Businesses are increasingly migrating to the cloud because of the flexibility, cost savings and other related benefits. Cloud adoption figures are already high and are projected to rise further. IDC predicts that in 2014, cloud spending, including cloud services and the technology to enable these services, will surge by 25 percent, reaching over $100 billion. Moreover, Gartner predicts that from 2013 through 2016, $677 billion will be spent on cloud services worldwide (figures include cloud advertising, which accounts for about half of that growth).
But before business owners sign on the dotted line, they need to understand their objectives, the expected ROI associated with moving to the cloud, and the risks that go along with it. Doing so will increase the chance of not only a successful migration, but also long-term success. Finding the right balance between reducing risk and maximizing value is important, but not always clear-cut. There are several questions businesses should ask themselves before determining if they're ready to go to the cloud.
1. What is my expected ROI? Return on Investment (ROI) is the savings expected to result from moving to the cloud compared with a company’s existing costs. A thorough analysis is needed, taking into consideration the following elements:
- Hardware savings
- Reduced expenses due to optimal staffing
- Lessened energy costs
- Application changes
- Organizational efficiency
2. Which of my applications need additional protection? Many companies haven't thought about classifying their information assets, but it's an important part of moving applications to the cloud. Identifying, classifying and protecting information at all levels will facilitate the move. This includes taking into account requirements for physical and technical security, as well as procedural and legal requirements.
3. Have I thought about how my applications with perform in the cloud? Although businesses may adopt new applications when they move to the cloud, it's likely they will first look to migrate existing applications. Existing code may need to be refactored because of the differences in the underlying architecture of cloud-hosted applications and systems. Code refactoring is often done to optimize the performance of a cloud application and needs to be considered when changing to a different infrastructure architecture.
4. Who will monitor the performance of my applications? Testing and monitoring does not stop after a successful deployment to the cloud. If the performance of the application or system affects your business, monitoring will remain a critical part of your processes. You can continue to monitor those assets yourself, or utilize the capabilities of your cloud provider.
5. What will I do if something goes wrong? You test and test, and everything is fine. But your planning needs to consider how you will respond if you deploy an application in a cloud environment, it experiences issues, and you have to roll it back. It happens, and how you respond is critical.
Despite all of the positives associated with moving applications to the cloud, it's not for every business. However, by asking the right questions as part of the planning process, and carefully weighing the risks and rewards, many businesses will see a tremendous benefit from cloud adoption.