We have seen enterprise cloud evolve a lot in recent years, going from specific workloads running in the cloud to businesses looking at a cloud-first approach for many applications and processes. This rise was also reflected in the Verizon State of the Market: Enterprise Cloud 2016 report, which found that 84% of enterprises have seen their use of cloud increase in the past year, with 87% of these now using cloud for at least one mission-critical workload. Furthermore, 69% of businesses say that cloud has enabled them to significantly reengineer one or more business processes, giving a clear sign of the fundamental impact that cloud is having on the way we do business.
These findings give a clear sign that whilst companies will continue to leverage the cloud for niche applications, enterprises are now looking to put more business-centric applications in the cloud. This approach requires designing cloud-based applications that specifically fit each workload — taking into account geography, security, networking, service management expectations and the ability to quickly deploy the solution to meet rapidly changing business requirements. As a result, a core focus for 2016 will be the creation of individual cloud spaces that correspond to the individual needs of a given workload.
The key to cloud is collaboration
This focused alignment has led to the role of enterprise IT evolving to that of a cloud broker that must collaborate with lines of business to ensure overall success of the organisation. By using an actionable, scorecard approach for aligning cloud solutions with the needs of each workload, enterprises can make more informed assessments on how best to support applications in the cloud.
Three practical steps are as follows:
- Consult the Business and Assess User Requirements: IT professionals should build a relationship with their organisation’s lines of business to accurately identify critical application requirements to create the right cloud solution. Some questions to ask include:
- What are all the barriers for successful application migration?
- What is the importance of the application’s availability and what is the cost of downtime?
- What regulations does the application and data need to comply with?
- How often will IT need to upgrade the application to maintain competitive advantage?
- Score Applications and Build a Risk Profile: The careful assessment of technical requirements of applications can mean the difference between a successful cloud migration and a failed one. A checklist to guide IT departments away from major pitfalls is important. Such as:
- Determine the load on the network
- Factor in time to prepare the application
- Carefully consider the costs of moving
In addition to assessing the technical requirements, IT professionals must evaluate the applications’ risk profile. Using data discovery tools to look at the data flow is instrumental to detecting breaches and mitigating any impact.
- Match Requirements to the Right Cloud Service Model: Choosing the best cloud model for enterprise IT requires a thorough comprehension of technical specifications and workload requirements. The following are key considerations to help IT directors partner with their business unit colleagues to define enterprise needs and determine the right cloud model.
- Does the application’s risk profile allow it to run on shared infrastructure?
- What proportion of the application and its data are currently based on your premises, and how much is based with a provider?
- How much of the management of the cloud can you take on?
Cloud is empowering IT professionals to gain a greater role in effectively impacting business results. Working in the right cloud environment allows for operational efficiency, increased performance, stringent security measures and robust network connectivity.
What’s on the horizon for cloud?
In the coming months and years, we will see an increased focus on the fundamental technology elements that enable the Internet of Things – cloud network and security. Networking and cloud computing are at the heart of IoT, comprising half of the key ingredients that make IoT possible. (Security and infrastructure are the other two.) This is not surprising considering IoT needs reliable, flexible network connections (both wireless and wireline) to move all the collected data and information from devices back to a central processing hub, without the need for human intervention. Similarly, cloud computing provides the flexibility, scale and security to host applications and store data.
Going forward, success will not be measured by merely moving to the cloud. Success will be measured by combining favourable financials and user impact with enhanced collaboration and information sharing across a business’ entire ecosystem. Those IT departments that embrace the cloud through the creation and implementation of a comprehensive strategy — that includes strong and measurable metrics and a strong focus on managing business outcomes — will be the ones we talk about as pioneers in the years to come.
Written by Gavan Egan, Managing Director of Cloud Services at Verizon Enterprise Solutions