What to say to the board about cloud before a data center migration

Recently, I called on a TDS client for whom we had just completed a data center assessment in advance of an upcoming move we are going to be executing for them. As we listened to them, I was struck by the pressure they were getting from senior management and the company’s board to articulate a “strategy” for cloud computing. With all the focus on cloud, it’s an obvious question — but still one they struggle with.

You could see these clients were torn: on the one hand, they really want a cloud strategy — they’re true believers that it can increase agility and deliver better service. But on the other hand, they just want to get their move doneAnd they want to develop a coherent plan for implementing cloud technologies before the subject gets taken out of their hands and becomes a directive instead of a question.

That got me thinking: what should you say and do in this situation? Consider these three simple ideas:

      1. Move messaging to the cloud. If you are a Microsoft Exchange shop, this is cookbook-easy using Office 365. Seriously, Office 365 has long since gone mainstream. On the technology side, you could never run a better Exchange environment than the one Microsoft has built. And on the business side, Microsoft will do whatever is necessary to make you whole on licensing, whatever your pre-paid or purchased license situation is. If you aren’t an Exchange shop, here’s a shocker: you probably should be via Office 365. Microsoft’s implementation is just that good.
      2. Don’t hand-wave at the cloud. You can’t escape the pressure to do “something” about the cloud: senior management is being bombarded with input about the technology. Attempts to argue it’s nascent or “not ready for us” will fall flat in the face of the media onslaught. Instead, identify an application that is both crucial and self-contained. Assess that application’s readiness for a migration and, above all, enlist the development team for that application. You might be surprised how enthusiastic they are for a migration to the cloud.
      3.  Make a decision and then get the right help. There are two winners in the cloud business: Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. Pick one. Either one is a good, long-term, sustainable decision. It’s just that simple. Then, look for a consultant with “arrows in his or her back” from real-world work on that cloud. Make sure he or she has experience with an “all-in” (that is, 100% in the cloud) implementation project. Why is that important? Simple: it ensures the consultant has had to address the entire spectrum of issues in the cloud: apps, storage, networking, security, performance, monitoring, recovery and so on. Believe me, very few firms, if any, are good enough at both AWS and Azure to be trusted with your first important application.

If you, like the clients I talked with, need to move data centers and are thinking about the cloud, we’d be happy to elaborate on these ideas. Just contact us.

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