Moving to the Cloud? Take Baby Steps, Not Giant Leaps

A guest blog post by Eric Oberhofer, Data Center Practice Director for Iron Bow Technologies

Despite the constant buzz about ‘The Cloud’, the idea of putting services in the cloud is not new. In fact, CIOs and IT managers have been hearing about the move to the cloud for many years. But even with mandates for federal agencies like “Cloud-First”, many still struggle with where to begin.

What we’ve found is that when migrating workloads to a cloud, especially to a public cloud, it’s best to take baby steps instead of rushing to move all systems to the cloud at once. To deploy a successful cloud solution it’s important that agencies get an idea of what their data center infrastructure looks like, identify workloads that can be easily moved to the cloud and start with those.

Many of our customers want to know which systems are best. They look for workloads that are enhanced by the increased mobility offered by the cloud, are asynchronous (meaning they don’t use a lot of bandwidth all at one time), or that benefit from the flexibility and rapid provisioning that the cloud can deliver. These systems often include email, collaboration, mobile applications, phone systems, test and development environments and web applications.

Email, phone systems and collaboration solutions are ideal candidates because the mobility that the cloud offers enables employees to access these solutions from anywhere. This can enable telework initiatives by allowing employees to access previously desk-based communications such as voicemail, email and other communications from their home or other web-enabled location. These workloads are also asynchronous and don’t utilize a large amount of bandwidth all at once.

Web applications are also ideal for cloud hosting. In fact, the cloud is actually preferred in some cases due to its flexibility and ability to automatically increase or decrease server instances to meet user demand. A great example of this is increasing web and application servers during a peak period and then scaling back the servers and their utilization costs after the peak period is over.

In the past, IT departments had to overspend on their data center infrastructure to ensure that they had the bandwidth needed to handle the traffic to web applications and web sites. If a spike in usage and traffic occurred, it would take too long to purchase and implement additional hardware, so IT departments were often inclined to overinvest in order to ensure their infrastructure was adequate. The cloud enables them to only purchase the bandwidth that they need and quickly increase their bandwidth when traffic and usage spike.

The cloud doesn’t have to be a mysterious place for CIOs and IT managers. As FedRAMP certified cloud providers and agencies look to meet mandates, many are beginning their journey to the cloud. The key is to start small, get a complete picture of the agency’s IT infrastructure and identify the workflows most appropriate for a move to the cloud. By moving collaboration, phone, email and web systems first, organizations can begin to realize the benefits and cost savings of cloud solutions, and then analyze other mission-critical systems for a move to the cloud in the future.

Eric Oberhofer, Data Center Practice Director, Iron Bow Technologies