The cloud: Where to go first


    So you’ve decided as an enterprise to go big on the cloud – you’ve defined a cloud strategy. But where do you get started?

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    It seems like everything is “cloud-washed” these days and all cloud vendors trumpet the benefits of moving whatever category they’re selling into the cloud. So how do you dip your toe into the cloudy waters and start building this cloud-friendly enterprise?

    Here are five ideas for easy and common first steps in a cloud journey that will set your business on the right path:

    1. E-mail and calendaring

    This is one area where you may well already be “in the cloud.” Hosted Exchange or similar offerings have been popular for some time now. If you, as the IT department, are still in “the Exchange business” it’s probably a good time to ask yourself if that’s a business you want to be in. This is a mature, competitive cloud market where handing it to a third party can provide superior performance and improved economics. And will your team really miss doing Exchange moves, adds, and changes for your user base? That was a rhetorical question. If you think Office 365 is just a small business offering, check out Office 365 delivered by Rogers to see just how enterprise-ready Microsoft’s new flagship can be.

    1. File sharing

    If you were able to do a complete audit of any and all “shadow IT” in your organization, chances are you’d find that somewhere, someone is using DropBox or any of the other hundred popular consumer-grade cloud sharing platforms in their workflows. If it’s marketing sharing revisions of Photoshop layers for an upcoming ad, maybe that’s not ideal, but it’s not so bad. If it’s the finance department, then there’s a chance we’re getting into “somebody could go to jail for this” territory. Fortunately, there are almost as many enterprise-grade cloud file sharing options as there are consumer-grade, so find one that works for what you need, and give your users an option that will give them better performance, and keep them out of trouble. 

    1. Backup and Disaster Recovery

    In many ways, the cloud was made for backup and disaster recovery. The abundant storage, the low cost but high availability, and the off-site nature of cloud infrastructure make it a perfect fit for making sure your corporate assets are properly backed up and ready should the unthinkable happen. An enterprise-ready cloud backup service such as Rogers CloudBackup is a great step forward for business continuity.

    1. Test and Development

    Whether you’re in the business of internal application development or just test-driving a major upgrade to an existing application, it hardly makes sense for you to host these test and development workloads internally anymore. There are a variety of Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service cloud providers that can provide just enough of the IT infrastructure that you need to get your apps ready for prime time. Rogers, for example, offers public IaaS that can be used as a test/dev environment. Rather than building out that infrastructure yourself, consider plunking down that credit card to have it ready in seconds. It’s not “shadow IT” when you do it!

    1. Net New Applications

    And maybe you’ll be so happy with your test and dev experience that you’ll want your new applications to stay in the cloud. That’s fine. That’s the beauty of the hybrid cloud concept, which combines private cloud resources dedicated to the organization with public cloud resources that can be provisioned on demand. If you’re serious about moving to the cloud, adopting a “cloud first” mentality for any new applications, be they core IT apps or new requirements from line of business leaders, is a great way to get started. While there’s necessarily some complexity in varying degrees from moving existing “legacy” enterprise apps to the cloud, starting with the cloud for any clean sheet projects will help those projects get realized much faster, change the economics for new projects, and help your crew learn how cloud works in an enterprise IT environment and when and where it makes sense for your business.

    Those are five common starting points for the enterprise cloud, but there are no wrong answers. It all depends on your business needs and priorities. There are as many options for paths forward as there are clouds in the sky.

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    Robert Dutt
    Robert Dutt has been covering the Canadian IT industry, with a close focus on SMB and the solution providers that serve them, for almost twenty years.