Enterprises can now run their entire IT environment in the cloud. Here are five things to consider before you go all in.
IT leaders are under pressure to use technology to transform their enterprises.
Developing a digital strategy is required to stay relevant and an essential part of driving innovation and business growth. CEOs and CIOs must use digital technology to improve the customer experience and speed their time to market. They also must give employees the tools they need to work efficiently from any device or location.
However, many enterprises are held back by legacy systems that aren’t flexible. This hinders their ability to quickly adapt to change and gain a competitive edge.
In fact, 52 percent of IT leaders said that “legacy systems” are their second largest barrier to digital transformation. These systems likely impact their biggest barrier to success – the inability to experiment quickly.
Many enterprises are turning to the cloud to gain a competitive edge and transform digitally. According to a recent study, IT executives said that both public and private clouds are contributing to revenue growth.
As the cloud matures, IT leaders are moving more of their applications into public, private, and hybrid environments. Cloud services can help you transform digitally while you reduce the burden on your internal team, as they won’t need to maintain and support your infrastructure.
The number of items that your cloud provider can take off your plate has expanded in recent years. In fact, you can now run your entire IT environment in the cloud.
What is Everything-as-a-Service?
For many years, the cloud primarily offered software-as-a-service (SaaS). Then, it expanded to support more areas within IT – including infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).
Now, you have the flexibility to run your entire IT environment in the cloud.
Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) is the ability to purchase any IT service via the cloud. TechTarget defines XaaS as “a general, collective term that refers to the delivery of anything as a service. It recognizes the vast number of products, tools and technologies that vendors now deliver to users as a service over a network – typically the internet – rather than provide locally or on-site within an enterprise.”
According to a recent report, the “anything-as-a-service” trend will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 38 percent by 2020. Companies are moving to the XaaS model so that they have the agility to seize opportunities and quickly develop new services.
XaaS uses a consumption-based pricing model, which is ideal if you need to quickly scale your environment so that you can meet new business demands. You simply buy what you need and pay for what you use.
This model is also beneficial if you have limited IT resources to manage your environment in-house, as you don’t need to worry about how your cloud services are built or delivered. Your cloud provider takes care of everything for you.
XaaS is like satellite radio. You pay for a service, such as radio stations, that are delivered over the internet. Hopefully, you will get value from the service and use it on a daily basis. If not, you can cancel at any time and try something different.
The Two Flavors of XaaS: Which Is Right for You?
There are two types of XaaS solutions: point solutions and integrated, holistic solutions.
Point solutions, such as security-as-a-service and backup-as-a-service, are fairly easy to implement and don’t need integration with other environments.
Other XaaS solutions are more complex and may require integration with your back-office applications. For example, you will need to integrate SAP Ariba with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Your in-house IT team may need to provide application management support during this process.
What Are the Benefits of XaaS?
Analysts predict that cloud adoption rates will continue to grow in all areas, particularly the public cloud.
The more workloads you move to the cloud, the more you can increase your flexibility agility and gain a competitive edge. With XaaS, you can:
- Increase your agility and provide services faster, as you don’t need to build everything from scratch in house.
- Easily scale. Your cloud provider can quickly adjust your services as your demand changes.
- Eliminate capital investments in hardware and infrastructure.
- Free your IT team to focus on innovation, since they won’t need to manage and support your cloud environment in house.
- Gain built-in security from the public cloud that is often more robust than on-premise infrastructure security.
5 Things to Consider Before You Go All-In with the Cloud
Although the cloud offers a number of benefits, you will only achieve a return on investment (ROI) if you go in with a plan.
Here are five things to do before you move your IT environment to the cloud – whether you want to migrate a single workload or adopt a comprehensive, XaaS model:
1. Conduct a proof of service
One of the biggest benefits of the public cloud is that you can pay-as-you-go and cancel at any time. If you’re not sure which public cloud environment is best for your workloads, you can test them against each other to see which one is the right fit. Then, you can cancel any services that you don’t want to use.
Although it takes some effort to test a public cloud environment, the time you put in upfront can save you a lot of hassle and money down the road. Testing reduces your risks and helps you ensure that each workload has highest levels of security, reliability, and performance.
2. Take a long-term approach
The cloud isn’t all or nothing. You can start small by moving one of your applications or services to the cloud. After you see results, you can migrate your mission critical systems, such as your SAP environment, to the cloud.
Look at your plan for the next two to five years. Where do you want to be, and what services do you want to provide? How does your IT environment need to evolve so that the business can achieve its long-term goals? Which cloud services will help you hit your targets now and in the future?
Choose a cloud provider who has the services that you need now, along with the ones you may want in the future. It’s often easier to expand services with your current cloud provider than to put parts of your environment with another vendor. For example, you may run into security, connectivity, or latency issues if your cloud services don’t integrate. When you work with a single cloud provider, you won’t need to worry as much about integration. This makes scaling your environment easier.
3. Consider hidden costs
Many cloud providers offer enticing base packages so that they can get your sale. But then they charge you for every add-on, which can make the costs of running your cloud environment unsustainable.
Before you choose a cloud provider, consider how your services might expand over time. How much will your provider charge when you add new users and workloads? How will your costs change as your consumption increases? What about securing your cloud environment?
4. Create an exit plan
What will happen if your cloud provider stops supporting a key service? For example, you don’t want to invest thousands of hours using a cloud development tool for one of your apps and then learn that your provider is discontinuing it. Sudden changes in service can cause your app to break and your users to experience downtime.
Ask if your cloud provider will give you a guarantee of continued service before you sign up. Can they promise that their tool will be available for however long you plan to use it?
Also, create an exit plan in case something goes wrong and you must shift gears quickly. For example, can you quickly move your workloads back to their original environment, or will you need to find another cloud provider? You will also need someone to put your exit plan into action. It might be hard to find this person if you are short on in-house staff, so be sure to assign this role before you move workloads to the cloud.
5. Address your security concerns
Many enterprises mistakenly think that their cloud platforms are secure out-of-the-box. However, your provider will assume that you are taking measures to protect your data in the cloud.
If you are migrating your workloads to the cloud, be sure to ask the following security questions:
- What will your cloud provider do to keep your data secure in their platform?
- What security tools do they use?
- How will they ensure that your data complies with industry and government regulations?
- What security measures are you responsible for, and what protection does your provider offer?
- Do you have security alarms in place to alert you to potential threats?
- Do you have endpoint protection tools to stop malicious content from accessing your company’s desktops and mobile devices?
The more systems you move to the cloud, the faster you can transform your enterprise. However, if you have limited IT resources, you may struggle to make digital transformation a reality.
Working with a partner who has close relationships with leading cloud providers can hasten your transformation. The right partner will ensure that you put best practices in place when you move your systems to the cloud. They will also handle your day-to-day maintenance and admin, so your IT team can focus on other projects that drive value for your enterprise.
Do you want to deploy cloud services quickly and cost effectively – while reducing the burden on your in-house team? Download How to Master Cloud Complexity.
You can also contact us today to discover how we can ease your transition to the cloud.