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Layman's Guide On Embarking Cloud Journey

DhavalMankad, Vice President - IT, Havmor Ice Cream Private Limited

Dhaval is a highly accomplished professional with rich & extensive experience of close to three decades across Strategic Planning and IT Governance.

Cloud Computing, The Inevitable
Cloud adoption has been booming for the last couple of years and the current Covid-19 situation has just accelerated this pace of cloud adoption. Many organizations have realized the benefits of cloud in the current situation and this is very relevant as there were situations where people were not able to access their premises. Let us look at a few points which are driving cloud adoption.

In today’s fast-changing competitive business world, the adoption of cloud is not a choice but a need of the hour. The CIO & IT leadership role has changed, and it’s no more about just technology management, but more about business management. There is a growing focus on managing and driving business transformation than the Technology, as the organizations are focusing to remain asset light, moving from Capex to Opex and need a scalable, agile, secure and high performing computing environment.

IT Functioning & Organizational Benefits
The cloud adoption helps IT to become agile and there are no more procurement cycles that need to be followed or longer lead time for deliveries. The cloud offers much needed advantages like faster go to market strategy & faster implementation. With the changing role of IT in business houses, cloud provides IT team / leadership a relief from managing day to day technology needs and mundane tasks of backups, upgrades, monitoring etc. and give them more time to be with the business. In addition, IT teams can transit from People centric to process centric management, and with services from managed service providers, organizations can leverage the advantage of process driven IT landscape management. Easier upgrade, pay per use models, leaner IT teams and easier backups and disaster recovery are other benefits.

Cloud & Cost
Well, it depends upon how we look at it. Ultimately, we need to see the value outcome of such adoption rather than pure comparison. Never look at cloud by comparing cost of instance vs physical hardware cost, as it will always look costly. Instead, you need to consider the cost of in-house manpower, cooling, power consumption, rack cost, space rental and such parameters. If you look at the areas of savings, it includes the cost of upgrades, licenses, AMCs, Cost of provisioning DR,

backup infrastructure cost, off-site backup arrangement cost, media cost, and an additional cost if you were to manage 24x7 operations. All these parameters coupled with a few intangible benefits must be taken into consideration, which could include time spent in the procurement process, internal reviews, loss of competitiveness on account of delays or failure of on-premise hardware, manpower savings etc.

Monitoring cloud cost on a regular interval is the key. If you are running instances for more than 12 hours, it is good to be considered a reserved instance. Since all public cloud service providers continuously innovate and keep releasing new and powerful instances periodically, you can try moving to such instances. Consider moving to AMD instances for Test/Quality and Development environments. In addition, most vendors provide options to choose different types like reserved for one/three year with different payment options which are very beneficial. On the other hand, review storage usage, backups, virtual tunnel, IP address, snapshots and such other cloud billing line items periodically to control cost leakage. If you are using legacy applications on Cloud as IaaS, do not just expand resources since application demands, but force vendors to revalidate code and enhance performance. You can also explore micro services and cloud native developments. You need to be also choosy and selective in terms of database selection, which makes a huge difference in cost for different database editions, especially for paid databases.

The Important Aspect Is How Well One Remains Updated And Protected

The Pitfalls of Cloud
Is there Lock in? – Yes, if one opts for a reserved or dedicated instance, then one must stick to duration or pay for balance period in case of exit. Can I scale with a reserved instance? – Most cloud players provide convertible instances where if one wants to go for higher configuration, it is possible. However, one with a dedicated instance, you cannot cancel or lower configuration. You also need to get different service management agreements from Managed Service providers validated. One needs to get into specifics of agreement, SLA, compliance etc., depending on the need of the organization, industry segment and so on.

The Security
Security concerns are everywhere, be it on-premise data center or cloud. The important aspect is how well one remains updated and protected. Along with cloud proliferation, and associated cloud ecosystem, the marketplace has evolved and there are numerous monitoring and security solutions available. Additionally, one needs to secure a root account or master account for cloud, authorizations & IP based port-based security options are required to be configured well. In fact, all cloud players provide different ways to connect using a secure VPN. Above all, today, all cloud service providers – public or private – are complied with a host of regulations including GDPR. One needs to know that Cloud instance does not mean security; it is a joint responsibility to be taken with a service provider.

Capitalize the first letter of each word
As we always say, start small. Consider starting with moving non-critical business applications or moving Test / Development environments to cloud. Another good way to begin adopting cloud is to start launching new applications, while large scale hardware upgrade is another trigger to consider cloud. But first, evaluate the cloud through various promotional offers where the cloud provider offers free usage or limited period free Proof of concepts.

Final take:
Cloud adoption – public or private – being on the rise does not mean that On-premise data centers will go away. The duo is going to co-exist and get further mature & that is where IT leaders are going for Hybrid or multi-cloud strategy. Industry players are also working together, and they are trying to see how the overall ecosystem can be more robust and can have a win-win for all. We are surely at an interesting juncture and let us see how things unfold in the post-Covid-19 era.

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