The integration of cloud computing can bring many benefits to organizations of different types and sizes. Besides optimizing IT resources, this technology allows companies to achieve higher efficiency and makes them more adaptable to ever-changing market conditions. But while many businesses already utilize the cloud infrastructure in one capacity or another, some of them still hesitate to take this step towards innovation. Often, the main reason is the insufficient understanding of how to approach and execute the process.
This article will outline the main aspects that you should consider when integrating cloud computing into an established business. We’ll also explain the basics of cloud technology and the migration options it offers.
Cloud Computing Service Types
Cloud technology allows for delivering on-demand computing services and resources via the internet on a pay-as-you-go basis. It means that a company can just rent data storage or computing power from a cloud hosting provider instead of purchasing physical servers. AWS (Amazon), Google, and Azure (Microsoft) are deemed to be the market leaders; they provide users with the widest range of cloud computing services.
For some people, such a variety of available options may seem quite confusing. But, actually, all services fall in one of the following three groups:
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
As the name suggests, when you choose the IaaS, you get access to the virtual IT infrastructure. For example, you can rent virtual machines, storage capacity, networking, and other resources.
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
This service type is mainly used by the development teams since it provides an environment for building web and mobile applications. With PaaS, programmers can develop, test, and deploy software products, while the infrastructure management lies on the cloud provider’s shoulders.
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
This category covers fully functional software solutions that are managed by a vendor and become available to users upon request and over the internet. Many people use at least several SaaS apps in their daily lives, for instance, Dropbox or G suite. The most popular SaaS products for business include CRMs, ERPs, customer support tools, etc.
As you can see, moving a business to the cloud may take different forms. So, determining what service type will benefit your company the most should be your starting point.
Cloud Integration Patterns
An integration pattern is another crucial aspect to decide on before initiating the actual transition to the cloud. Since every business has unique processes, there is no one-size-fits-all option that would satisfy the demands of every company.
To figure out what path to take, you need to review the existing IT environment at your organization, paying particular attention to legacy systems, gaps, and areas for improvement. Here are a few standard patterns that you may want to consider:
As you may guess, the full migration is when all pieces of the company’s IT infrastructure reside in the cloud. This pattern can be a good fit for small businesses and young enterprises. If your organization is midsize or large, and it already uses some kind of on-premise solutions, it might be challenging to transfer everything to the cloud at once. In this case, it’s better to opt for another scenario.
The partial transition pattern combines on-premise and in-cloud software, resources, and services. It means that a company can start from integrating one or several SaaS solutions and replace traditional applications gradually as they become outdated. Although the partial transition approach can take a while, many businesses select it for the comfortable pace of changes that can be easily tailored to the specifics of a particular organization.
Some companies don’t want to store critical data elsewhere but on their own premises. Also, large corporations may have security policies that restrict them from the full adoption of cloud technology. By choosing the mixed solutions pattern, organizations can split different parts of an application so that its modules will reside on the local resources and within the cloud environment. For instance, a database can reside on-site, while a presentation layer can be transferred to the cloud.
Types of the Cloud
Depending on the organization’s needs, cloud resources can be deployed in several different ways. To select the right type of cloud, you should estimate the budget, define any security and compliance concerns, and determine what skills and knowledge your internal IT department possesses. In general, you can choose from the following options:
If you opt for the public cloud, your company will share it with other customers. Yet, it doesn’t mean that third parties will be able to access your data or interfere with your business activity in some other way. In the Public Cloud model, remote servers, storing, and networking capacities are common for all users. However, every user has a separate secure account, so other companies cannot impact your business.
The private cloud belongs to a single organization, and all its resources are used by one particular business. Like the public cloud, it can be hosted by a cloud provider that manages and maintains all the underlying infrastructure. Alternatively, the private cloud can be located at a company’s data center. In this case, more server management efforts will be required from an internal IT team. The main benefit of this cloud type is that it allows for greater flexibility and customization. But it’s also a more costly option, so all the pros and cons should be carefully weighed up.
Simply put, the hybrid cloud is a model in which public and private clouds are mixed. For instance, a company can use a private cloud for critical applications and data, while services requiring lower security standards (e.g., web-based email) can reside in the public cloud. Both clouds are bound together, allowing apps and information to move freely between two locations. Since the hybrid model combines advantages of the private and public clouds, it’s considered the most optimal option for most businesses.
Targeted Business Processes
If the full migration isn’t a good fit for your organization, it’s important to think about the sequence in which the processes will be moved to the cloud. Usually, all business operations are interconnected, so finding a good place to start can be a really difficult task. The general recommendation is to evaluate the role of each process, determine its connections to other workflows, and assess the team’s readiness to learn quickly.
To simplify this step for you, here are the areas of business activity that many organizations choose to transfer at the very beginning of the cloud integration journey:
- Business process management
- Sales and marketing
- Customer support
- Project management
- Data storage and disaster recovery
If your organization has a complex structure, it’s always helpful to have a transfer plan at hand. Besides helping you to stick to the predefined transfer priority, it will give all team members involved in this process a clear understanding of what is going on at the organization.
Cloud Migration Tools and Services
Most cloud providers offer tools that help businesses complete cloud migration smoothly and in a relatively short period. If you research it, you can also find a variety of detailed instructions specifying how to define the company’s migration needs and what solutions to use in different cases. However, cloud adoption is a complex initiative, so each of its phases has to be professionally curated. Otherwise, you risk losing time and money and getting stuck with non-working processes.
That’s why if you want to avoid major mistakes and ensure that data is securely moved to the cloud, purchasing cloud migration services is always a nice idea. Today, many IT companies specialize in cloud integration, so they can make your life easier by taking over most tasks on your transfer list. Besides, an experienced IT partner can handle all issues occurring down the road and minimize the number of downtimes.
Putting it Together!
Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine a digital strategy of a modern growth-oriented business that doesn’t include a cloud migration section. To properly integrate cloud computing into your business and get the most benefits from this technology, you should pick the right cloud computing service, choose a suitable integration pattern, and define a transfer priority. Also, if you lack the technical expertise, you can always find the best cloud services provider that will guide your company through the cloud adoption process.