For most UK businesses, the matter of adopting a cloud solution is not a question of if but rather which one. Research by the Cloud Industry Forum predicts that by the end of 2015, 90% of UK enterprises will be using two or more cloud services.
To prepare for a successful transition to a cloud environment, it’s important to know what to expect and make sure potential cloud providers can meet the organisation’s goals. Here are six considerations.
1. Review BC/DR plan and prepare environment
Before moving forward with a cloud solution, look at your business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) plan, specifically the business impact analysis, to see if it’s up to date. Evaluate whether the business functions are lined up appropriately with systems and applications interdependencies. Aassign the appropriate recovery time objectives (RTOs) from business, client and compliance perspectives.
2. Make sure vendors can meet data security, availability and portability requirements
When evaluating cloud vendors, make sure they’re able to meet your requirements for data backup and recovery. If a vendor has completed a third-party audit, that’s a good indication that the service adheres to data handling best practices. You should also know up-front how a vendor handles data migrations. When moving from one platform to another (e.g., physical to virtual), data needs to be both portable and recoverable in the new infrastructure.
3. Examine each party’s responsibilities
Vendors typically have standard service level agreements (SLAs) outlining what they’re responsible for in terms of uptime, redundancy, recoverability, etc. Review the SLA carefully to find out what the vendor handles and what you’re responsible for.
If you have an RTO tied to an application, validate the process and document the results to make sure the SLA will work with your business’s requirements.
4. Know how the cloud environment is maintained
Typically the cloud infrastructure is handled by the vendor. In a traditional cloud model, the cloud vendor owns and operates the hypervisor down through the hardware stack on behalf of the customer, which controls systems from the OS up. If you're using a replication technology, updates in production will replicate to the cloud. When recovering data, the systems will restore to the latest backup point.
5. Consider how software licenses are handled
Be familiar with the provisions of software application licenses. Some software applications allow users to run a secondary copy at time of event free of charge as part of the license. Others may require a separate license, sometimes at a reduced cost in the event of a disaster. Licensing considerations will also depend on the cloud vendor. Some include licensing as part of the service, but not all do.
6. Keep an open mind
Look closely at the solutions the vendor provides. Open-minded organisations might be able to take advantage of cloud capabilities they didn’t know existed, opening up new opportunities.
>See also: 6 predictions for cloud security
Whether implementing a cloud service for the first time or moving more workload into the cloud, having the proper expectations is key. By using the steps above to perform due diligence and select a vendor that meets your needs, organisations can help ensure a positive cloud migration experience.
Sourced from Matt Kingswood, ITS