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Planning for the cloud: What CIOs need to know

Planning for the cloud: What CIOs need to know

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Article by: Jim Poole, Vice President Business Development, Equinix

There’s no doubt the cloud can make things easier for organisations seeking to ramp up and scale applications, services and other business and IT service delivery initiatives quickly. However, diving into the cloud isn’t as straightforward as it’s sometimes made out to be.

Here is what CIOs and their organisations should seriously consider when starting a cloud deployment:

The best migration path

Even mainstream applications such as email may not migrate and operate in the cloud as smoothly as you’d think. When considering applications for cloud migration, it is wise to do some preliminary testing of any application in the cloud before diving in. One of the tools enterprises and cloud providers alike have adopted recently to ease migration and management is container technology. Containers for application migration to the cloud are becoming a standard that greatly simplifies cloud development and enables better control and security.

Don’t overlook the impact on your network

Nothing kills the cloud user experience like a slow, unreliable network and shared Internet connections that can also put security at risk. We strongly suggest deploying your cloud infrastructure in proximity to a dense ecosystem of network and cloud service providers where you can interconnect to a variety of services via high-performance direct and secure connections. Also, bringing cloud and network services to the edge of your corporate network can deliver a better user experience than backhauling growing amounts of cloud traffic to a corporate data centre.

What’s really behind the cloud

The word ‘cloud’ conjures up images of a fluffy, amorphous world where magical things happen. But face it, a cloud service is actually one or more massive physical data centres running a lot of hardware and software. You have to consider what and where that data centre is, who is running it and how well they harness their technology (virtualised or otherwise) to deliver cloud services, scalability and security. You also need to consider how you and your users will interconnect to those services and what kind of experience will result.

Don’t get locked in

Deploying the cloud is an evolutionary learning process. A provider may seem perfect for your needs today, but not tomorrow. More organisations are moving towards a hybrid, multi-cloud strategy that may even deploy multiple interconnected public and private cloud services to deliver a single enterprise service. Why is this important? Not every application has the same performance requirements and no generic cloud service can meet the needs of every workload permutation that enterprises develop.

Remember disaster recovery

Disaster recovery is another function that you’d best not leave to a single cloud provider. Sure, a single provider may have multiple locations, but you still have to take responsibility for your organisation’s cloud-based data and protect against potential cloud service breaches or failures.

There are several options, including harnessing the cloud for the application but keeping data private and backing it up via the services of a disaster recovery cloud provider. For example, you can take disaster recovery to a higher level that harnesses two or more cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, to store your data or run your applications. If one service suffers downtime, the other is still up and running to deliver data, applications and services to your users.

Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the agility and scalability the cloud has to offer. But make sure you craft an interconnected cloud strategy first that maximises not only business agility, but cloud performance, security and disaster recovery.

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