While it may not have been part of a strategic plan, most organizations today have significant use of cloud technologies within the enterprise – the question is whether they know it. The first step of a cloud strategy should be to identify the cloud technologies already in use. It is easy to identify the large implementations such as Salesforce.com or Office 365, but most organizations have dozens of cloud applications in use – many that have been deployed without the support of IT. Tools like Cloud App Discovery, included in Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory Premium service, allow organizations to identify the use of all cloud applications in the enterprise. Using this data, IT leadership can understand not only what applications are in use, but who is using them and how much data is being transferred. This information can help prioritize further discovery and decisions related to how to control and govern these cloud technologies.
The reality is, many applications can be migrated to a public cloud infrastructure with little to no modifications. This is especially the case with custom .NET applications, which can often be quickly migrated to Azure, Many applications are now also able to utilize the Azure platform, with almost 3,500 applications in the Azure Marketplace and many more supporting deployments. Using the organization’s current list of supported applications, each application should be classified as one of the following:
Classifications should not be based solely upon the technology requirements. Other attributes, such as appropriateness for the cloud (cost, regulatory, security, etc), should also be factored into the classification.
Once you have the list of in-use cloud applications (sanctioned and unsanctioned), as well as, a classification of cloud appropriateness for your enterprise applications, IT leaders can begin to prioritize the waves of cloud deployments. Most enterprises will first choose to get the unsanctioned cloud applications under corporate control by deployment of centralized contracts, authentication, and vendor management. During this period, IT architects can begin to plan out waves of cloud migrations for corporate applications. This planning and prioritization should consider:
As you consider these questions and others, you can begin to develop a roadmap of cloud migrations for the next two to three years.
Once there is consensus on the plan, challenge your team to aggressively execute on the plan. In order to get business leaders and the IT team comfortable with the plan, execute on quick wins. Examples may include:
Use this first wave to build skills, confidence, and most importantly – process to successfully support cloud applications.
As many companies have relationships with outsourcing firms, it is important to assess how they can be a partner in this transition. Many are conflicted because they have revenue streams associated with hosting their customer’s applications in their data center. West Monroe’s Performance Services team has taken a different approach to IT outsourcing and managed services. We believe the focus should be on IT process delivered by experts, passionate in their areas of expertise. With this focus in our core, we manage IT resources regardless of their location – in your data center, at a co-location facility, or in a public cloud environment. We can also bring to bear a consulting team who can help you develop your cloud strategy and execute on the migrations.