Cloud Computing

Peter Duffy (Global) - IT Analytics: Clearing you for Launch into the Cloud

Migrating to the cloud has become the next logical step in the IT evolution for organizations that want to take advantage of on-demand, scalable computing and attractive cost profiles. While the benefits of cloud computing are well documented, there are challenges too, including security concerns, the time and resources it takes to make the transition and the management of capacity and performance levels.

With the use of IT analytics, organizations can leverage real data to better plan, migrate and successfully realize their cloud initiatives. IT analytics provide a scientific basis to consider things like cost, performance and risk to ensure a cloud initiative is successful. Without analytical insight, firms are flying blind into the cloud and putting themselves at risk.

Unlike rudimentary approaches to cloud planning and migration, IT analytics provides the necessary multi-dimensional analysis of key considerations (cost, performance, risk and impact) that are required to ensure initiatives successfully realize their objectives. By capturing and combining data from across the enterprise, IT analytics establishes a “big picture” of the current IT environment, enabling cloud scenarios to be effectively compared and evaluated. By using IT analytics to guide their decision making, CIOs can rest assured that their chosen cloud initiatives deliver against SLAs, achieve ROI goals and do not expose the business to undue risk.

The following five steps, using IT analytics as a framework, provides a pragmatic way of approaching cloud initiatives.

1. Baseline the Current Environment

To gain a clear understanding of which IT services offer the most value to the business from cloud implementation, it is vital to understand how existing IT services are consumed. To do this accurately, IT analytics collects infrastructure utilization metrics and application log files to determine a baseline of how current services are performing and what their demand/capacity profiles look like. The assessment provides quantifiable findings to accurately scope cloud requirements and to base investment justification.

2. Factor in Future Needs with Scenario Modeling

For cloud migrations to be successful, future business requirements must be addressed as part of the planning process. How will the cloud impact cost if business demand grows by 20 percent in two years? What are the connections between IT services and how will migrating some to the cloud impact the IT infrastructure? Scenario modeling provides precise answers to “what-if” questions like these. By using scenario modeling, IT organizations can safely predict the outcome of future change and how it will impact the cloud supplier/option under consideration.

3. Consider Ongoing Management

If externally managed cloud services are being considered, it is crucial to retain governance and visibility of them in house. This helps to ensure that there is an independent, unbiased way of monitoring the quality of the service and that SLAs are being met. Under-performing public cloud services could be devastatingly detrimental to a business by damaging brand reputation and customer confidence. Using the baseline as a monitoring gauge, cloud performance can be independently tracked in house. By not retaining such visibility internally, IT organizations risk losing control and will find it difficult to mitigate risk from performance or availability issues. By using IT analytics to maintain visibility of cloud services independently, teams can ensure below-par performance issues are proactively tracked and resolved.

4. Compare Cloud Options through Benchmarking

Now armed with a clear understanding of which IT services offer the best fit for cloud, proceeding to evaluations of cloud technology (for private implementations) or suppliers (for public/hybrid options) can begin. While there are many considerations to take into account, the use of IT analytics can play a key role in this part of the decision-making process. By benchmarking the various offerings and associated costs of each cloud option/supplier against the baseline, IT analytics provides precise like-for-like comparisons, indicating what option provides the most appropriate fit against key performance, risk and cost/ROI requirements. By using these findings as part of a robust procurement process, CIOs can deliver strong assurances to the board around the cloud selection process and present quantifiable evidence on why particular suppliers/options have been selected.

5. Evaluate Success

When supplier/technology options have been agreed upon and implementation is underway, the baseline analysis can then be repeated to quantify the actual working outcomes of the new cloud environment. This enables teams to understand whether the migration is meeting service-quality requirements and on track to meet ROI objectives. If areas require attention, this stage will uncover what further action is needed. Unlike basic methods of tracking such progress, IT analytics’ ability to independently quantify the results and their impact on the business is powerful for negotiating improvements from suppliers and demonstrating value to the board.

While the cloud offers many benefits, without careful consideration to the long term, a clear understanding into business/application consumption and expected growth profiles, these benefits can be put at risk. By using IT analytics to baseline the existing IT environment and scenario model the vast array of “what ifs,” CIOs can gain precise answers to ensure they chose the right cloud service providers and technology options – maximizing return on IT spend and delivering business value.

By Peter Duffy, CTO, Sumerian


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