When you are shifting to a Cloud-sourced infrastructure model, there are several things you need to consider and do in preparation:
Start with an internal stakeholder assessment and achieve buy-in on the cloud model. Avoid kicking tires until you’ve made sure all key stakeholders are bought into the strategy by getting alignment between the technical, financial, decision makers on the purchasing model and its high level benefits. Be sure to discuss the differences in making a CAPEX versus OPEX purchase. Ensure that all stakeholders have shared goals and plan get to this target.
Get an accurate measurement of the resources that will be used in the cloud. What are your CPU, memory and disk requirements? There are a variety of ways to get these metrics, but it’s important to understand the cost-saving benefit you will see when you shift from using fixed resources (that you have to estimate in advance) to a variable consumption model (that can be adjusted as needed).
Perform a growth assessment on everything you will now be buying on a consumption basis. You should project the growth of your bill three to five years out, based on per unit cost. When you make this decision, you need to be sure to set the expectations for your finance team based on this assessment, so there aren’t any surprises a few years down the road.
Perform an assessment of what is and what is not cloud-ready before the move. Can your existing applications be ported over easily or will they require changes, upgrades, etc? Are there any licensing implications to moving to a hosted infrastructure? If not, what do you need to do to get them cloud-ready?
Determine what your strategy and goals are with the cloud. How does that fit with what you think you can move? Ensure you are selecting the right type of cloud for your needs. Each “Cloud” is different and many were built for different use cases and target markets. There are three main types of Cloud: private (dedicated equipment for a single customer); public cloud (multiple customers share resources); and virtual private cloud (the best of both worlds. Additionally, you can have hybrid solution and use private and public for what they are each good for.
Once you have determined the right type of cloud for your organization, interview cloud vendors with offerings that suit your requirements and narrow down to a final vendor. Don’t be afraid to dismiss vendors who are not aligned with your goals.
Build realistic expectations around your migration strategy; determine staffing, bandwidth, storage and other resources that you need to facilitate the migration to the new cloud platform. Assess your current staff to determine whether or not you can do this in-house, and to plan for maintenance while the migration is in progress. Recruit a third party for any areas where you feel there may be gaps.
Depending on the cloud provider you choose, determine the depth of training required and plan for it accordingly.
Contingency planning: anyone on the IT side is remiss if they don’t have a rollback plan ready if needed. This should be an integral part of any IT migration.
Ensure that you accurately assess your back up and DR strategy and the associated costs. Don’t assume that just because you have moved to the cloud, you will magically have this taken care of. This needs to be explored and covered with your vendor, especially with consideration of your expectations around Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO).