What Kind of Cloud Buyer Are You?

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MATT GERBER<BR/>2nd WatchMATT GERBER
2nd Watch

Matt Gerber is Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at 2nd Watch.

If your company is experimenting by migrating a single application to the cloud, there’s no need to reinvent processes. But what if you are looking to move entire departments of users and applications to AWS or Azure? That can mean a full-scale transformation of IT operations.

As with houses, vacations and cars, the more you spend, the more you’ll need to consider and plan around. Below, we talk about three basic levels of cloud engagement that are becoming commonplace in today’s market, with planning ideas at each level.

Calculated cloud infrastructure buyer

The calculated cloud infrastructure buyer has or is about to dip his/her toe in the proverbial cloud water. They’re eager to experiment but not ready to fully commit. They often begin by acquiring enough capacity to move a single, “safe” app to the cloud, one that won’t bring the business down if it fails. They may migrate an application that’s suffering or is costing too much to support as usage grows. We know a Fortune 500 food products B2B company that had a pricing application for its restaurant customers that was running slowly; customers were complaining. After moving the application to AWS they can now ramp up resources quickly as needed and they’ve also dramatically improved response times.

Preparation tips: Fortunately, as a calculated buyer, your cautious moves won’t require you to make major changes to your IT organization. Yet plan for how you will track the progress and success of the cloud application and make sure that it’s in compliance with any governance rules such as access and security. Someone in the IT department will need to oversee and report on your pilot projects.

Market-driven cloud infrastructure buyer

The market-driven cloud infrastructure buyer has many applications in the cloud. These applications consist of all of the “edge” apps such as the public website, marketing applications, account management, order processing, e-commerce or customer service. The cloud enables rapid adjustments, which is common in customer-facing applications, and it can also handle workloads that go up and down with no warning. We know a Fortune 500 consumer products company that moved from the calculated stage to the market-driven stage on AWS. The company now has over 50 web properties on Amazon today, a growing investment that helps them be responsive in the highly competitive consumer goods industry.

Preparation tips: Get strategic about planning consumption, management and provisioning of your cloud footprint. Moving to the cloud is like building a house. Major cloud providers offer access to high-quality building materials – compute, storage, auto-scaling, VPC and more. Yet they don’t build the house for you. Consider whether you have the proper skills on hand to design your cloud, build it, and maintain and manage it for performance and reliability. If you don’t have the skill sets in-house, look for a cloud-focused services partner that can reliably deliver a full suite of services. Business and IT alignment around cloud strategy is also critical at this stage.

All in cloud infrastructure buyer

Are you a cloud groupie? Then you belong here. Your company is moving its entire data center to the cloud and is aggressively transitioning both edge and core apps to the cloud. We know of a Fortune 500 division that’s shutting down its data center operations this year and moving everything into AWS. Managers are seeing notable cost and agility benefits, and predict a day soon in which other divisions of the company will join them in the cloud.

Preparation tips: You’ll need to make a fundamental change in how you manage IT when everything is running in the cloud. That shift entails having a comprehensive service catalog for users, embracing DevOps culture and practices, and viewing infrastructure as a commodity to leverage as needed. Create an internal cloud services brokerage group that manages vendor relationships, forecasts and plans consumptions, tracks metrics and monitors cloud performance and user experience. A full-time dedicated person inside the company responsible for directing cloud strategy and overseeing management is a necessity.

Likely migration to the cloud

With cloud computing, so much has changed even over the last year. Companies are no longer considering whether to move to the cloud, but when, how and how much. As your company moves through the above levels of adoption, or versions of them, aim to move beyond a focus on security, governance and compliance. Your sights should be on a constant optimization of the performance, economics, usability and market benefits of your cloud infrastructure.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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