18/11/2016
OCSL Editor

Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Multi-Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, IaaS, PaaS and SaaS – how many cloud terms and definitions do we need? Despite the proliferation of choices and terms, there’s little doubt Cloud is front of mind for every CIO.  A few weeks ago I listened to Michelle Bailey from 451 research speak about the adoption curves for cloud.  Michelle’s research indicates there's likely to be a mix of clouds, evenly spread between various types.  So, how does this impact choices CIO’s and CEO’s have to make?

Is there a right Cloud service model for your organisation?

There is no one silver bullet, no one single answer.  But for most organisations - small, medium and enterprise level in my view, the hybrid world is most likely to win out.

What do I mean by "hybrid?". I mean an organisation using different cloud platforms for different things, brought together by a single control panel.   Michelle from 451 neatly sums this up.  Her definition is a single application distributed across different cloud platforms.  For example, an N-tier application with a web tier in a public platform (such as Azure or AWS), a middleware/application layer in a hosted tier and a database tier on a private cloud.

Different clouds, for different workloads. Sounds simple enough. Or does it?

Let’s just think for one minute about the complexities of that.  So, aside from the need for all application tiers to communicate with each other, what about the poor old operator who needs to monitor it, back it up and fail it over?

How does hybrid cloud choice affect the general grind of IT Ops day in, day out?  On one level, Cloud has the potential to speed things up and be a driver of efficiency.  On another, without careful planning, it can throw a massive spanner in the works. Get it right, and teams are released from their daily run-of-the mill activities.  Get it wrong and you’ll be bogged down with new systems and processes your team haven’t had fully time to get to grips with. Applications that haven’t been tweaked to work in a new cloud environment. A lack of interoperability, gaping holes in security and a raft of different contracts and support services you don’t have time to keep tabs on.

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success

The single most important decision you need to make about Multi Cloud and adopting different Cloud service models, is to be prepared.  Without preparation, entering the Cloud race is subject to risk and failure.  In reality the hard work starts way before you actually switch a workload on or migrate a service.   Initially, it’s about putting your heads together, looking at challenges from different angles, then coming up with the best solutions. 

From working with a huge number of clients, we've learned it’s important to adopt a calm, measured approach. Intelligence and understanding is everything. It sounds simple but the more you know, the better decisions you can make. There's so much choice, that having clarity around where you’re starting from and where you’re trying to get to, is key.

Using a Cloud Enablement Framework

From our own experience, clients, who go through a robust Cloud or Enablement Framework, are those who have the greatest chance of success.  An approach that's as relevant for early adopters as it is for those taking their first steps.

What’s really interesting about the Hybrid approach for me is that it opens up opportunities. For example, we work with many organisations in the public or third sector. For them, security and availability are always going to be top priorities.  Working in partnership, we’ve been able to help identify ways to use Public Cloud, but still keep data and systems safe.  See our case study on Public Cloud in the NHS.  There are no right or wrong choices when it comes to cloud.  Let’s take email as a simple example. For one customer something like O365, a SaaS offering, might be the chosen platform. For another, a privately dedicated hosted Exchange platform could be the better choice.

So there may be more and more cloud platforms and cloud service models to choose from, however, I believe a consultative, planned approach  and choosing the right multi cloud provider is essential for successful digital transformation.

 

Going to HPE Discover 2016? Come and visit us on Stand 116 in the Service Provider Pavilion to find out more.  Alternatively you can pre-book a 1-2-1 with Iain or any of our experts. 

Thought piece