Director, Cloud Solutions
  • Cloud
  • Data Center
  • Services and Consulting
The promise of the cloud is compelling, and more companies are making the leap than ever before. In fact, Gartner predicts the worldwide public cloud services market will grow 16.5 percent in 2016 to total $204 billion.1  Those numbers are not surprising, given the tremendous opportunities made possible by cloud services.

At ePlus, we believe the cloud fundamentally is about transformation. It’s about leveraging innovative technology, best-of-breed services, and new delivery models to change the way our businesses operate and serve our customers in order to lower costs, to improve products and services, to enhance the customer experience, and to increase market share.

But transformation is not just about technology—and neither is the cloud. It’s about combining people, processes, and technology to create positive change. Too often, the temptation is to lead with a technology solution, but transformation requires a broader view. For a successful cloud deployment to occur, organizations must consider how the technology is implemented, supported, optimized, and updated on an ongoing basis.

It’s easy to be drawn toward cloud technology by the potential advantages it offers. But succeeding in the cloud is not simple. And it begins with three important steps.

Step 1: Determine the benefits

Before making the leap to the cloud, organizations first must determine the benefits. Does a cloud solution make sense? What benefits will it deliver to the organization? Is there sound justification for it? What is the expected Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)?

While the benefits touted by some cloud solutions are very appealing, it doesn’t mean the solution will deliver the same benefits for every organization or for all applications. In some cases, the cloud may not be the best option for a specific workload or application. It depends on a host of factors, including the application itself, the nature of the workload, the data, and industry regulations or business requirements. To make the determination, every company needs a systematic approach for evaluating the viability of the cloud in light of their own specific workloads, applications, and requirements—before charging forward and investing a lot of time and money.

Step 2: Find the right fit

Once a workload or application is identified as a good candidate for the cloud, the next step is to find the best cloud option for your organization. This may seem like the obvious next move to make. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy one. Given the vast number of options in the marketplace to choose from, selecting the right fit can feel like a daunting task.

Take the time to establish your selection criteria up front. Make sure to consider all factors important to your business, including ease of integration, security, compliance, vendor stability, post-sales services available, and ongoing support requirements among them. And evaluate each cloud option carefully to determine the best solution for you.

Step 3: Prepare for the change

Over years of witnessing cloud decisions based on technology alone, I’ve found that this step is often overlooked at first—or at least, underestimated. Cloud technology is alluring, and it’s easy to be captivated by it with little regard for the other organizational changes that will be needed for the deployment to succeed. And that can be a costly and frustrating mistake. Because operating in the cloud versus managing a traditional on-premise system is dramatically different, and organizations must be prepared for the change.

First, roles and responsibilities are different in the cloud and must be understood. Many of the routine tasks that were once performed by in-house staff—such as provisioning compute resources, performing system backups, and other administrative functions—are now the responsibility of the cloud service provider. As a result, formal change management procedures and effective communication with your cloud provider are vitally important. 

Second, in the cloud world, more post-sales services need to be purchased in order for the deployment to succeed. Simply acquiring the service without clear plans in place for how it will be managed ongoing ultimately leads to dissatisfaction. Post-sales services should include deployment plans, consumption plans, support services, major incident response plans, and cloud services dependency mapping. 

In the cloud world, greater levels of support, advisory, and proactive services are needed to achieve successful, adopted solutions.   Simply acquiring the implementation services without adoption and consumption plans can lead to dissatisfaction or poorly adopted solutions.  In addition, comprehensive support plans and services dramatically reduce major incidents or downtown.  Post-sales services should include advisory deployment plans, consumption plans, support services, proactive services, major incident response plans, and dependency maps.   

What’s next?

Succeeding in the cloud requires more than just technology. It demands careful planning, preparation, and a balanced focus on people, processes, and technology.

In the next article in my Cloud First Strategy series, I’ll discuss more about the factors to consider before moving an application or workload to the cloud and how to determine the benefits of doing so.

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