To The Cloud: Transition or Transform
Everyone hears about the cloud and that they should move their business there, but what does that actually mean? The cloud is just an umbrella term for highly available on-demand computers that are managed and run by a 3rd Party. The largest cloud providers at the moment are Amazon AWS followed by Microsoft Azure.
There are two ways for a business to move the cloud: Transition or Transform. Depending on the type of business and how much risk is involved, this move to the cloud could be a slow one or the initiative could begin overnight.
In the case of a new product or business, a transition won’t be necessary as you can start with a cloud-first strategy and develop your product or service offering for the cloud from the onset. Hopefully, the application has been developed with a Transformative approach so that it can utilise all the benefits the cloud providers offer. Otherwise, they have just transitioned an app to a cloud provider which could be run from any data centre.
For an existing business, there could be a huge amount of risk associated with moving to the cloud and this is scary. You don’t have to move to the cloud overnight and change everything; this approach rarely works and is scary for a reason.
First, you need to Transition.
Then you Transform.
It doesn’t matter if you have Line-of-business apps or internal or customer-facing apps; the above approach works for all.
The Transition to the cloud allows you to start leveraging the cloud provider’s infrastructure and remove infrastructure from your own organisation. This starts to reduce costs and lowers the amount of internal management that has to occur. You first need to start with the smallest things that are being done by your internal infrastructure and slowly move these to the cloud to free up resources internally.
If you use Virtual Machines within your organisation, this can be started by first utilising Virtual Machines in the cloud. This change would not affect anything besides the way the machines are hosted and how they access your network.
Once you have transitioned one piece of infrastructure to the cloud you can then make a plan to begin Transforming it and utilising the cloud infrastructure instead of relying on existing structures and procedures.
I was provided with the following example of how to follow the Transition and Transformation flow. An organisation was maintaining a VM within their own infrastructure, only with the purpose to run a backup script nightly. This script took 45 minutes to run but the VM was utilising resources 24/7. Using the transition approach we could move that VM to the cloud in its exact state and nothing would change.
Then you could consider the Transformation to the cloud, and how the VM could better utilise cloud resources. You could take advantage of automation within Azure to turn to the VM on/off based on a schedule, cutting costs and only using resources when required.
You could then further transform the backup by determining if it can be run in another type of resource, replacing the VM entirely. Is it something that can be called via code and executed on its own? If so, it could be scheduled to run daily from a cloud function that allows for long processing and dramatically reduces operating costs without losing any functionality while gaining more insights into how it’s operating.
The cloud can offer many advantages for businesses moving operations or apps; from the ability to burst in performance and scale on demand, to reductions in management and operating costs. How your business transitions to the cloud is not a straight-forward approach and needs to be planned thoroughly based on your requirements.
When you’re asked ‘is your cloud strategy transitional or transformational?’, you can answer with ‘por que no los dos?’ (why not both?).