Cloud has become an indispensable mode of business agility, improved services, scalability and cost savings. Businesses around the world are leveraging the cloud benefit for transforming their existing systems. We live in a world where cloud is powering almost all technological advancements. Gone are the days to legacy software, which are struggling to keep pace with the latest advancements in technology. Customers today want to seize and respond to opportunities quickly, they need tools to make these decisions. Cloud is an enabler for enterprises to make it happen by providing a connected business processes and ecosystem.
The benefits of cloud are overwhelming for companies, but a careful approach is required to migrate the existing IT systems and processes to cloud. The cloud migration should ensure that availability, scalability, business process automation, reliability, security and attainment of objectives for an organisation. The existing applications need to be analysed so that they can operate & scale when moved to cloud without disrupting business processes. Some key steps in adoption of cloud:
A. Assess the Cloud Architecture:
The deployment of your existing applications, data and business processes can be done on cloud as per the preference of the organisation. The types of cloud delivery models are as follows:
1. Private Cloud : This cloud option is designed to be used by a single organisation. The application and the data resides on a private cloud which may be controlled by the organisation. This mode is meant to provide exclusive infrastructure to the organisation.
2. Public Cloud : The cloud infrastructure is shared by multiple companies and organisations. The application and data base is hosted in a shared environment and accessible over internet. This is the most generic mode of deployment used for cloud applications.
3. Hybrid Cloud : Sometimes the requirements of critical business processes require localised hosting, in such a case, the business processes may dictate the deployment options. Some applications are hosted in the local environment of the company or over private cloud and other data/applications can be migrated to public cloud.
There are other deployment options as well like community cloud, which might be used for specific purpose or requirements like policy or regulatory compliance for say government, healthcare or other such regulated industries.
B. Migrating the Services & Application
It is pivotal to analyse the Data storage requirements, its volume, speed, accessibility for users, and successful migration of the application on the Cloud servers. Some of the important aspects that require careful planning are as follows:
1. Analyse Database size : The database size can be determined by the storage used by existing applications. How much storage is required after migration? What is the volume of data that needs to be in the active application state? Is there a need for archiving non transactional data? These questions need to be addressed before moving to the cloud.
2. Applications : When businesses are moving to cloud, not everything needs to be moved to the cloud server. There are some processes which might not provide a great deal of benefit on the cloud. A careful consideration of the ROI, business processes and systems must be done to ascertain the value proposition of moving to the cloud. The applications and services should be moved to cloud based on the benefits to end users and business process improvisations.
3. Migration of Existing Applications : Migrating existing applications requires moving the existing storage and application to a different server. The applications must be tested in the cloud environment for sanity and should be fine tuned so that it can be readily available to users. The compatibility of application with cloud infrastructure, performance and seamless migration for the end users is critical. The OS on the cloud server must be compatible with application, database server etc. These issues need to be sorted so that the application can perform well.
4. Data Access : Keeping data safe is high on priority for most organisations. The data security can be ensured with privileged access, authorisations and IP address based location tracking etc needs to be ensured. The cloud security service levels and standards for data access must meet regulatory standards.
5. Back-up & Disaster recovery plan : One of the key advantages of moving an application to the cloud is redundancy of data and provision against disaster recovery with back-ups of data in remote DR sites. The cloud infrastructure must be evaluated and back-up; DR services for your applications must be configured as per your application requirements.
6. Availability of Application : The service level agreement of the cloud infrastructure must ensure that your critical applications are available 99.99% time. The downtime must be minimised so that the business is not affected by the updates, maintenance or other such operations at the infrastructure level.
7. Operational Efficiency & Scalability : The cloud infrastructure is powered with virtual machines, which can be scaled as per the usage of the applications. The scalability is an important aspect of migration to cloud. The cloud infrastructure service should provide easy upgradation of storage, and servers or virtual machines as per the dynamic usage increases. Automatic notifications and updates should be sent to trigger the upgrades efficiently and proactively.
8. Application Performance : The performance of applications and services on cloud must be carefully assessed. The bandwidth, storage, CPU speed on the cloud server must be optimised for high performance application. In many cases, the legacy applications are required to be redesigned for optimized performance on cloud. The best in class applications may also be leveraged for specialised functionalities like CMS, AMS, HRMS, and Payroll etc.
9. Security : One of the most critical aspects of cloud based migration is security. The cloud infrastructure providers have very advanced and sophisticated offerings for client security. The security services can be configured to ensure that users can connect to cloud service only from a VPN network, firewalls can prevent spurious traffic, and SSL encryption should be done for prevention of eavesdropping, man in the middle attacks etc. The front end best practices for security like authentication, authorisations, session management, fingerprinting, must be done to ensure high level of security for business applications & data. The application vendor must also be able to provide the audit logs and changes trail in the application.
10 .User experience : The services or applications in the cloud should be designed to improve user experience, services & efficiency of business. The application should be designed to support new users and different client devices without hassles. The mobility, multi device and platform support should be provided for seamless user experience and productivity of users.
Technology is an enabler for businesses to work more efficiently and for providing them peace of mind. The right technology provides management, monitoring and automation of a business for growth and great returns. The organisations should ensure that they work
with vendors who can provide them end to end cloud migration services. If required they can rope in vendors to create customised applications for running their businesses with cloud based services. The end goal is seamless transition and hassle free operations to power the business processes.