Five blunders to avoid on your way to the cloud

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The day has finally come to migrate to the cloud. But just a minute, Tex. Let’s do a last minute final review of some of the fundamental mistakes to avoid before you pull the trigger:

1. Leaping into the cloud

Some people seem to think that simply shifting to the cloud will magically make IT cheaper and more efficient. Spoiler alert: It won’t.

Presuming you’ve addressed fundamental questions about whether you need  Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or perhaps Platform-as-a-Service cloud services, you then must decide on which cloud provider and/or partner you’ll work with to set up your cloud. Running up a cloud yourself is probably not a job you want to tackle with just your internal staff.

Partners, for example, can help you address questions such as: What programs can you lift and shift to the cloud ? Which ones won’t work well in the cloud? Is the IT team up to the challenge of moving to the cloud? What about your corporate culture? Can some of your data not be moved because of HIPPA or other regulations?

Answer all these and you’ll be ready to start moving.

2. Failing to understand the real costs

Yes, when you move to a cloud you’ll be saving capital expenses. You will no longer need to buy new servers every year. But, and it’s a big but, what will your operational costs really come to?

For example, it’s easy to set up new servers in the cloud. You just push a button and, ta-da, it’s running. Need more storage? With a few clicks you’ll have all the storage you’ll ever need. It’s so easy to do, it’s easy to forget that all those services come with an hourly bill. If you’re not keeping a close eye on your costs, you can run up monthly bills that will put your old capital costs to shame.

Until you’ve done your financial analysis, and your technology analysis, you’re not ready to move to the cloud.

3. Presuming Service Level Agreements are all the same

Cloud Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are not created equal. Even minute differences in SLA language can make an enormous difference to your bottom line. For example,many cloud service providers average their SLA uptime percentage [99.95%] over a year.” Others, offer 99.95% uptime over a month.

What difference does that make? Over a year, your cloud system could be down for four-hours and 23-minutes before you’d get any cash back. Over a month, you can be down for up to 22-minutes. Say, you’re an online retailer. How would you feel about not getting one red cent back with an annual SLA plan if your cloud crashes during the December holiday rush for four hours?

Not good.

Sweat the SLA details. You’ll be glad you did.

4. Believing one cloud size fits all

What kind of cloud will work for you? Let’s presume you made the easiest cloud move, which is to IaaS. Do you want to do it as a public, private, or hybrid cloud? These use very different methodologies.

Just because Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the most popular public cloud service, doesn’t mean it’s the right cloud for you. Maybe it will be Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, or an OpenStack-based private or hybrid cloud.

Until you’ve checked out the pluses and minuses of each technology, of each cloud partner, you’re not ready to make the move to the cloud.

5. Presuming you can do it all yourself

Lately, I’ve been running into a lot of companies that  think they can move to the cloud by themselves. Some of them can. Others have bought into the hype that the cloud is easy. I hate to tell you, but no, clouds aren’t easy.

A cloud is not “a bunch of someone else’s computers.” Clouds look simple from the outside, but on the inside they’re complicated. I haven’t been to a trade show in years where essentially all the companies in attendance are looking for staffers with cloud experience.

So, consider partnering with a consulting firm or cloud provider that can help you setup your cloud the right way the first time.  Sure, it may cost you more in the short term, but in the long run getting professional help with provisioning your cloud will save you money.

If you do cloud right from the start you’ll be much better off.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be going deeper into each of these topics.

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