According to industry analysts, there are some basics that every IT manager should consider. Here are a few of them.
1. Assess your needs
This may sound simple but it isn't. What do you need out of a cloud? Companies should consider, for example, if they could save money, and person-power, by having a service provider manage the servers and software needed to operate anything from email to HR software or marketing and ordering applications.
Another thing to consider is how much moving applications and data storage to the cloud could free up what is most likely an overworked IT department. Some analysts contend that by offloading some of IT's heavy lifting to the cloud -- including fixing crashed systems, helping users who bring their own devices to work and dealing with an expanding security perimeter -- enterprises can let someone else worry about at least part of the regular maintenance routine.
That, in turn, means IT workers will have more time to be innovative in terms of how they help the business succeed.
Do you want to build your own or do you want to lease private-cloud space on a third-party service from Microsoft, Amazon or other providers?
Companies can host and manage their own private cloud or they can hire a provider, such as IBM or Rackspace, which will create and manage a single-tenant cloud environment for them.
Another question here: Do you have specialists who can handle this or should you get outside assistance from cloud consultants and other specialists? Generally speaking, the smaller a company, the more outside help it probably needs when moving to the cloud.
"These are just some of the qualifying questions you have to ask and answer before you even get started," said Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst. "I would say the best place to start is with a private cloud hosted by a cloud service provider with non-sensitive information. Then as you get more comfortable, you can expand."
He noted that from there, companies can expand into the public cloud or they can build their own in-house private cloud.
2. Categorize your apps, data
The end result of having a hybrid system is it separates the company's information and applications into categories based on where they need to sit in the cloud. So a critical step is to take an honest look at what you're considering to move into the cloud and figure out how sensitive it is or how strategic it is to the core business.
What needs to stay where it is? What kind of mix of public and private cloud do you need?
"Anytime you open up your private system to the public, security is at a higher risk," said Kagan. "But just because there's more security risk is not a reason companies will stay away from the public cloud. They just have to be much more careful."
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