So you've moved your organisation's computing to the cloud and the future looks bright.
Yes, it's a step in the right direction, but simply moving to the cloud will not guarantee that you experience all of the benefits cloud computing has to offer.
To get the most from cloud computing you'll need to make changes within your organisation – changes to your processes, architecture design, governance and possibly even your philosophy.
So what needs to change and where do you start? Every business is different, of course, but here are five areas that should be a focus for every organisation.
Becoming agile is the driver for many organisations to move their systems to the cloud, but plenty who make the move believe that just by being in the cloud, they become more agile. This is not necessarily true. Cloud computing makes it easier to be agile, but it doesn't make agility a fait accompli. Without the support of the right processes and direction within the business, the real benefits of agility will be lost.
When you're in the cloud, the potential is there to create new test and development environments without the need for expensive market research, feasibility studies or new infrastructure. You can test ideas in the marketplace and identify successes and failures quickly and with limited expense. But if your team is resistant to this and other related methods, your organisation may be agile in theory only – not in reality.
Automation is Key
With cloud computing, you can leverage scriptable infrastructure, and no longer need to rely on manual processes to initiate changes to your infrastructure. By embracing automation within your organisation, you'll save time, reduce the potential for errors, and create a digital footprint that makes it fast and easy to identify and fix any deployment issues.
To implement effective automated processes, you'll need cloud infrastructure, configuration management, and deployment scripts at the core of your applications. These should be written by the same team of developers, which ideally is made up of internal IT staff working together with specialised DevOps engineers. This team is responsible for the code and versioned subfolders of the application's root folder in your control system. Once you're set up for automation, every configuration and change to your system will be easily trackable, which provides you with valuable information moving forward.
The ability to scale your applications to meet your demands is one of the cloud's biggest drawcards. You may have the data centre capacity to cope with peak periods, saving resources by reducing output when it's not required, but it's often laborious and in most cases not worth the effort.
When moving to the cloud, you don't want to be paying for infrastructure that's not being used. But you do want room to move so you can scale your process loads up or down if needed. Working with specialised cloud development services from the start will ensure your cloud capabilities have the flexibility to match your requirements now and in the future.
It's essential that your cloud computing architecture is resilient and able to cope with any potential failure. Deploying your workloads across multiple data centres is a lot easier when using a cloud computing provider, but not all providers have a fully automatic process.
Organisations such as Netflix have released tools that cause system failures so as to test the resiliency of applications deployed by cloud providers. Ask yourself: would your applications cope? Your organisation should be testing for every potential failure that your system may encounter to minimise the potential for harm and to increase your resiliency.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of cloud computing is that it allows you to focus on running and growing your business instead of devoting endless time managing your IT. But to get to this point, you'll need the right processes and the right support in place.
Your internal IT team can benefit greatly from working with an external cloud development and operations company. They'll provide specialised advice, develop and implement the systems you need, and work with your team ongoing, providing support and direction to keep you on track and ensure you're getting the most from the cloud.
Bottom Line on Moving to the Cloud
Cloud computing offers businesses of all types the potential to improve and automate processes, be prepared for future growth, and free up valuable time that would otherwise be spent on manual procedures required to run their IT systems. When this potential is reached, and the maximum benefits are reaped from the cloud, business owners, managers, and IT teams can redirect their time to strategic thinking, development and growth of their organisation.
The key to success is to understand the potential of the cloud, identify how it fits with your business, and adjust the way you think and operate. By combining the talent of your team with the expertise of external cloud specialists, you'll set your business up to make the most of everything cloud computing has to offer.
Plus, if you find the right cloud computing partner who can guide you in not only the development and implementation of change, but also partner with your business and provide ongoing management of your systems and processes, you'll truly reap the rewards of the cloud and move your organisation forward.