It’s hard sometimes to remember the days when technology wasn’t king. When we didn’t all walk around with tiny computers in the palm of our hands or the use of GPS technology to give us turn-by-turn directions to navigate us on the road. But for the sake of nostalgia, journey with me to the before times.
I remember vividly the weeks leading up to our annual family road trips as a kid - when my parents would haul out the oversized road atlas and spend hours studying and debating the best routes to take. Which interstate would get us there the fastest? Which exits had the best attractions to stop at along the way? Then, with our literal roadmap in hand, we’d pile in the car and hit the road, confident in the direction we needed to go.
Similarly, before you begin using cloud services, you must plan your journey and make strategic and tactical decisions to align directions and requirements to ensure successful cloud adoption. Planning helps to initiate your organization’s cloud project, design the organization and governance, outline the architecture, secure compliance, document identified risks, and build your business case. The result is a roadmap for the journey that identifies new ways of working across your organization.
What is the Cloud?
Cloud systems allow companies and users to store and access information in a virtual environment, including data, applications and software. This information is stored digitally on off-site servers that can be accessed through the public or private internet, creating connectivity across an organization.
3 types of cloud systems:
- Private cloud
- Public cloud
- Hybrid cloud
What is the Private Cloud?
Private cloud systems offer virtual environments that only be used by a select audience or organization and are hosted on private internal networks. A private cloud environment doesn’t share resources with other organizations or users and can be on-premise or stored at a vendor data center. A private cloud system allows companies to:
- Increase the visibility of security and access
- Offer customization for organizational needs
- Ensure they are meeting compliance needs
How does the public cloud work?
Public cloud systems offer virtual environments that can be used by individuals or companies to extend their IT infrastructure. The public cloud allows companies to host part of their IT infrastructure in third-party virtual servers. The public cloud allows companies to:
- Make applications available anywhere in the world
- Reduce costs that come with purchasing or building software
- Opportunity for scalability
- Flexibility available based on company needs
Hybrid cloud systems and their benefits
Hybrid cloud systems integrate private and public cloud systems into a single infrastructure. Hybrid clouds offer flexibility, allowing organizations to choose the preferred environment for applications or workloads. Hybrid cloud environments pair the control and visibility offered by a private cloud environment with the flexibility and cost reduction of the public cloud.
Embarking on your journey to the cloud
With the goal of helping you reach your final destination of cloud adoption smoothly, we’ve outlined the areas you should focus on to help you create a solid plan. There are four critical aspects to focus on as you begin your cloud transformation journey:
- Adoption and strategy
- Portfolio assessment
- Technology and architecture
1. Adoption and strategy for cloud transformation
The adoption and strategy processes should be conducted in close cooperation with key stakeholders to ensure they understand the alignment with the business drivers. The keys to these processes are:
Business definition: The first step is to get a very clear, high-level management mandate for the scope of the cloud projects. This enables executive management and portfolio leaders to work in sync towards the common goal of digital transformation to the cloud.
Readiness assessment: Conduct a cloud readiness and maturity assessment to determine the gap between the current and the future state. This allows for better planning and change management for a successful journey.
Cloud operating model: The cloud operating model is a high-level representation of how the organization will deliver on its cloud strategy and serves as a blueprint for organizations to effectively deliver capabilities and value through the use of cloud services.
2. Understanding compliance and its challenges
When migrating to the cloud, there are two key compliance challenges that business and IT people are faced with. First is compliance with local and global regulations such as GDPR in Europe and NIST in the U.S., and second is to ensure healthy outsourcing. Conquer these obstacles by tackling:
- Stakeholder management: Compliance in cloud adoption projects is often a complex task as it requires a lot of stakeholder management across the organization. Typical stakeholders are legal and compliance, procurement and vendor management, IT infrastructure, security and operations, business and project owners, and last but not least, the cloud vendors.
- Documentation: Documenting decisions, evaluations, procedures, communications, mitigations, technical setup, cloud principles, and guardrails are of the utmost importance.
3. Conduct a portfolio assessment
Before migrating to any cloud, it is essential to conduct a portfolio assessment to determine the cloud readiness and the migration path for your portfolio of applications. You can perform this assessment by:
- Building application and server inventory: This is best accomplished using a combination of discovery tools, configuration management repositories, and workshop sessions. Using this information, organizations can determine which ones to keep, modernize, or eliminate. It also provides a baseline for the cloud migration roadmap and detailed insight into the technical aspects of each application.
- Assessing technical and business value: Among the deliverables of the application portfolio analysis are recommendation reports that help define your migration plan by assigning a cloud readiness score to each application, application groupings based on their appropriate transformation path, cost estimate, and return on investment evaluation.
4. Technology and architecture for successful cloud infrastructure
When building the cloud infrastructure, it is important to make the right decisions in the early stages of the cloud adoption journey. Find the perfect solution for your cloud needs with:
- Platform evaluation and selection: First, organizations will need to choose their cloud provider(s) with the consideration of private vs. public cloud or a combination of both in a hybrid cloud environment. Following the selection of cloud provider(s), it is critical to define how and when to use the different cloud service models. Additionally, to avoid vendor lock-in, certain tools can be considered to enhance functionality.
- End-state architecture: Once the cloud provider(s) and the service model have been selected, the next step is to design your end-state cloud architecture. Various components will be considered, selected, and defined. Components could be storage, software capabilities, applications, security, network, on-premise resources, and even the middleware engineered to leverage the power of cloud resources to solve business problems.
Several considerations and evaluations need to be done before companies can define their reference architecture that fulfills all security, compliance, and business requirements.
Just as technology has transformed how we plan our family road trips, we also have technologies that can accelerate our journey as we modernize our systems to cloud-first destinations. CGI has helped numerous organizations define their cloud strategy and developed the roadmap to enable our clients to follow a structured process and become successful on their adoption journey.
Is your organization on the journey to the cloud? Learn more about our cloud and hybrid IT services, and how we help organizations gain insights into cloud readiness, highlight where you’re excelling, and understand where you may be stuck.