Getting Your Cloud Journey Right: Well Begun Is Half Done

by Mitesh Agarwal, Vice President- Solution Consulting and CTO- India, Oracle

The benefits of moving away from an on-premises infrastructure have been demonstrated across different industries and within different business units. Despite research firm Forrester predicting that half of large enterprises will be running production workflows in the cloud by 2018, it is obvious that many companies still lack a clear, long term cloud strategy. Where should you start?

The Five Cloud Models

A great starting point for any organization looking to migrate to the cloud is with Software-As-A-Service (SaaS). Easy to purchase and set up, these front-end enterprise applications have immense power to help modernize the business across Sales, Marketing, Finance and HR. They provide a modern work experience with new functionality as well as the chance to introduce social, mobile and new data analytics capabilities alongside existing on-premises applications. For example, adding talent management into a traditional HR solution. As these modular building blocks can be used to either complement or replace legacy applications, they make an ideal way of handling one part of the transition from on premises into the public cloud.

Platform Cloud services often form the next step. Cloud, by nature of being a shared offering, comes in one size; but that doesn’t have to fit all! Most SaaS offerings allow a level of personalization, similar to that of your iPhone. You can’t mess with the underlying code, but you can add your own apps, data, wall papers and ring tones. This enables organizations to meet their specific business needs and easily upgrade the software, something that was impossible in the legacy world of highly be spoke software applications.

For companies that want to go one step further, Platform cloud empowers companies to extend their cloud applications to make them ‘best’ fit their business, giving added deployment, integration, business process management and security capabilities, as well as enabling mobile application development, content development or digital engagement strategies.

The third cloud journey is with Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).While SaaS brings in new features and functionality, IaaS is about hosting your existing applications in the cloud, significantly reducing the effort, expertise, and expense required to own and run infrastructure. A typical starting point is with test and development environments, as they enable you to dip a toe in the water without touching mission critical enterprise systems. The long game for many is to eventually move production and high availability zones to the cloud.

Organizations not yet ready for the public cloud can start by consolidating and virtualizing their legacy systems. This can be done in stages. Companies have the option of using ‘cloud ready’ converged infrastructure, that comes ‘in a box’, removing the need to buy, integrate and run separate servers, storage and networking. This can be operated either in a traditional way in the company’s own data centre, or setup as a private cloud. In addition, increasingly there are options offered where companies can buy in to options that enable them to run the public cloud from behind the firewall in their own data centre as well. They can decide the journey based on the persona and requirements. This is the fourth model that companies can choose when migrating to the cloud.

Even the most advanced cloud adopters typically do not make a complete shift. Every enterprise has multiple systems on-premises at different stages of their lifecycle. For most there will be an extensive period of coexistence, with applications and data living in both on-premises and cloud environments. Just moving everything to the cloud would reduce the value of rather large investments made into on-premises systems, both of hardware and software. Add to this various regulatory/compliance requirements that dictate where and how data can be located. Therefore, a typical cloud strategy will need to include both new cloud services and legacy on-premises environments, public, private and most likely hybrid cloud approaches, new innovations, with the ability for existing business processes to coexist. For this reason, the hybrid approach, is gaining popularity, and is expected to be the dominant approach by companies in cloud for some time.

Every enterprise is different. Every cloud journey will be too

As organizations step up focus on transformation and innovation, successfully orchestrating IT modernization with cloud as the beachhead will be the key. A unified cloud vision that fully aligns with your organization’s business plans helps set the right context for your cloud journey.