Enabling the Journey to the Cloud – Part 2

In a previous post, I discussed the journey to cloud and what companies should consider before embarking. The questions to ask up front included:

  1. How do I determine the best way to consume cloud services for my organization?
  2. Which services should I source externally versus build internally?
  3. How will I migrate my applications and data to the selected cloud service?
  4. How can I integrate the cloud environment into my current operational platform?
  5. How will I manage my service levels?

Let’s now address how answers to these questions can be reached to begin your journey to the cloud.

Questions 1 through 3 can be answered by a Cloud Strategy and Roadmap initiative.  Organizations should embark upon a detailed planning project that utilizes a phased approach to define the one-, three- and five-year plan for Cloud adoption.  The initiative should use a structured methodology to find the appropriate answers to those questions. The following approach is recommended:

  • Discovery – Requirements Definition: To identify all of the technical and business requirements for the cloud solution
  • Discovery – Assessment of Current State: How are services provided today?
    • Infrastructure Discovery – What technologies are currently utilized within the environment?  What is the current Business Continuity/Disaster Recover (BC/DR) solution and what impact will a cloud model have on that solution?
    • Application Discovery – Application footprint, application dependencies and machine-to-machine application flows.
  • Synthesize Information & Develop Solution Alternatives: The determination of the appropriate solution alternatives (IaaS, PaaS, StaaS, SaaS, Enterprise Private Cloud or Managed Hosting) from the list of feasible alternatives.  Once the discovery and characterization of the applications is completed the applications are analyzed to ascertain if they are candidates for Cloud services and/or Data Center optimization
  • For those applications which are candidates for Cloud services, it is necessary to further analyze them by Cloud model.  Not all applications are candidates for cloud services and there may be different cloud services that apply to different applications.  It is necessary to build a matrix to align applications to the appropriate cloud offerings within the industry.
    • Which applications are candidates for CaaS services?
    • Which applications are candidates for IaaS Services?
    • Which applications are candidates for PaaS Services?
    • Which applications are candidates for “other” outsourcing or out tasking arrangements?

This step requires a detailed analysis of multiple factors for the applications including the following:

  • Platform requirements
  • Storage requirements
  • Platform Consolidation
  • Migration considerations
  • Licensing
  • Sunsetting of applications
  • Costs to migrate to virtualized environment
  • Solution Recommendation & Roadmap Development –Justification and rationalization for the recommendations made.   This phase also creates the following migration deliverables:
    • Application Migration Method of Procedures (MOP) – The installation steps for the application stack focusing on the appropriate migration model for the applications to be migrated to the recommended cloud model.
    • Data Migration MOP – A MOP focusing on the migration of data to the recommended cloud model.
    • Migration Timeline – The creation of a Migration Timeline supporting the transformation to the new environment

Once Questions 1 through 3 are satisfactorily answered, organizations should turn their  focus on questions 4 thru 5.  The most effective was to achieve this is to define and design a Common Cloud Operational Platform (“CCOP”).  The CCOP supports and  exposes a set of business and operational services (BSS & OSS) as well as provisioning, orchestration, federation and management services.

Besides OSS and BSS, the CCOP also supports  a number of defined User Interfaces serving the three main roles defined within the CCOP:

  • A Consumer Portal to be used by Cloud Service Consumers for self-service delivery, provisioning  & management (the actual cloud service instances are used via a cloud service specific UI)
  • A Provider Portal serving Cloud Service Provider internal users & administrators for daily operations ; and
  • A  Development Portal used by Cloud Service Creators.

CCOP functionality is accessible via APIs exposed by the CCOP-internal components.   The CCOP is normally  structured as an operational platform which supports a number of underlying cloud services.   This platform, thru the integration of several different service modules,  exposes a  hierarchy of  services which can (and sometimes must) be used in support of a  specific cloud service. At this point, enough information is in hand to facilitate the evaluation of integration approaches as well as a determination of how service levels can be appropriately managed in connection with the recommended solution alternatives.

In conclusion, the planning process of cloud deployments is critical,  given the required investment in new technologies as well as the development of new IT processes and roles..  As such, cloud migration is an evolution…it is not a revolution.

Successful cloud migration has to be treated as a detailed process:

  • Strategy and Roadmap is the first step
  • Readiness Assessment is the second step
  • Migration and Transformation is the final step

Infrastructure and Application discovery is the key to identifying applications which can be transitioned to cloud services, particularly since certain applications often function better in certain cloud models.  The integration of orchestration, management, provisioning and federation into existing Enterprise IT infrastructure becomes the key process in terms of successfully operationalizing cloud services.

The ancients once remarked that “all roads led to Rome.”  This essentially noted the fact that all commerce, education,  and power emanated from the capital of the Roman Empire.  Unfortunately, in the arena of cloud migration, there is no one all-powerful center of the cloud universe.  Based on my personal experience, the key to successful cloud adoption and migration is often more about the chosen process as opposed to the cloud product which is eventually selected for deployment.

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