Low Risk Adoption of the Cloud, part 3: Creating a Cloud Migration Plan

This is the third part in our series on Low Risk Adoption of Cloud Infrastructure for Enterprises. In this installment, we’ll look at how to create a cloud migration plan.

Once a business has assessed its reasons for migrating to cloud infrastructure, it needs to develop a roadmap for which parts of its IT operations it will move, and in what order. The first priority is to develop a plan that minimizes risk, including deciding how to evaluate vendors and their service offerings. The IT team also needs to determine what new skills, if any, they need to develop, especially in the area of vendor  management. 

Low risk offerings

More Than IaaS

As you know by now, nScaled provides infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) for enterprise customers. Gartner’s name for the product category we’re in is “cloud infrastructure-as-a-service”.

By now, most people are beginning to understand the differences amongst IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. A terrific illustration of the differences is here.

But it’s not so simple (it rarely is, is it?). Because what we provide to our customers is definitely more than IaaS. Here are some examples:

Low Risk Adoption of the Cloud: The Drivers

I’m following up on last week’s post about our new white paper, Low Risk Adoption of Cloud Infrastructure for Enterprises.

I’ve already explained the basic idea: that businesses must develop a strategy for adoption of, and migration to, the cloud, to ensure that they get all the benefits they’re looking for, while minimizing risk. Here’s what’s driving businesses to the cloud in the first place…

Core v. Context

New nScaled white paper: enterprise cloud adoption and migration

We’ve just released a new white paper, Low Risk Adoption of Cloud Infrastructure for Enterprises. You can download it here.

I’ll discuss this topic in a serious of posts, but I’ll lay out the basic argument here.

At nScaled, we think the scales have tipped towards cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) enough that most businesses don’t need to be convinced of the benefits of moving some or all of their data center infrastructure to a cloud provider. Likewise, we think most CIOs aren’t trying to explain to the CEO and CFO what cloud is, or why they should evaluate cloud, but rather CIOs are explaining HOW their company should adopt cloud infrastructure: what servers and workloads should move to the cloud, and when. And how they’ll migrate to the cloud while minimizing risk to the organization (technology risk, business risk, financial risk).

Everyday Disasters

This post was written by Mike Hamilton, nScaled Solution Architect…

When hearing the words “Disaster Recovery” it is really easy to conjure images in our minds of utter catastrophes. Natural disasters come to mind – tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods. When it comes to protecting data and maintaining operations, it is easy to see how things like natural disasters could impact a company’s ability to protect data and maintain operations.

As human beings we face the risk of things like natural disasters and how they would impact our lives, and yet overall the frequency and likelihood of such disasters is fairly low. Even when disasters like this happen, the overall impact can vary widely.

Backup strategies are a component of a larger disaster recovery strategy

This post was written by Mike Hamilton, nScaled Solution Architect…

It used to be the case that disaster recovery was an implied part of the backup process. I say it was implied because the devil really is in the details. Most people would say they had a plan and could recover from an outage but few ever actually tested for the sake of proving the model. The presumption back in the early days was that you could always recover from tape and that if your data was backed up then the ability to recover from a disaster was implied. Given the technologies at the time along with slow WAN connections it was always understood that the concept of disaster recovery using tape was at best going to be a “best effort” kind of recovery.

Can Hardware and OpEx Work Together?

As you know, one of the things that nScaled does a bit differently from other cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers is we implement a Hybrid architecture, with an nScaled Local Cloud Appliance installed on the customer’s LAN providing business continuity and local backup, plus the nScaled Remote Cloud Data Centers providing the scale-up / scale-out elastic capacity for backup, failover and test/dev.

We think it’s the right architecture for corporate IT shops that want safe, secure and flexible cloud infrastructure. But it brought up a challenge in our pricing. See, customers have come to assume (rightly) that cloud services are billed monthly and move off their capex budget and onto their opex. Sweet. But everyone assumes that appliances are paid for with capex. We sure did.

“Infrastructure does not differentiate us in any way”

You’d think a cloud IaaS provider like nScaled would hate to see a sentiment like, “Infrastructure does not differentiate us in any way,” coming from the lips of a CIO. But quite the opposite – it’s why we’re here. When a business is ready to admit this to itself, they’re ready for our services.

I’m quoting from a great piece over at NetworkWorld, profiling Jim Honerkamp, CIO at Steel Technologies, and their recent move to the cloud. I’ve never met Jim, but I have to tell you – this guys gets it! He goes on to explain:

“Infrastructure does not differentiate us in any way, shape or form in the marketplace. To be a strategic IT organization, you have to be delivering value in technology tools, either to strengthen customer relationships or to be used as weapons against the competition.”

Enterprises Need Clouds, Not Droplets

I just read an interesting story about the Apache LibCloud project. It’s an interesting development in cloud computing for certain groups. But I don’t think mainstream enterprises aren’t one of those groups. Here’s why.

LibCloud, and a lot of other cloud technology providers, are all about providing a la carte menus of commodity-priced, on-demand computing and storage that the customer can assemble into the solution they want.

In other words, these providers aren’t actually supplying clouds. They’re supplying droplets of water vapor, requiring the customer to assemble them and turn them into clouds.

How To Not Lose Your Data

Once again I’ll start by citing a very nice story that came out today. This time, it’s David Gewirtz at ZDNet writing about the data that was lost in the Amazon outage last week.

Gewirtz lays out some excellent advice for his readers, including something that I would like to expand upon. He suggests, “If all your data’s in the cloud, back up to a local environment.” This is a great idea, but not totally obvious to many businesses thinking about shifting their IT data centers to the cloud. Having backups, and backups of backups, is vital, and many companies will never feel safer than when they have one of those copies on their premises.