plan for Security

Security can’t be ignored in a cloud environment. In fact, fear of security breaches is one of the primary reasons that management is hesitant to move key services to the cloud.

Security is more than simply putting workloads behind the firewall. Organizations have to make sure that they have security across all their assets across all the cloud services they’re using. One of the biggest risks is to make sure that sensitive data is protected through encryption techniques. Do make sure that you have a well-constructed plan to protect your data no matter where it lives.

Do Execute on an Overall Hybrid Cloud Plan

When you’re creating a cloud strategy, it’s important to think about an overall plan for the services that will live across the public and private clouds and the data center. Many cloud services will be shared by developers in your company and with contractors. These same services may become product offerings that you provide to partners and customers. It’s therefore important that services are well tested, monitored, and catalogued.

At the same time, you have to know what your company’s IT assets are so that you can create a hybrid environment that’s accurate and efficient. Unless you control the quality of your overall environment, your company will be at risk. If you’re using a public cloud or a SaaS application, does your management care whether your application and data reside in a multi-tenant environment?

In most cases, multitenant is a secure and well-managed environment. However, you may have circumstances where your management team wants to isolate your company’s intellectual property from those belonging to other businesses. While it may not be technically necessary, it may be a governance requirement demanded by the business.

Don’t Rely on Only a Single Vendor

It’s tempting to find a cloud vendor you like and stop. However, that can be a mistake. Do plan to work with more than one cloud vendor so that you’re not stuck if something happens. Anything can happen. A vendor can have a catastrophic failure and be out of commission for a few hours or a few days. For example, if you’re developing and deploying an important application, you may want to have it replicated in several regions or on several different clouds.

You won’t understand these distinctions until you have some experience with cloud computing. This is especially important when you’re working in a hybrid cloud environment. You may find that certain cloud services require the capabilities of a high-performance network. Other services may not require this type of sophisticated performance. You need to plan for all the different requirements.

Don’t Over Invest in Licenses

Many cloud vendors create packages to make it attractive for their customers to buy in bulk. So, it’s tempting to buy more licenses for more years because of price. However, this can be a trap if you over-buy.

For example, a vendor might offer you half the list price per user per month if you sign up for 100 users over three years. The price is so attractive that you take the plunge, only to discover that you really are supporting only 25 users. No vendor is going to let you scale down those licenses once you have signed your contract.

At the same time, keep track of the tools you use to enhance your SaaS applications. Are these tools provided by independent vendors with well-defined APIs? Are the tools proprietary to that application? You need to determine which approach is going to service you best in the long term.

Don’t Overlook the Need to Manage Infrastructure

One of the reasons companies are attracted to the cloud is that they don’t have to worry about the details of managing software and infrastructure. However, don’t be fooled. Even if you’re using only a couple of public cloud services, you need to keep track of the performance of these vendors. If you’re using a customer relationship management SaaS platform and it’s unavailable for a couple of days, who is to blame? It’s quite likely that the sales and marketing team will blame the IT department, not the vendor. Increasingly, IT will have to provide performance, governance, and security oversight of cloud services.

Don’t Leave Your Data Center Alone

It might be a relief to use cloud services to get around some of the inconsistencies and complexities of the existing data center. However, it’s dangerous to assume that the data center should wither and die. The data center will remain viable for many years to come. However, you need to continue to transform it so that it can work in collaboration with cloud services. So, don’t leave your data center in the dark. Begin to plan a strategy to optimize the data center so that it handles the applications and tasks it’s best suited for.

Don’t Ignore the Service Level Agreement

All public cloud vendors, including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS providers, will offer some sort of service level agreement that explains what obligation the vendor assumes and what risks you have to assume.

No vendor will take on obligations it doesn’t have to. So, it’s up to you to read the fine print and understand exactly what reality looks like. For example, no cloud vendor will reimburse you if you lose business because the service is not operational. They may indeed give you the money back that you spent on a service, but that will be small comfort if you’ve lost an important customer.

So, you must decide how much risk is acceptable. This information will help you determine which services can reside with a commodity cloud service provider, which ones need to be with a provider that offers a higher level of service, and which services should remain in your private cloud.

Do Move Forward and Don’t Look Back

We think that the movement to the cloud is inevitable. However, it’s not a strategy that you should adopt without careful planning. You must deal with issues in the cloud that are very different than those you encounter in a traditional data center. Software license models are different. Vendors take some responsibility for protecting your data and the performance of your services. However, the responsibility will land with your own company. Therefore, you need to move forward armed with the right information and with the right level of caution. However, if you take the right steps, we think that the future can be quite exciting.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Daniel Kirsch, Managing Director of Hurwitz & Associates, is a thought leader, researcher, author, and consultant in cloud, AI, and security. Judith Hurwitz, President of Hurwitz & Associates, is a consultant, thought leader, and coauthor of 10 books including Augmented Intelligence, Cognitive Computing and Big Data Analytics, and Hybrid Cloud for Dummies

This article can be found in the category: