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Cloud Computing best practice #1: Before all else, strategy, strategy, strategy

Importance of Developing a Cloud Strategy

The odds are overwhelming that your business will end up engaged in Cloud Computing (if it hasn’t already). Whether you’re stepping toward Cloud services for the first time, expanding your use, or revisiting what you want to achieve with Cloud services, the very first thing you should do is to develop a Cloud strategy.

This involves two major elements (both with lots of components):

  1. Do your Cloud provider due diligence. In order to find a Cloud provider with the ability to meet your organization’s requirements, carefully review the provider’s …
    • Cloud infrastructure, which should:
      • Be based on an enterprise-grade virtualization platform with virtual security (rather than security solutions designed for physical environments grafted onto a virtualized environment),
      • Integrate server, network, and storage access resources into a physically distributed but centrally managed system, and
      • Implement a united fabric technology that reduces costs by eliminating need for multiple sets of network adapters, cables, and switches.
    • Regulatory compliance policies and procedures.
    • Security and data protection policies and procedures.
    • Development practices (how developers use your data for testing may have compliance implications).
    • Data classification policies and procedures, since these may affect where your data can reside.
  2. Conduct a Cloud feasibility assessment. And unless you have Cloud computing expertise on staff, don’t try to do it alone. Instead, look for a Cloud services provider who will conduct a free Cloud feasibility assessment that…
    • Helps you identify which IT capabilities you’re thinking of offloading to the Cloud; the best app candidates are those most frequently requested by users, which also tend to be those that change often, such as…
      1. Transient apps that are often provisioned, reallocated, cloned, etc. — e.g., a development/test environment,
      2. Variable-demand apps for which users frequently request application resource adjustments — e.g., seasonal transactions, scientific computation, and
      3. ‘Long tail’ apps that don’t get prioritized by IT — e.g., resources for an extranet.
    • Determines what sort of service availability your business requires as well as the security, privacy, and compliance mandates you must meet.
    • Recommends ways you can achieve a seamless transition to the Cloud.

Remember: It’s certainly possible to shift only particular components to the Cloud (e.g., storage, user interfaces/desktop images) and leave the rest untouched on your premises — but pay attention to colocation of Cloud data for components that are data-process-intensive.

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