The Cloud (IaaS) can help you achieve a wide variety of outcomes for your organization. Some of these are clearly strategic and transformational in nature –
- Reduce time-to-market for your revenue-generating applications
- Increase agility for your business – how quickly can a line-of-business change its go-to-market strategy or pricing strategy using IT
- Realign your IT infrastructure cost-structure from fixed, CAPEX-based to variable, usage-based OPEX
- Drive greater alignment between IT and business
- Drive down the cost of innovation for your enterprise
- Increase competitiveness of your business by lowering your unit costs for doing the most value-generating IT activities
This strategic and transformational potential of the Cloud has been recognized and embraced by startups and innovative enterprises and they have led the early-adoption of the Cloud.
But what if you are not a startup? What if your plate is full in 2015 with other IT initiatives leaving little room to pursue strategic and transformational goals? What if you are just a regular enterprise and IT is under-staffed and over-worked? What if your IT budget is already stretched thin with too many projects and not enough $’s/people? What if your current goals are tactical and incremental in nature? What if you are in blocking and tackling mode this year? What if your current mind-set towards the Cloud is exploratory? Or…in other words…What can the Cloud do for the rest of us?
The Cloud can help in incremental and tactical ways. Consider the following –
Data Storage in the Cloud – Your data is…how shall we say this…growing? You are having to buy additional capacity for your SAN/NAS every other year? The Cloud can help you. You can keep all your storage infrastructure that is working well today and connect the Cloud to augment your storage capacity. This way, your applications and databases will continue to work the way they do today but you will no longer have to play ‘capacity catch-up’ all the time. Using Cloud-storage solutions, you can dedup/cache/encrypt/index your data while creating an infinite-capacity storage infrastructure for your enterprise…and you only pay for what you use. The Cloud storage prices from AWS, Azure, and Google will make you love data again.
Backup in the Cloud – Backup – the thankless job done by IT that most people like to forget about until of course they need access to some lost data. Backups today are tough – tapes to rotate, jobs to manage, off-site tape storage expenses, administrative overhead to manage restores, backups in branch and small remote offices, etc. With Cloud backups – you will have options – you can keep your current backup software and processes but instead of backing-up to tape, you can backup to the Cloud; or depending on the type of data you are looking to backup, you can do snapshot backups to the Cloud. Either ways, there are opportunities to simplify backup, reduce RTO & RPO, and reduce your work and your costs associated with backing up and restoring data.
Archiving in the Cloud – data that you need to retain for the long-term for compliance, regulatory or legal reasons – the Cloud provides almost a perfect match for this use-case. This archival data tends to grow over time and take up space on your SAN and of course needs to be replicated to protect against loss. The Cloud will allow you to archive at very low costs and will allow you to reclaim your SAN for your applications.
Disaster Recovery in the Cloud – Another thankless function that IT worries about. Every enterprise would like its data and applications to be robust and to be available in case of a disruption or disaster. The goal has never been in question. What has been tough to figure out is how much an enterprise should spend on DR. DR has been expensive to plan for, prepare, test, document. Given that there are competing priorities for every $ of IT spend, DR mostly takes a back seat. The Cloud changes the game for your enterprise DR. For a substantially lower cost, you can provision DR for your applications and data with improved RTO and RPO. Also, you will only pay for it when you need to use it or test it. No long-term contracts. Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast brought home the reality of disaster recovery for too many businesses. Using the Cloud, your IT will be able to plan, prepare, provision and test for DR at a cost that your business will like.
Non-production environments in the Cloud – Dev, Test, QA, Training, Demo – these non-production environments need hardware, software, space in the data center, time and energy from the infrastructure team. These environments usually undergo changes and have to be provisioned quickly. IT infrastructure teams struggle between the competing priorities of supporting Production and making a best-effort towards provisioning and maintaining these non-prod environments. Not to mention, the CAPEX associated with these environments. The Cloud offers a compelling option for these non-prod environments – provision/change quickly, pay as you go, shutdown after you are done.
Applications in the Cloud – this has been the use-case that drove early Cloud adoption. Development teams saw how quick and easy it is to set up their development environments in the Cloud and embraced IaaS and PaaS models. Even if application development in the Cloud is not a current priority for you – the Cloud provides interesting options for you. If you have applications that are on older hardware, the Cloud can be a good fit. Your legacy applications, non-critical business applications, applications that are yet to be retired, etc. are all candidates for Cloud migration. The Cloud will allow you to bypass hardware/software acquisition and refresh and reduce your CAPEX associated with supporting your legacy applications or non-business-critical applications.
Data Center consolidations – Do you have a data center lease expiring? A small, non-standard DC that became part of your footprint through an acquisition? An older data center that is not yet fully retired? A secondary data center whose fate is undecided while the enterprise-wide data center strategy is being figured out? Any of these could be candidates for consolidation into the Cloud. A data center is an expensive resource and the Cloud can be a destination for your workloads from your secondary, smaller data centers.
While the strategic and transformational benefits of the Cloud await, you can definitely use the Cloud to address your tactical, day-to-day IT challenges. The use cases described above can lead to immediate cost savings and flexibility for your business. More importantly, they can be the quick wins you will need to increase your organization’s confidence in the Cloud and to begin your Cloud adoption journey.