We live in an era when data is rapidly moving into the “cloud”. Manufacturers of personal computers and devices such as smartphones or tablets are steadily encouraging their users to “file away” all their personal data in the cloud. In the corporate world, businesses and organizations are not exempt from this pressure. This has resulted in a frenzied trend toward moving crucial files, core applications, and business services to the cloud with promises of increased scalability, mobility, and security in return. However, a growing number of companies, while enthusiastic about the benefits, are wary of public cloud services and are opting for a private cloud or hybrid cloud solution (A combination of private and public cloud services to fulfill specific objectives) to meet their needs.
Private cloud systems are considered less risky than public clouds for sensitive company information and sudden service outages in the past by large public cloud service providers like Amazon and Google have proven that reliability is not certain. Further, private cloud systems enable organizations to have complete control over their network infrastructure and applications, allowing them to easily scale back platforms to support critical legacy applications that might not be supported by public cloud infrastructure or application platforms.
For any organization migrating their applications architecture to a private cloud, there are three key preparation areas to take into consideration before they begin.
- Comparison of Utilization Metrics: The most important first step is conducting an exhaustive analysis of all current system utilization data to determine if migrating to private cloud architecture is feasible for the organization and whether it meets both business and IT objectives. This stage involves collecting all the essential data that will show whether migrating to a private cloud would be expedient. As part of this analysis, it is necessary to set defined goals that the migration is expected to meet. Crucial data includes an assessment of the current infrastructure’s application utilization metrics to set a benchmark of the metrics that virtual systems (hosted in a private cloud) would provide.
- Cost Analysis: Once ample data has been collected and examined to demonstrate plausible reasons to migrate, the next step would be to analyze the cost of migration. This takes into account the overall cost of the migration and long-term maintenance of a private cloud system. Key questions should include: does the organization have the necessary disaster recovery, replication and security resources to maintain the infrastructure required to run a private cloud system? Does the organization have the resources to manage a technical team that would oversee an on-premises private cloud system and ensure its reliability?
- Architectural Design Blueprint: The last key item involves the creation of a comprehensive architectural design blueprint. This takes into consideration the number of necessary physical systems and virtual systems that would be necessary to run all applications and services. A buoyant and efficient backup system is essential for any cloud design to be feasible, so adequate provisions must be made for this. Also, since an efficient cloud system is built on a reliable network, there must be sufficient network redundancy and fault tolerance to keep systems up in the event of any system failure. Network infrastructure also needs to exist in at least two different physical locations for an added layer of security and redundancy. The design blueprint should also have room for expansion of system and resources in the event of a need for increased allocation of resources to any system.
Building a practical cloud system is a big investment for any organization, and the many benefits of such a system might not be experienced universally. Therefore, an organization needs to carefully consider its current and future utilization metrics, examine cost analysis of migration and establish an architectural design blueprint before reaching a final decision on whether to migrate its application architecture to a private cloud. The relatively minor cost outlay for these preparatory steps far offsets costs incurred by jumping into a cloud migration project unprepared. The knowledge these critical steps provide will arm your organization for a successful future in the right environment.