Network Management Systems Birmingham

Enterprise Cloud Adoption Part II – Lessons From Cloud Leaders

While early cloud adopters blazed a trail with their migration towards OpEx spending models and reduced infrastructure investment, many made costly strategic mistakes. And as the rest of the world races to catch up, the same mistakes are still being repeated.

But there are some best-practice principles which can help your business avoid mistakes and maximise return on your cloud investment.

1. Start with security

Moving data to the cloud is relatively easy – but if it is not properly secured, you risk potentially disastrous consequences. Losing data creates problems with customers, partners and regulators with long-term implications.

Because of this, successful cloud deployments have security as one of the foundational principles. This means that data is secured edge-to-edge to properly protect against loss or theft.

Successful cloud adopters build security strategies around three key factors:

Risk and compliance – ensuring security standards can be monitored, understood and managed consistently across the entire estate. Leaders will use automation to accelerate and scale monitoring to ensure their growing cloud estate is properly protected.

Security controls – leaders will adopt hybrid tools that provide comprehensive, consistent protection for systems in the cloud and the local data centre. All of their security processes are upgraded to deal with this new hybrid operating model.

Governance – Cloud technologies may change the way your IT systems work, but the same compliance rules still apply. Leaders upskill their employees to ensure they are equipped to deal with this new reality. They will also deploy tools capable of enforcing compliance requirements across all systems, regardless of location.

2. Build a transformation blueprint

It’s a well-worn cliché, but those businesses who carry out the most planning are also least likely to make basic mistakes with their cloud deployments. Leaders are effective at building an effective strategy and governance capabilities.

Their blueprints will include a business-driven and unbiased business case for their projects, underpinned by return on investment. They will also refine and improve communications and oversight, and they recognise the need to develop a culture that embraces change.

3. Evolve your operating model

Cloud technologies should allow your business to do more work, faster and with less friction. However, leaders have realised that the new ways of working demanded by cloud platforms deliver the greatest agility benefits.

Existing processes are not optimised for the cloud, so leaders will evolve their operating model accordingly. Service operations will be adjusted to become more proactive. Platform operations are restructured to develop new enterprise standards and policies and to leverage cloud-native tools. Pipeline operations have a clearly defined process for building, deploying and retiring containers – preferably using automation tools to accelerate the continuous integration and delivery pipeline.

4. Invest in your people

One of the biggest barriers to cloud success is skills, particularly as there is currently a global shortage. Leaders will invest heavily in attracting and retaining the brightest talent. They will also spend to upskill their existing workforce, helping to plug gaps in knowledge and experience so they can continue driving their cloud strategy forwards.

The staffing strategy looks beyond current requirements too, developing a pipeline of talent to support succession planning and reward the highest performers. They can also call upon their partners to provide additional guidance and advice sand to impart knowledge to the in-house team.

Avoiding common cloud pitfalls is harder than it looks. However, these four concepts are all used by cloud leaders to help them realise the maximum return on their investments. To learn more about successful enterprise cloud adoption, please give us a call

Cloud Based Solutions West Midlands

Enterprise Cloud Adoption Part I – Measuring Cloud Maturity

With such high levels of cloud adoption, it is inconceivable that any enterprise-class organisation is not using at least some cloud services. However, not all cloud deployments are equal and some organisations are realising more value from their investments than others.

HPE has developed a five-point scale to help businesses understand the maturity of their cloud deployments:

1. Ad-hoc: Cloud adoption remains fragmented and isolated without any form of unifying strategy.

2. Adapting: There is some evidence that a business is trying to bring their isolated cloud instances together.

3. Cloud-enabled: The company has an effective cloud operating model in place. Level 3 should be the minimum starting goal of every enterprise.

4. Optimised: Cloud usage is well-established and the business is optimising deployments to achieve greater value.

5. Maximised value: The organization has achieved best practice cloud operating model capability, as evaluated against peers and industry benchmarks.

The reality is that most organisations still have a lot of work to do before they will reach level 5.

What is preventing enterprises from achieving maturity?

HP’s maturity assessment matrix assesses eight domains: strategy and governance, security, operations, DevOps, data, applications, innovation and people. Any organisation reaching maturity level 3 will have achieved a good score across the majority of the domains, but one always seems to lag – people.

The problem with people

Strangely, most organisations know they have a people problem – but are unsure how to solve it. This is because there are several factors in play: change is often slow because embedded cultural factors work against digital transformation programs for instance. In other cases, senior management may not invest all of the time and resources required to enact lasting cultural and workforce change.

It’s also highly likely that the ongoing cloud skills shortage is playing a significant role in these problems too. Without domain-specific knowledge and experience, it is even harder to define strategies and change cultures.

A knock-on effect

A low score in the people domain has a disproportionate effect on cloud maturity. Without a solid basis in strategy, security operations and people, other domains – namely applications, innovation and data – will also suffer.

To improve cloud maturity (and maximise the value of investments) requires a structured approach to understanding your current capabilities. Indeed, it is only by understanding the factors that are hindering progress that you will be able to make progress and adopt the relevant best practices for greater success.

Again, HPE has some useful suggestions to help you get started:

Align around a common language – cut through the confusion and internal barriers by building an organisation-wide framework to communicate priorities, align around goals, and exchange ideas.

Benchmark against best practice – You don’t always have to blaze a trail initially – take time to benchmark your capabilities against your industry’s leaders.

Measure progress – Cloud technologies and best practices are constantly evolving, so you need a way to measure progress towards attainment – and the shifting goalposts.

Identify your blind spots – Be careful that your transformation initiatives are scoped according to the cloud industry, not the knowledge of your planners. If your people don’t know what they don’t know, your strategy will be unbalanced, delivering less than optimal results.

Cloud adoption is essential to your IT strategy, but it needs to be implemented correctly to achieve your goals and contain costs. To learn more about how your enterprise can build a framework that delivers true transformation, please get in touch.

Cloud Based Solutions Birmingham

Why hyperscale cloud breaks your budget (and what to do about it)

For many years, hyperscale cloud has promised to help businesses slash their IT operating costs. However, the reality is often very different – most find that their costs actually increase.

Your business needs the flexibility and scalability of the cloud to meet its strategic computing objectives. So, what can you do if hyperscalers cost more every time?

3 reasons hyperscalers always cost you more

Research by Gartner found that even three years after adoption, hyperscale cloud had a significantly negative ROI of -171%. According to their calculations, it takes seven years to generate a positive ROI – far too long for many small and medium sized organisations looking to create meaningful savings now.

Here’s why everything costs so much when hosting VMs in the cloud:

1. Over-specification

Despite the pay-as-you-use promises of hyperscalers when it comes to virtual machines and applications you must specify your virtual hardware requirements. But this causes problems.

First, resources are typically purchased in batches that rarely match your requirements; you must purchase eight virtual CPUs when your applications only require six for instance. Second, it is extremely unlikely your applications will ever reach these resource limits under normal conditions. This means that you invariably end up paying for resources you are not using.

2. Transaction costs

The flip side of pay-as-you-use computing is that you do pay for everything. Take object storage. You already know that you pay a price per gigabyte of data stored – but you are then charged transaction fees for every PUT, GET and LIST operation performed on your data plus a fee for bandwidth usage.

It is not easy to quantify the number of transactions up front, which is why many subscribers pay 40-60% more for their cloud storage than anticipated.

3. Essential add-ons

Replicating your on-premise environment is quite straightforward. However, many of the essential components you rely on are treated as chargeable extras. Things like network connectivity, security, monitoring and disaster recovery.

Again, these essential add-ons quickly increase cloud operating costs far beyond initial expectations.

What is the solution?

Hyperscalers will point out that many of these costs can be contained through proper re-engineering and optimisation. However, the necessary skills and experience are rare (and expensive), leaving most unable to make the required changes. This means that return on investment will remain a long game for most.

The alternative is to choose a leaner, more affordable cloud partner that employs a much fairer pricing model. Our solutions include network connectivity, backup/DR, monitoring, our security suite, and 24x7x365 support as standard. Which dramatically reduces cloud costs and shortens the time to ROI.

Best of all, these benefits are available without significantly re-engineering your systems and processes.

To learn more about avoiding the hyperscale cloud trap – and how WTL can help you build a cloud strategy that does deliver on expectations – please get in touch.

Network Management Solutions West Midlands

Making the business case for disaster recovery

Because of the relative rarity of a significant system outage, many SMEs have deliberately underinvested in their data protection provisions. Backup allows them to recover almost all of their systems and data (eventually), so why invest in a true disaster recovery solution?

Although most see this as a calculated risk, the impact of an outage can be devastating for a data-driven business. Here’s what you need to consider before trying to justify not investing in disaster recovery tools.

Reducing RPO windows

It is possible to recover most of your data from a traditional backup but:

  • The process is typically quite slow
  • Data changes significantly between backups – how much information can you afford to lose in that window?

It is entirely possible that relying on backups could cost your business 22 hours or more lost productivity.

A disaster recovery platform is specifically designed to reduce the recovery point objective (RPO – the amount of data your business can ‘afford’ to lose) to minutes or seconds. Cloud-based DR systems also allow you to create service tiers so that you can prioritise what is protected, the performance of the underlying infrastructure and how it is brought online in an emergency. This granular control ensures you can balance availability, performance and cost to meet your strategic recovery goals.

Affordable resilience

Modern disaster recovery platforms use the cloud to provide massive scalability without upfront hardware investment. You simply pay for the storage you use. There is no longer any need to invest in co-located data centres, duplicate hardware set-ups, licensing or the resources required to administer them.

Using cloud-based services allows you to avoid significant up-front capital investment – immediately answering one of the main arguments against deploying DR. It also ensures that your data is fully recoverable from anywhere in the world.

Built for the cloud

Backup and recovery tools are normally designed for use with on-premise systems. This becomes a serious shortcoming as your business adopts more cloud-based services.

DR tools are increasingly cloud-native, meaning that they can capture snapshots of data stored in hosted systems. Importantly, they can also restore data to other cloud platforms, offering a useful alternative if your on-premise data centre is out-of-action.

Improve your testing capabilities

Disaster recovery tools create a complete copy of your operating environment that is ready to be recovered at any moment. However, you can also use these DR copies for advanced testing and planning.

Say you want to assess the potential risks associated with a new software update. Rather than deploying into your live environment, you can use a DR copy. All of your tests are completely accurate and reliable because the copied system is identical to your production environment. Tests can be completed without any risk to operations.

To learn more about why your business can’t afford to not invest in disaster recovery tools – and what you stand to gain – please get in touch.

Cloud Transition

9 Tips For A Smooth Cloud Transition

The cloud is undoubtedly a disruptive force within IT. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for months of operational disruption during your cloud transition.

Here are nine proven tips for making the process of moving to the cloud smoother.

1. Plan for hybrid operations

Despite offering superior flexibility and scalability, not all workloads belong in the cloud. For this reason, you should be planning for a hybrid cloud future, where some applications and data sets are retained in-house, while others are migrated off-site.

For best results, you will want your deployment to make hybrid operations as seamless as possible.

2.  Inventory what you already have

Understanding the systems you currently have in place – and their importance to the business – is a crucial aspect of migration planning. This assessment allows you to prioritise which applications to move first – and those which can be retired entirely.

Do not underestimate the importance of retiring underused or unnecessary applications – you will still pay for the cloud resources they consume. Your cloud partner may be able to assist with the discovery and inventory process.

3. Use smart migration tools

Disaster Recovery (DR) tools are typically used for ensuring operations can continue in the event of a localised outage.  However, the same technologies can also be used to streamline the cloud migration process, accurately and reliably replicating data sets to your hosted platform of choice without affecting ‘live’ operations.

4. Choose a native VMware cloud platform

If your business uses VMware for server virtualisation, it makes sense to choose a partner who offers a native VMware cloud environment. Selecting the same underlying technology will help to simplify and accelerate the migration of your workloads and templates.

You will also find ongoing management and maintenance much easier because the tools and techniques are familiar.

5. Identify a future for your legacy physical workloads

Legacy systems continue to be a drag on IT budgets because of their complexity and management overheads. Migration to the cloud offers an opportunity to virtualise these legacy systems, bringing them into line with your more up-to-date applications. Wherever possible, this is the preferred option moving forwards.

If virtualisation is not an option (some licenses prohibit it for instance), you should speak to your provider about the potential for provisioning physical systems in the cloud. This will involve making some difficult choices as the cost and complexity of migrating physical systems can be relatively high.

6. Use data seeding for massive data sets

Because of the time required to transfer enormous data sets over the internet, it may be advisable to ‘seed’ your migration first. Shipping physical drives to the cloud data centre is much faster and reliable, allowing you to jumpstart the migration process. You can then sync updated information over the internet as normal.

7. Test your bandwidth capacity

Hosting systems in the cloud places an even heavier burden on your internet connection. Work with your cloud provider to assess current bandwidth and whether it is sufficient to handle an increase in traffic. Where there is a predicted shortfall, you will need to arrange an upgrade.

8. Train IT staff to use new cloud management tools

Managing the cloud platform will be different to your current on-premise setup. Once you have selected a partner and platform, ensure your IT team are fully trained to use the new tools to manage your cloud environment.

And don’t forget to assess support provisions, our team needs to be sure they have a backup if something goes wrong – or need guidance and assistance.

9. Refine your future strategy

Cloud migration is not a one-time, big-bang project but an ongoing process of continual refinement and improvement. Working with your cloud provider, map out an effective migration plan that aligns with your strategic goals. They can also advise on how to re-architect systems to better contain costs and improve efficiency.

Get your cloud migration underway today

To learn more about successful cloud migrations and how WTL can help your business with a successful cloud transition, please get in touch.