Is Your IT Service Portfolio Delivering What You Need?
The business world keeps changing, including the technologies, the devices used to conduct business, customer preferences, regulatory requirements, and more. New applications are being developed to keep pace and others modified to meet emerging needs. New software is continually released that is stronger, faster, and more efficient. Innovative tools and equipment are rolling out to help streamline operations, facilitate collaboration, combat the constant barrage of increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, and more. Cloud environments are helping to make it all possible. Not surprisingly, a lot of companies want to move their workloads there.
But, not everything is changing. Or, things are changing in ways that make moving to the cloud not the most desirable option — at least for right now.
When the Cloud Isn’t Right
For some companies, it’s not fiscally wise to move to the cloud and walk away from recently purchased IT infrastructure. For others, the interdependencies between mission-critical applications and legacy systems make it difficult to migrate to the cloud. Then there are companies that are concerned about security, data privacy or perhaps regulatory compliance, and lack the in-house expertise to provide the necessary guidance.
Still, others must contend with a lack of support from or understanding among upper management support in terms of cloud migration. And, there are those companies whose applications simply won’t perform well in the cloud — or would require extensive reworking to make them perform as well. Chances are, your company can relate to one or all of these scenarios.
The Case for Hybrid IT
The fact is moving to the cloud isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. In fact, most companies would benefit more from having an IT service portfolio that employs multiple IT environments, one of which could be the cloud. But how do you transform what you have into what you really need? Is a hybrid IT strategy right for your company? What role can and should the cloud play? And, what about issues such as cost?
What You Have. What You Need.
Before jumping on the cloud bandwagon, assess your current IT service portfolio. The following are some of the tasks required.
- Measure, analyze and understand your workloads. Are things working well as they are? Will they work in the future? Determine your anticipated demand pattern, geography profile, and delivery requirements. How can various IT environments accommodate the volume of growth you anticipate, as well as any unexpected spikes in demand?
- Assess your data. What kind of data do you have? Where does it reside? You’ll need to be able to access and monitor it no matter where it is along the end-to-end data path. Mapping the flow of data through the application will help you get a better picture.
- Understand the needs associated with your data. Do you have specific security or privacy needs? For “general purpose” data with low-security needs, a commodity-type public cloud service might be a very cost-efficient option. However, if you have “sensitive” data, a cloud service that offers higher levels of security – and possibly PCI or HIPAA compliance – may be in order. Identify which part of an application handles your sensitive data. What security policies do you have in place to protect your data? Are they applicable to various IT environments or will you need new ones devised?
- Adopt and deploy a service-oriented architecture. Decompose applications and understand the demands of your workloads. Anything that is mission-critical and/or sensitive can be separated from your non-critical components so you can find the appropriate environment for each one. You can also compose them into more complex workloads, and put them into integration hubs. If you will be moving to the cloud, take advantage of the repeatable services the provider offers. Many companies decompose their applications and move everything to the cloud, missing out on using the services provided by the service providers.
- Look at your investments in any on-site infrastructure. What’s the expected lifespan of the equipment? Do you have any maintenance contracts associated with the hardware? Is it performing as needed and providing the necessary uptime? Are the workloads you’re currently running on this equipment required or could it easily be moved to a colocation or cloud environment? How much labor is required to operate and maintain it?
- Review your company’s goals and requirements, short-term and long-term. Are they changing? Can IT support them as is or do you need more resources, new capabilities, additional power, less latency, scalability, or anything else?
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The benefits of the cloud are undeniable, but there’s a lot to consider before making the move there — including how and if it fits in your IT service portfolio. Wondering if you should invest in cloud services?
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