Aug 29 2018

VMworld 2018: A Guide for Your Business’s Move to the Cloud

As more organizations embrace the cloud, here’s what you need to know as you move your infrastructure off-premises.

These days, the cloud is becoming as ubiquitous in business as email. In fact, according to Forrester’s 2018 cloud predictions report, the global public cloud market will reach $178 billion in 2018. By the end of the year, more than half of global enterprises will rely on at least one public cloud platform for digital transformation.

With that said, many businesses are still finding their way to the cloud. For those organizations still looking to migrate their operations, Paul Schaapman, CTO – Mid-Atlantic for CDW, offered several tips at the VMworld 2018 conference in Las Vegas.

When Should a Business Make the Move to the Cloud?

The first step in a businesses move to the cloud is to lay out a robust and appropriate cloud strategy, Schaapman said. While many businesses cite the desire to leave their data centers as a reason to migrate to the cloud, the move has to make sense from a strategic business and IT perspective.

“The cloud is not a thing or a place, it’s a methodology,” Schaapman said. “You have to ask yourself, under what circumstances would I start or move a service to the cloud?”

Migrating to the cloud isn’t always the right decision. Sometimes it makes sense to keep operations and infrastructure on-premises, said Schaapman. There are downsides to consider in moving to the cloud: unpredictable cost savings, the need to manage multiple service-level agreements, vendor lock-in and difficulty with patch management, among others.

However, the cloud can offer several benefits for businesses, Schaapman said, including:

  • Faster service delivery
  • Disaster recovery
  • The ability to budget as a capital expenditure (CAPEX) rather than an operating expense (OPEX)
  • Reduced administrative burden
  • Improved collaboration, security, global reach, agility, simplicity and flexibility

The Cultural Considerations of a Move to the Cloud

Moving to the cloud for the first time is a big cultural shift for many businesses, particularly for members of the IT team, who may be nervous about seeing their jobs outsourced, said Schaapman. In reality, moving to the cloud doesn’t eliminate IT jobs, it changes them, often freeing up staff to focus on innovative projects or mission-critical objectives. This is something IT teams should embrace.

Aren’t we the agents of change?” asked Schaapman, referring to IT teams and leaders. “Why should we fear change? Why would we want to do the same build on a virtual machine from an ISO every single day, 20 times a day? Why would we want to do that?”

To facilitate the move to the public or private cloud, businesses must leverage their virtualization infrastructure, Schaapman said: “You should understand the costs of the services you deliver today.”

For example, when moving email to a public cloud provider, knowing the current cost for in-house email delivery can help build a business case for the move.

8 Steps to Determine Application Dependency

Another critical step is to inventory all applications, advised Schaapman, stressing that it is imperative for businesses to understand their current application dependencies.

An application dependency map provides an effective way to do this. Schaapman offers eight “R’s” as a starting point to determine application dependencies:

1. Regroup: Assemble a small team — maybe six or seven people — to determine objectives, responsibilities and timelines for the move, including infrastructure, network, applications and more.

2. Rehost: This is the process of moving your workload from your existing infrastructure to a solution based on Infrastructure as a Service.

3. Replace: “This is the ideal scenario where you actually analyze your application, and you found that you have a comparable Software as a Service product to replace the one you have in-house,” said Schaapman. Typically, existing data requires migration to the SaaS environment.

4. Refactor: Refactoring involves running your applications on the cloud provider’s infrastructure, also known as Platform as a Service.

5. Rewrite: The most extreme way to move to the cloud, this involves rewriting an entire application. “This has the highest cost because you have to carry the cloud while you are rewriting the code, which can take up to two years,” he said.

6. Revise: Some applications will need to be modified in order to make them cloud-friendly, Schaapman says, although latency issues make this more difficult to achieve.

7. Retire: “Just delete it,” said Schaapman. Businesses should assess whether every application they’re using is truly necessary, or if it’s redundant or being used by only a small number of employees.

8. Remain: “Just leave it alone,” said Schaapman. “This is actually going to be a trend of the majority of applications for the next three to five years while we assess what applications could or should be moved elsewhere.”

“Dependency mapping is critical to making decisions about what service is moved,” said Schaapman. “And believe it or not, over 90 percent of customers that I talk to don’t know their application dependencies.”

Read more articles and check out videos from BizTech’s coverage of VMworld 2018 here.

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