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Simplifying cloud deployment

By Gina Murphy, vice president of sales engineering, NaviSite, special to Network World
February 27, 2012 02:01 PM ET

Network World - This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Moving enterprise applications to the cloud can be a complex and daunting task. What you want to find is a cloud provider that offers a high touch engagement process from beginning to end to smooth the transition.

A high touch process ensures you can engage with various members of the deployment team through the three stages of the on-boarding process, which consists of: readiness assessment; development of a migration, transition or transformation plan; and optimization for cost and efficiency.

We'll take a deeper dive on each.

RESEARCH: Network World's Enterprise Cloud Services archive

Readiness assessment

Like most new technologies, cloud computing can require significant changes in business processes, application architectures, technology infrastructure, and operating models that must be properly understood. Having a well thought-out strategy can mean the difference between success and failure. The first step to understanding these challenges is the readiness assessment. [Also see: "How to get started with cloud computing"]

The purpose of the readiness assessment is for customers to:

1. Determine the scope of what needs to be done to ensure a successful transition.

2. Determine whether they can take a "do it yourself" approach or need/want a fully managed application service.

Prior to any cloud or hosting engagement, cloud service providers with a high touch approach will have a team of personnel scope the project. The team should include an engagement manager, representatives from sales, solutions architects, an executive sponsor and representatives from product management and service delivery. Product management and operations help ensure the cloud service is supportable and sustainable over the long term. The entire team will help to work through any special SLA requirements or compliance issues during the sales process.

As part of a high touch enterprise approach, each of these disciplines remains involved throughout the entire project to ensure the implementation is set up correctly, that it is secure and compliant, and that the client gets what they need, when they need it.

The complete assessment includes:

Technical analysis: IT infrastructure and applications are reviewed to identify services best suited to the cloud. The assessment covers key scalability and architectural issues, including modular design; server and application processes; and database transactions and I/O. Critical application interfaces such as Web services also need to be assessed to determine the optimal cloud migration path.

Economic analysis: Economic considerations play a major role in the decision to migrate to the cloud. Customers need to build comprehensive ROI and TCO models that provide economic justification for cloud migration.

Business and application analysis: This analysis determines whether customers need to re-engineer business processes to leverage the cloud and whether their application needs to comply with specific regulations, such as PCI, HIPAA and GLBA.

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