The great comedian Sid Caesar said it best. “The guy who invented the wheel was an idiot. The guy that invented the other three…. he was a genius!”
We must have been channeling our “inner Sid” when we published our recently released white paper, The Case for Cloud, detailing the path to developing a proper cloud strategy. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure wrote the book on utilizing software-defined methodologies to power a proper cloud architecture. We took that prototype, added a few wheels, and put together a model private/hybrid cloud environment to power businesses and healthcare organizations of all sizes.
Last week, we profiled a few leading vendors in the software-defined space. Today, we take a look at what your cloud migration plan should include, minus a reinvented wheel!
Cloud Methodology: 4 Core Phases
When developing a comprehensive cloud strategy to safely and effectively leverage these new platforms and capabilities, taking stock of internal resources and organizational design is paramount. The classic mantra of “People, Process, and Technology” fully applies to this cloud strategy and is an essential first step in the transformational process.
A solid cloud methodology includes four core phases:
- Organizational Readiness Assessment
- Staff competencies
- Organization structure
- Cultural considerations
- Architecture review
- Complete inventory of all storage, network, computing components
- Assessment of monitoring and management capabilities
- Cloud computing planning
- Cloud transformation
- Implementation of migration plans
- Identify early successes and value capture
We focus on several critical success factors regarding the planning and execution of the transformational process. These are not listed in order or priority and are prevalent throughout the engagement process.
- Cloud transition can fit into current OPEX and CAPEX budgets
- Organization modeling is critical for effective collaboration
- Setting the “Pace of Change” to match business needs
- Implementation enables strategic IT alignment with the business
- Planning can produce early program ROI
- Results deliver real competitive differentiation
Designing and deploying such a cloud-based infrastructure requires a new approach within IT: the traditional technical disciplines must be broken down in favor of seamless cross-functional teams focused on Architecture, Engineering, and Operations. Traditionally these teams frequently operate in technical silos rather than by a collaborative team approach. Placing these functions into cross functional teams allow for a deeper collaboration across disciplines. Collaboration across these three IT teams enables essential sharing of knowledge of long-term strategies, current implementations and day-to-day operational results.
Public vs. Private Cloud
A logical first step for both people and process may be the establishment of a private cloud within the IT infrastructure. Creating a version of a public cloud infrastructure residing within the organization allows for culture change, the accumulation of technological proficiency, and if done correctly, provides a clear pathway for eventual migration to the public cloud.
On-premises infrastructure is in decline in many places (and for good economic reasons!), but these datacenters will remain in service for many years to come in one capacity or another. That drives a need to optimize the current assets and procedures in the existing datacenter. Building on-premises efficiently and leveraging modern platforms requires the same insights that preparing for cloud requires:
Designing and deploying such a platform requires a new approach within IT: the traditional technical disciplines must be broken down in favor of cross-functional teams focused on Architecture, Engineering, and Operations.
Architecture: Translating a business need into technical requirements requires a unique understanding: one that is analytical, technical, outcome oriented, and forward looking. No matter where or how applications will be run, Architects are critical to defining the future and ensuring fundamental alignment between business needs and the technical platforms that support them. Architects are inherently visionary, naturally curious, and driven by rational analysis. They design the consumable platform of resources with knowledge across every technical discipline with a heavy emphasis on software-defined solutions that allow a broad range of capabilities on standard, ubiquitous hardware. The real value of Architectural resources is realized by IT infrastructure’s ability to adapt to changing business conditions without the need for “forklift” technology investments.
Engineering: While Architects are defining the longer-term design characteristics of the IT infrastructure, Engineers are focused on implementing current solutions that are consistent with the Architectural design. They implement the scalable platforms that provide the business with IT solutions that are agile, scalable, timely, and cost effective to meet current and changing business needs. Implementing new or transitional products into the IT infrastructure in a seamless manner with a keen eye on minimizing any negative business impacts is the ultimate goal of an Engineer.
Operations: As long as there are applications under business control, there will be operators needed to maintain and monitor them. Operations “runs the railroad” ensuring that all of the IT infrastructure components are operating at optimized service levels. Setting critical service level metrics on all IT components is key to successfully monitoring all operational components. Operations resources are focused on identifying any alerts or trends that may represent IT service disruptions resulting in business services impacts.
Collaboration across these three IT teams enables essential sharing of knowledge of long-term strategies, current implementations and day-to-day operational results. All three teams working together ensure optimal alignment with business stakeholders. In addition to optimizing IT/Business results, increased collaboration across teams results in a higher engagement level of all resources leading to lower turn-over of critical staff.
The only “cloud” Sid Caesar ever saw was the one surrounding Imogene Coca’s head, but there’s truth in his words when it comes to developing a cloud strategy for businesses and healthcare organizations. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Model your environment after the guys who did it first, and adapt it to make it work for you.