Introduction

Ok! So, you have got all the lowdown on the benefits of moving to the cloud, and you are raring to get it all moving. Great! But before you start it off in right earnest, here is a fact. Nearly a third of cloud implementations are failing. Do you have experienced staff or leader to take you through to the cloud? Do you have to hire the services of an external cloud implementation partner? What different models can you choose on both the implementation side and the service model side? These are questions that do not have easy and quick answers.

You need experts to get answers to these questions. Now mind you, this article is not at all about stopping you from booting into the cloud. This is a quick checklist sort of an article that talks about how to ensure that you have a successful, sustainable cloud implementation.

On various scales, 56% of Cloud Implementation Failures were attributed to a lack of deep knowledge in cloud security and compliance. 55% of such failures lacked a clear business case for migration to the cloud. 44% of failures attributed it to insufficient planning.

Firstly, what is Cloud Implementation?

Well, in simple terms, Cloud Implementation is the execution of a plan that finally gets you there and gets you the end product of a successful cloud implementation. 

What are Cloud Implementation Models? Are they the same as Cloud Service Models?

The short answer, no, they are not the same. Long answer, Cloud implementation Models is the answer to the question, “How” do you want your model implemented? The keyword is “How”.  You can implement your cloud as a subscription to Public Cloud, have it on-premise as a Private Cloud or subscribe to fully managed Private Cloud, have the best of both worlds, with a Hybrid Cloud, or have a Multi-Cloud setup.

Cloud Service Model is the answer to the question “What” do you want to be provisioned on the cloud? The keyword here is “What”. Is it your IT infrastructure? is it your software assets or web assets? Or a mix of both? The answers will usually result in it jazz-like IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, and all their variants.

Cloud Implementation Steps/Guidelines.

Your Cloud implementation plan varies according to the implementation model and the service model you choose. There are some general guidelines that you are advised to stick to when you are taking your business through this overhaul.

  • Solid Business Case

Assess if you really have a business case, a clear reason why you would want your business to run from a cloud. Without a business case, you will not have a purposeful goal, and without a goal, you will not.

  • Assess “What” you want on the cloud

This obviously should be a decision taken in consultation with IT teams. You could start small and, with experience, move bigger chunks to the cloud. It could be IT infrastructure, or Software applications or your web assets, or a mix of both.

  • Setup a Centre of Excellence for Cloud Implementation

Implementing a Cloud solution is no doubt one of the major activities that you would carry out for your business. For that to permeate through all layers, you need a focused team. This team keeps a steady vision on the goal, prepares and distributes all kinds of communication about the implementation, project timelines, hires experts on the team, and gains the clout to get things done to achieve that goal. This team should have all the necessary structural support like a PMO to drive the initiatives and deadlines, a change management team, executives that can enforce changes, anything that works for driving forward.

  • Deliberate and hire services of a reputed Cloud Partner

It is crucial that you take the help of professionals in this business who have had the expertise to move mountains’ worth of infrastructure over to the cloud. They understand the challenges and can prepare for the cloud implementation and offer you a failsafe plan. If not a cloud partner, try to get some senior IT architect who has experienced migration to the cloud. Training your own staff and then attempting to migrate your infrastructure is not a very good idea, to be honest.

  • Start small, test repeat.

It has been noted that most businesses that have had success in moving to the cloud have moved piece by piece; they avoid big bang multiple application migrations. It is a long-drawn plan agreed, but it is one of the most effective ones. You can pick up the pace and move much more with the experience gained from moving smaller chunks.

  • Assess your current infrastructure cost and resources

You want to be able to have a benchmark to test your cloud implementation against. You would need to assess your current IT infrastructure’s performance, physical footprint, financial footprint, and document all you can.

  • Decide on “How” you want your cloud infrastructure to serve your business.

Remember “How”, as we discussed, is how you want your cloud implemented. Whether your business aligns well with having a public cloud or the kind of business you are into demands a private cloud. Would you rather have a mix of both? This is a decision that your IT team will help you to take. You also have to bake in the cost implications of this decision, as a private cloud is expensive upfront but might reduce your TCO over the long run compared to a public cloud, the economics of which will have to be worked out by your executive or management team.

  • Come out with a Migration Plan that complements your goals and vision.

A plan that details what needs to be migrated, how and by when the migration will occur, the testing schedules, and the production date. Bake in some flexibility in the schedules for contingencies, they happen.

  • Decide on a vendor if it is a public cloud or a Managed Private cloud

It is crucial you pick a vendor who has expertise in managing infrastructure for a business similar to yours. Research well on their successes and failures before you zero in on one vendor.

  • If you are fresh to a cloud, stay out of the lake

Data lakes will need the experience to handle, they are massive, and if not managed well, they become a liability, more than an asset.

  • Beware of Vendor lock-in.

If you are in for a public cloud model, you have to ensure that you are not stuck with that vendor. A cloud strategy that is more vendor-agnostic is desirable.

  • Data Backup, Disaster Recovery

Before your migration plan kicks in, ensure you have all your important systems backed up adequately. This will be a significant task, so plan it well. In the case of a Public cloud, enter into a suitable agreement with the vendor on Disaster management and Data Recovery, two important aspects which are generally overlooked.

  • Robust Internet Connectivity

Cloud resources are only as good as your internet link-up. Ensure you have a failsafe plan when it comes to internet connectivity. Having a backup link is desirable.

  • Public Cloud Trial

Pubic Cloud vendors usually allow you to trial run their cloud, so you feel how things will work out on migration. Get the most out of the trial period. Although a trial period is free, it will be good to investigate and forecast the cost of usage when you are off the trail.

  • Public Cloud SLA

You can agree with a vendor on a service level agreement for a minimum performance and efficiency guarantee. This has to be monitored from time to time.

Conclusion

Cloud implementation is a long-drawn process for a sizeable business. As the saying goes, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”-Benjamin Franklin, planning is key.

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