Are You Ready for the Cloud?

Now that most in the business world have some level of awareness about “the cloud” and its benefits, there seems to be an explosion of hype, panic, and confusion. Who’s moved to the cloud? How did they do it? Should we do it? Will we lose our competitive edge if we don’t move to the cloud? How do we do it more quickly than the next company?

There’s No Need for the Cloud Chaos

Take a collective breath. The truth is that the move to the cloud isn’t really a move at all. It’s more like an evolution. Your company can “go cloud” in baby steps or big steps – but not in one step. Begin to migrate systems and applications into the cloud – making these decisions with business goals in mind, while continuing to manage enterprise systems the way you always have—until it is practical and efficient to take the next step. There’s no need to rush to become entirely cloud based simply because it is the newest technology or because the competition seems to be doing it.

Think of it this way: You wouldn’t buy a plane to replace your car just because it might get you to work faster. It’s not practical or efficient. You wouldn’t drive your car just one block when walking is a better use of your resources. “Going cloud” follows the same logic.

Still, companies are falling over themselves to become cloud compatible. According to the Gartner Research 2012 forecast, “cloud computing spending will grow from $39.2 billion in 2011 to $45.9 billion in 2012.” Gartner expects spending on cloud computing and related cloud services to reach $207 billion by 2016. There is indeed a draw to cloud computing—it offers big time rewards like affordability and scalability, but with it comes a new set of risks and sophisticated implementation processes. Not to mention the familiar, and ongoing, challenges of constructing secure, reliable, and efficient software. These critical elements, if overlooked or rushed, could stall, crash, or jeopardize business functions and work.

The Cloud: Ahead of Its Time?

James Staten, the infrastructure principal analyst at the research firm Forrester, summarizes a 2012 enterprise cloud study and asserts that while the cloud is ready for enterprise, enterprise is not yet fully ready for the cloud.

“Long term, enterprises will have a hybrid portfolio of cloud and non-cloud workload deployments that uses this breadth of options to optimize resource and agility requirements. In this future state, the majority of systems of engagement workloads will be cloud-resident while your systems of record evolve to cloud at a slower but deliberate pace.”

Staten credits this predicted development to the revelation that not everything is “going cloud” and that the IT world finally has an understanding of what is cloud worthy and what isn’t.  While being armed with this new knowledge is helpful, there are other ways to make the best decisions for your company’s cloud journey.

Plan Your Trip Accordingly

Discuss readiness planning. By evaluating IT systems for cloud readiness, a company can assess every situation imaginable and be prepared for it.  The Forbes.com article, When You Move to the Cloud, Plan for the Storms, warns, “Evaluate the roles and failure modes of cloud services in your application, and how they affect durability and availability. The essential strategy to mitigate risks of data loss and downtime is to add redundancy and reduce dependencies wherever possible.”

Once there’s a calculated understanding of which parts of business are cloud ready and which aren’t, a company can begin to migrate and take advantage of the benefits cloud computing offers, including the reduction of particular operating costs, and increased scalability and speed.

As with every journey, one must plan realistically – and strategically. The cloud is definitely a great place to visit, but you may not be ready to live there.

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