Much has been said about the rise of the cloud and how companies can leverage IaaS (Infrastucture as a Service) to save capital and staff costs. Pretty much every major vendor has put forth some sort of cloud strategy and have more than likely already given you some sort of presentation about how your organization can benefit from leveraging their solution stack.
As much as I see a lot of great benefits by jumping in to some of these solutions, it is important for every organization to take a step back, regroup, and figure out what this major shift means to them.
There are a lot of benefits that organizations can reap from these technology offerings, but before you commit there are some important things that you should consider.
Is Your House in Order?
It is important to ask yourself if your organization has a really good grasp on current internal processes. Do you have some base SLAs in place and does the business have a good grasp on what they need in terms of up-time requirements, Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO)?
Do an audit of your directory services (Active Directory for instance) and make sure that you fully understand any requirements that you may have that are over and above what most cloud providers support. Also make a list of all applications and services so that you know what the lay of the land is.
What Does the Business Need?
It always amazes me how little most IT departments know about the goals and requirements that the business units have. A lot of the time all that it takes is to sit down with some of the managers of of various departments and listen to their concerns and lay out a number of solutions to their problems. You may be surprised to know that you already have solutions in place that they are just not aware of.
Build a Private Cloud
As every good engineer knows, there is nothing better then testing, testing, testing. based on the above exercises, you should be able to get a really good idea of what kind of cloud services are right for your organisation.
Start to build a private cloud based on the needs of the business units that will most benefit from it. You more than likely already have a platform that you have committed to, be it VMware, HyperV or maybe you want to go all in and have the talent pool to go with a platform like OpenStack. Take that platform, build it out, and then figure out how that will scale up and out to the cloud
Once you do it in house, you will have a much better idea of what you need from your cloud provider and it will help you to ask the right questions and pick the right partner.
This will be the infrastructure platform that you will need to expand and support for quite some time, so it is important that you and your major stakeholders truly understand where you stand and where you want to go. Take the time to analyse where you are now and where you want to be in the near future. In doing these three exercises, you will be much better placed to select what offerings are applicable and how you will be able to leverage them.