Simplifying Cloud deployment

Simplifying Cloud deployment

What you want to find is a Cloud provider that offers a high touch engagement process from beginning to end to smooth the transition

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Moving enterprise applications to the cloud can be a complex and daunting task. What you want to find is a cloud provider that offers a high touch engagement process from beginning to end to smooth the transition.

A high touch process ensures you can engage with various members of the deployment team through the three stages of the on-boarding process, which consists of: readiness assessment; development of a migration, transition or transformation plan; and optimization for cost and efficiency.

We'll take a deeper dive on each.

RESEARCH: Network World's Enterprise Cloud Services archive

Readiness assessment

Like most new technologies, cloud computing can require significant changes in business processes, application architectures, technology infrastructure, and operating models that must be properly understood. Having a well thought-out strategy can mean the difference between success and failure. The first step to understanding these challenges is the readiness assessment. [Also see: "How to get started with cloud computing"]

The purpose of the readiness assessment is for customers to:

1. Determine the scope of what needs to be done to ensure a successful transition.

2. Determine whether they can take a "do it yourself" approach or need/want a fully managed application service.

Prior to any cloud or hosting engagement, cloud service providers with a high touch approach will have a team of personnel scope the project. The team should include an engagement manager, representatives from sales, solutions architects, an executive sponsor and representatives from product management and service delivery. Product management and operations help ensure the cloud service is supportable and sustainable over the long term. The entire team will help to work through any special SLA requirements or compliance issues during the sales process.

As part of a high touch enterprise approach, each of these disciplines remains involved throughout the entire project to ensure the implementation is set up correctly, that it is secure and compliant, and that the client gets what they need, when they need it.

The complete assessment includes:

• Technical analysis: IT infrastructure and applications are reviewed to identify services best suited to the cloud. The assessment covers key scalability and architectural issues, including modular design; server and application processes; and database transactions and I/O. Critical application interfaces such as Web services also need to be assessed to determine the optimal cloud migration path.

• Economic analysis: Economic considerations play a major role in the decision to migrate to the cloud. Customers need to build comprehensive ROI and TCO models that provide economic justification for cloud migration.

• Business and application analysis: This analysis determines whether customers need to re-engineer business processes to leverage the cloud and whether their application needs to comply with specific regulations, such as PCI, HIPAA and GLBA.

Developing a migration, transition or transformation plan

Once the customer's level of readiness is understood, a plan is developed that includes the nuts and bolts of on-boarding and lifecycle management. This is where choosing the right partner can really make a difference. The best partners have the following capabilities:

• A tried and true migration methodology.

• Experience in migrating infrastructure and applications to the cloud.

• Ability to address a range of requirements, including physical to virtual migrations, project management and on-boarding.

• Can implement a hybrid cloud model if customers want to migrate some, but not all, of their IT infrastructure and services to the cloud.

• Ability to customize services to meet unique needs.

The plan is essentially a roadmap that defines what the customer can expect and when it will be delivered. It includes a detailed custom network design, any type of phased-in implementation, escalation procedures, security and compliance considerations, SLA options, training, reporting, a timeline, as well as when and how the team will turn over the keys once the implementation is complete.

There are three types of roadmaps that can be developed, depending on the client's needs:

• Migration plan -- The discrete set of tasks that are developed to implement customer environments to cloud services.

• Transition plan -- A plan that focuses on the impact for the customer, which includes the processes, policies and adjustments needed to move them from their current state to a new state. Some examples included in the plan are service transition, change management, service asset and configuration management, release and deployment management, service validation and testing, evaluation, and knowledge management.

• Transformation plan -- A plan that includes the change of technologies, processes and policies to transform the organization. This plan utilizes technology to spearhead the vision, resolve, business case governance, accountability, workable approach and execution model, capacity planning and the ability to implement and operate.

The engagement manager and the implementation manager play critical roles during this phase. The dedicated engagement manager should work directly with the customer and harness the service provider's internal resources as issues arise, while the implementation manager manages the day-to-day operational implementation. The customer should have multiple points of contact beyond the engagement manager, including access to the account manager, solution architects, sales, executive sponsor, or operations from the readiness assessment.

Daily, weekly and monthly updates should be provided on how the migration is progressing.

At the conclusion of this phase, approximately 98% of the project is complete. It is during the optimization phase where the remaining 2% of the project is fine-tuned.

Optimization for cost and efficiency

With a cloud delivery platform, monthly charges are based on actual compute resources used, therefore it is critical that cloud-enabled applications run efficiently. Periodic performance tuning and load testing are necessary to optimize applications.

Reporting to the engagement manager, a service delivery manager and his team should prepare a weekly report that identifies operating trends and specific incidents. The team should review these issues on a weekly call with the customer and develop additional operating procedures in response to the trends and incidents.

For example, a customer's service on a server goes down on Tuesday at 2 a.m. The immediate problem is handled by the incident management process. Through the post mortem process, the service delivery team notices that it has happened every Tuesday at 2 a.m. for the past several weeks, making it possible for the team to develop additional standard procedure that mitigates the risk.

On a monthly basis, the service delivery team should take a more holistic approach, looking at usage patterns to determine how best to utilize the current resources.

A number of optimization options should be evaluated, including:

• Consolidating underutilized resources.

• Optimization based on time of day usage.

• Optimization based on seasonal demand.

• Optimization based on lifecycle usage variations.

The teams should meet quarterly and look forward at initiatives for the coming quarter and revisit the business plan. That will enable the teams to determine the ongoing readiness to scale and support the upcoming initiatives.

Given the complexity of the endeavor, enterprises need to select a cloud vendor that will partner with them through the entire on-boarding process. The key to a successful, secure and compliant implementation is a high touch engagement process from beginning to end.

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