Public Cloud Adoption – Seeing the Big Picture

Preparing for Public Cloud Adoption
Transitioning to public cloud applications can be tricky and take a long time to plan and complete. If you have extensive applications, systems or a diverse data portfolio, the challenge can be overwhelming without a good strategy in place. There are commercially available tools, such as RightScale, Cloudyn, and Puppet that allow you to analyze applications, systems, and data that will help you make intelligent deployment decisions. Some of the more significant aspects of that analysis are:

  • Determining usability patterns so that you can make decisions on which user types, applications, systems, and data can be bundled together in the same stack.
  • Understanding all of the dependencies, cross-app interoperability, OS support, and licensing so that a new change and configuration management approach can be developed.
  • Aggregating applications (public, private, SaaS, etc.) under a set of user portals that are each matched to the need of a department or functional group. You need to insure that you can manage all applications and data from one location. From a user perspective, all of the applications they need to access need to be available to them in one spot.

Considering the Impacts of Public Cloud
Cloud constructs change processes and the supporting infrastructure. Usage patterns and services themselves change. Control is now a concern, and integration is another huge issue. How do you integrate onsite services with cloud services?

Good IT Service Management (ITSM) practices must be followed as they play an immense role in delineating service management agreements, both internal and external. ITSM processes and procedures, including change management and release management, must be re-framed for cloud, focusing on service strategy, service design, service transition, service operations, and continuous service improvement.

Determining the True Cloud Cost
Begin with an understanding of your true cost structure and drivers – internal and contract labor, vendor fees, internal functions like application support and service management, and the total costs of your infrastructure. Then, project how these foundational CapEx and OpEx costs drive the total cost of services or products you deliver. Commercial products like Apptio are available for cloud cost monitoring and modeling. In lieu of a commercial product, search the web for an Excel spreadsheet template to help you model the cloud. Don’t be afraid to confront your cloud provider and ask for a fact-based cost document that covers ALL costs associated with their services.

Understanding the Management, Support and Maintenance Issues
There are a couple of things in play here. First is the degree of automation that the solutions provide. The more automation, the simpler the management task becomes. There are management tools, from hardware vendors and independent developers, and many of them integrate with the existing traditional IT management tools and suites. They also do a better job than ever before of improving management across disparate platforms.

The biggest problem you’ll likely face in this area is error discovery and error message dissemination. In a broad-based construct like cloud, there are many points of possible failure. You need a system that reports those errors out to other system components as well as to you. There’s a bit of problem with false positives, but many of the vendors are making strides to correct those issues. Dissemination of error messages and information is critical to providing a timely and correct solution.

A key question to ask yourself is: “how well have you negotiated the SLA with your public cloud partner?” There are lots of hidden costs associated with the public cloud beside pure operational cost. In addition, be sure to understand the availability/uptime SLA’s at a granular level when acquiring multiple cloud services from one vendor – the level of commitment each provider is willing to offer can be different for each service (i.e. application SLA vs platform SLA).

For more information, visit the OpenSky website.

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