Transition​ing to cloud isn't just about IT—it's about business

Used with permission from Hewlett Packard Community
Guest post by Arthur Cole

There are many technical factors to consider when embarking on the transition to cloud, but there are also an untold number of business issues that can prove just as beneficial, or disastrous, to the project.
A cloud that doesn't further business objectives is merely another hole in which to throw scarce IT dollars—organizations that don't consider the business implications of their new deployment are setting themselves up for failure. The cloud imparts a significant change in the way processes are developed and managed, and the way people communicate and collaborate. It also affects the very relationships between executive management and line of business workers, and increasingly, those on the factory floor. Let's not forget business partners, channel providers, and even customers. It's a game-changer across the board. To remain competitive with agile enterprises operating like startups, you will need the right mix of private/public cloud and traditional IT.

The unmatched cloud
The business value proposition of the cloud can't be overstated. It's the difference between shipping a product on a jumbo jet vs. an ox cart. Particularly in areas of supply chain and product life cycle management, a hybrid model that combines public/private cloud and traditional IT provides levels of flexibility and scalability that traditional data center can never hope to match. This is why many startups are placing all but the most critical data on the cloud—the better to maintain flexibility and scalability as supply chains extend across regional, national, and ultimately global footprints. What starts as a less costly way to build infrastructure leads to an even more valuable ability to invent and reinvent the data environment as business conditions change.
Private cloud, says Ken Won, director of cloud solutions marketing at HPE, is best for workloads with specific performance, security and compliance concerns, while public cloud is "ideal for temporary workloads or workloads that have large variances in demand." This is why it's important to read the fine print on the contract you sign, says John. D. Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA, and chairman of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network (NEHEN). Integration is a perennial challenge in both private and hybrid clouds, even when united under a common framework like OpenStack, and there are numerous layers within every cloud that must be carefully coordinated to create a stable yet highly dynamic and scalable data environment. Today's cloud management platforms provide just the right mix by giving enterprises access to services on a public cloud, while at the same time providing access to services on a private cloud and to traditional IT for legacy applications.
Preparing for—and managing—cloud environments
Many organizations also fail to recognize that the cloud represents an entirely new way of working, whether it's application development, database management, back-office support, or transaction processing. With a proper training program and governance regime in place, the transition to cloud will go more smoothly, both for early adopters and those who cling to the old way of doing things. Your transition starts with developing a cloud strategy that works best for the unique workloads in your enterprise. According to Won, to determine your right mix of public, private, and traditional IT, you should consider the following criteria:
  • Cost to implement/operate
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Geo-political considerations
  • Performance requirements
  • Security and privacy requirements
  • Scalability and reliability
  • Corporate IT standards
  • Contractual terms and agreements

The cloud is more than just a collection of distributed, virtual compute and storage resources. It represents a dramatic change to the enterprise culture, affecting everything from work flows and job functions to business models and even entire markets and industries. The technology behind the cloud is impressive, but it helps to go in with a healthy respect for all the non-technical risks and opportunities the cloud brings to the table. Take a few minutes to see how your cloud strategy compares to your peers with this simple-to-use app.