Data centers have been revolutionized by cloud computing, but the uncomfortable fact for many IT professionals is that revolutions can be painful. The golden age of plugging-in on-premises servers and calling it a day are coming to an end. Moving a company’s data center to the cloud is an important milestone in transforming a business into a digital enterprise.
The role of IT is to meet that challenge, and it affects members of the team all the way up to the CIO level. A January 2016 Gartner analysis states that moves to the cloud tend to increase CIO influence with CEOs, as the CIO becomes vital in generating the financial efficiencies, fast delivery and innovation required to create a business success. But that kind of response requires action.
The cloud isn’t going away. IT departments need to position themselves now so that they can say the same about themselves. This article will look at three key milestones that CIOs can meet to ensure that they don’t miss out on the full potential of the cloud.
Slow to React, Quick to Fail
From the budget level to the typical three-to-five-year-refresh cycle of a data center, IT leaders are used to taking a long view of their operation and planning. Being responsible for budgets, team management and swapping out physical nodes and appliances with new hardware, IT leaders are used to looking ahead. Ahead usually means towards the cloud: while some CIOs are accelerating their migration projects, others are still hesitant about moving production workloads and mission critical applications to the public cloud, even with all the great enterprise case studies available. So, the question remains: Why?
There is a fundamental flaw in human psychology that prevents people from taking action when they should. It can happen when a person sees someone else get injured in front of them in the street, when a drink is spilled at the table or, in the case of IT professionals, when they are not acting on all the information that indicates a move to the cloud is necessary to stay competitive. It’s called the bystander effect, and the main reasoning behind it is that people convince themselves that someone else is going to take care of the problem. But if you’re in charge of your company’s IT department, no one else is going to migrate your system to the cloud unless you do something about it.
The Three Cloud Adoption Milestones
The first cloud data centers made their services available ten years ago. The time to wait is over. Cloud technology is rapidly moving ahead without traditional IT departments. Infrastructure as a Code (IAC), the programmed deployment of virtual environment, is making it easier for companies to deliver new releases with less room for human error. Methodologies such as IAC are the reason why businesses already in the cloud are outperforming those still relying on dated technologies. At this point, not being on the cloud is a good indication that a business is headed in the wrong direction. The following three cloud migration milestones are fundamental to adapting existing IT structures to digital enterprise frameworks. At which stage are you?
Milestone #1: Rebuild and Refresh
Data center build-outs in the cloud can help fill up infrastructure resource demand holes. Demands like building new test/dev environments can put stress on on-premises data centers for more hardware and a whole new farm. In the past, test/dev requirements would mean compromising on tests deploying both the app and the database on the same machine. For these kinds of temporary demands, the on-demand cloud offers a more efficient way to replicate whole resource stacks, allowing for the creation of multi-tier environments identical to production. Recognizing that, we hope you already have your test/dev/demo and other temporary, non-mission critical environments at least running in the public cloud.
While you may currently have some lingering doubts about migrating a mission critical application, you would be in the minority of IT executives. In a 2016 poll conducted by SADA systems, 103 of the 210 respondents answered that the primary reason for moving to the cloud was that it was “the most secure, flexible and cost-effective solution” for their companies. The poll also shows that though security was a major concern in adopting the cloud in the past, the technology has ultimately proved reliable enough for IT leaders to overcome those fears and make the move.
Milestone #2: The Hybrid Approach
Once you pilot the cloud with your QA teams, for example, the next step is to address the risk in having two separate silos consuming resources. The natural move is to see how you can link together your on-premises and your public cloud environments. You don’t want your team to waste time and resources manually replicating the environments back and forth on a repeating basis due to their incompatibility. That means looking into the feasibility of deploying hybrid solutions that can help your teams streamline automation operations. If done right, a hybrid environment will not only help you move your workloads and data, it can also create well- balanced and cost-optimized environments where steady workloads remain on-premises.
Once IT leaders uncover incompatibility, networking and security challenges, they can bridge them with native tools and with a private cloud solution that will be compatible with their public cloud infrastructures. These hybrid strategies ensure workload mobility, streaming data into cloud storage without scrapping physical appliances and the years of knowledge that go along with them.
Milestone #3: Enterprise DevOps
You will quickly see the benefits of the cloud’s flexibility and scalability, but without automating resources and workload movements between development and operations, you’ll miss out on the cloud’s full potential. As IT enterprise leaders look to move towards DevOps, they realize the great challenge the transformation presents, both from an organizational and a cultural perspective. These challenges are also present on the operational side, as they mean introducing new integration, configuration and test automation tools as well as advanced engineering practices such as continuous integration and delivery.
These concepts, together with the highly heterogeneous enterprise environments, push IT leaders to consider automating workload mobility through a combination of bare metal machines, VMWare VMs and public cloud resources. Are you already there? Are you looking into adoption of configuration and integration tools? Has your team already built their playground for Docker containers and Kubernetes?
Waiting on the rest of the industry to reach these milestones before you do is probably the worst decision a CIO can make. While every one of your company’s competitors learns valuable lessons already operating in the cloud, they are increasing their profit margins by eliminating the costs of on-premises data centers. That is an edge that most companies can’t afford to give the competition.
No matter what kind of business your IT team is in charge of, the move to the public cloud together with modernizing your resource and application delivery pipelines will position your team as an extension of the world’s leading tech company. When presented with a choice between the safety of doing things the way they’ve always been done or saving the organization by taking action, you need to put your resources into moving to the cloud. You, as the CIO should position your team into the role of trusted advisor, guiding the company through a successful transition to the digital marketplace from a department that remains essential to the business.
Ariel Maislos, CEO, Stratoscale
Ariel brings more than 20 years of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship to Stratoscale. After a 10-year career with the IDF, where he was responsible for managing a section of the Technology R&D Department, Ariel founded Passave, now the world leader in FTTH technology. Passave was established in 2001, and acquired in 2006 by PMC-Sierra where Ariel served as VP of Strategy. In 2006, Ariel founded Pudding Media, an early pioneer in speech recognition technology, and Anobit, the leading provider of SSD technology acquired by Apple in 2012. At Apple, he served as a Senior Director in charge of Flash Storage, until he left the company to found Stratoscale. Ariel is a graduate of the prestigious IDF training program Talpiot, and holds a BSc from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science (Cum Laude) and an MBA from Tel Aviv University. He holds numerous patents in networking, signal processing, storage and flash memory technologies.
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