07 Apr 2014

Welcome to the cloud revolution

The cloud revolution is here – and it’s only going to accelerate according to Isabel Boniface, the Small and Medium Business Marketing Lead for Microsoft Australia.

“The progression will speed up even more as cloud-delivered IT matures and becomes a proven and accepted method of consuming software services. Businesses are getting more comfortable with putting their data in data centres that are not owned by them,” says Boniface.

“We will see cloud acceptance going beyond double-digit growth to exponential growth,” she adds. “This is really driven by access to very mature and sophisticated technology which has been too expensive for small businesses. They can now get it for the cost of a cup of coffee per month.”

Will businesses move everything to external service providers? Or is there a right way to choose what to move to the cloud and what to keep inside your own walls?

“There isn’t a specific template that we should all be following. Every company has a different set of challenges, and for every company there’s a different solution,” says Boniface.

Like all successful IT projects, the process starts with knowing the business requirements.

“Once you’ve decided what problem you need to solve, you can decide how you want to solve that problem and then how you’re going to deliver that solution.” As far as the solution goes, Boniface says that there’s no need to make an ‘all or nothing’ move.

“In the majority of cases, it will be a hybrid solution. Companies will retain some servers on their premises because they need to deliver the return on investment for the hardware, or they might need it to store large files or sensitive workloads. In other cases, they might decide to make use of the cloud in either a hosted environment or public cloud to get the lower cost of delivery or lower cost of management and support.”

Boniface cited the example of the broadcaster SBS. The team there evaluated all of the workloads that they needed to deliver.

“They made the decision to go with a hybrid scenario and moved their email to the public cloud, which was previously sucking massive man-hours from IT support. However, they felt more comfortable moving their SharePoint implementation to a hosted cloud provider.”

The aim is to choose the delivery method that best suits each workload. “Some of our customers who are highly cautious are nervous about where their data is and what controls are in place. They can proceed at the speed they’re comfortable with. They don’t need to worry about being committed to a delivery method that you can’t get out of,” she adds.

So, how does a company maximise its chances of a successful cloud migration? One way is to look at projects that haven’t succeeded. Boniface says that there are some common elements of failed cloud projects. “The problem is that their planning hasn’t been done properly. The company hasn’t worked with a partner with good experience in assessing the current environment and understanding the business needs. They were driven into a delivery method that wasn’t the best fit. It comes down to bad planning in the beginning phases of the project.”

Boniface’s advice is quite straightforward. “Make sure you choose a partner that has a proven track record and is neutral around the delivery method. If a partner comes in and dictates a delivery method then they’re probably not the right partner for you”.

Five steps to cloud success

  1. Find a partner who is solution agnostic. If someone comes in “knowing” the answers before they ask you the right questions, then they probably don’t really know.
  2. Review each workload and evaluate its suitability for public or private cloud, or on-premises operation.
  3. Don’t commit to an all-or-nothing strategy. While a cloud solution might be best for one of your applications, it might not be best for others.
  4. Understand the risks and challenges. No IT project is without risk – particularly when it comes to migrating important applications.
  5. Migrate services to your preferred solution, as the business is ready. Bring the business along the journey at their pace.