Cloud is very real. Many IT organisations I talk to have already moved some workloads to the cloud and have a desire to move toward a private cloud environment within their own data centre.
I think this strategy has gained momentum for a number of reasons, such as clients’ recognising the pressure internal IT departments are under to provide much higher value to the business, while dealing with limited resources.
Also, this pressure is extending to scrutiny of the internal IT department as a whole, and how it might compare to what external cloud services offer.
Furthermore, the promise or belief that hosting and supporting corporate workloads from an external cloud will save the company time and money.
Because of this, it is important that IT departments begin to provide cloud-like offerings like those of public cloud providers – elasticity, agility, self-service, automation, metered usage, and more – in a private cloud infrastructure that operates from behind the company firewall.
At the same time, while having the flexibility to provide external cloud services where and when it is best suited, so the company can gain maximum benefit.
Where to first?
IT needs to understand where you are now and where you want to be – your data centre strategy and where cloud fits in.
To fully understand how to get from where a client is on the path for their data centre or cloud strategy, we need to help the client determine exactly what the current state of their IT environment looks like today.
In addition, cloud readiness also needs to be assessed if the end goal for the client is a public, hybrid, or private cloud.
The industry seems to recognise five stages for cloud maturity or readiness, which I’ll cover below. Without reaching a certain level of maturity, it is much more difficult for a company to move to cloud, consume from public cloud and then measure if what they are consuming provides the benefits they were seeking.
Cloud Maturity Stage 1: Consolidate
In the New Zealand market, with the proliferation of VMware, HyperV and other virtualisation technologies, we can pretty much tick this one off.
There would only be a few non-virtualised workloads within our major clients, and these wouldn’t be candidates for cloud anyway. So let’s move on.
Cloud Maturity Stage 2: Integrate
The focus of this stage is to look to integrate diverse storage and networking systems together, as well as work on standardising operations, processes and practices.
Unified solutions that offer networking, storage and servers as a single solution are sometimes considered as a more cost-effective and easy-to-deploy option.
Beyond standardising operations, the focus here should be on more efficient tackling of mission-critical workflows and applications.