Planning is Everything – how to ensure cloud success

Behind the hype, cloud really does offer some remarkable opportunities.

As with everything in IT, though, the right plan makes the difference between a happy journey… and crashing to earth with an expensive thud. Meridian IT’s cloud expert, Rob Simione, takes time out to answer some questions about making cloud work for you.

Q: There has been plenty of excitement in the industry about cloud, but have businesses stepped in rather too quickly?

A: I think in Australia and New Zealand, we are generally good at considering carefully how to use any new technology, rather than rushing in. Our customers are smart enough to know there is no silver bullet. There have been situations, mainly overseas, where too little attention has been paid to evaluating workloads, and this has led to some serious issues.

Q: So how do you make a plan that avoids these pitfalls?

A: It might sound a bit less exciting than some of the hype, but methodical evaluation of application interdependencies really pays off. Typically we would audit a customer’s environment before making any recommendations, so that there are no nasty surprises later. Good practice and common sense are as relevant with cloud as they are with traditional infrastructure.

Q: What else do you assess as part of this planning process?

A: Typically the decision to move to cloud is made by the IT department, or purely based on moving to an OPEX model for financial reasons. It is the workforce who are the end users, though, so it is vital they are consulted. Therefore when planning a move to the cloud, on any variant of the platform, we must consider end user adoption or training. Focus needs to be on benefits, ease of use and enablement for the end user.

Q: Is data sovereignty still an issue for your customers?

A: Very much so. Some, such as government organisations, have legislated requirements of course. Even without the legal considerations, though, it is something we urge businesses to think about carefully. When data is held outside of Australian jurisdiction, for example, it is subject to the laws of another country. If any difficulties are encountered, that could mean seeking redress in overseas courts, something most organisations are keen to avoid.

Q: There are many types of cloud. Which are proving most appropriate for your customers?

A: As we know cloud comes in different forms, be it IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, BaaS, or DRaaS. Each of these needs its own set of planning and due diligence to determine if it is the right fit. It really comes down to each unique set of circumstances and business culture. Where possible, we also highly recommend a proof of concept or "trial" the workload before making a commitment.

We are noticing that different sized organisations view "as a Service" in very different ways. Smaller organisations are looking to move simple workloads to cloud, where larger enterprises are seeing benefits in a Storage as a Service model, whereby they get the latest technology in storage, on a monthly fee, based on what they use. This means that they are not paying for a very large capex and can tap into whatever storage type they want at a predictable monthly fee.

Q: What other advice would you offer anyone considering cloud?

A: Be very clear on what you want to achieve, and work with someone who can talk you through all the alternatives without an agenda. If someone has a vested interest in a particular cloud option, they will naturally have a different perspective from someone with the independence to consider all options. A solution should always be shaped to fit your business, rather than vice versa.

For independent advice about cloud, or to chat with one of Meridian IT’s friendly cloud experts, contact us.