We all know that cloud maturity has grown rapidly during the last couple of years. Many new tools and solutions have arisen and a plethora of services are available from all main cloud vendors. The number of options can be overwhelming: How can we as a supplier find out which of these innovative solutions will offer the most value to our customers? Where to focus and why?
We at Siili have delivered several full lifecycle cloud solutions and projects to our customers, in close collaboration with them. Based on the experiences we have gained during these ventures, we have chosen 4 areas of cloud that best cater to the main needs of our customers and the challenges they might face. These services are:
All these can naturally be delivered separately, but as a whole, these services cover all the phases of cloud adoption from vision and cloud strategy design to the lifecycle management of services and solutions.
Taking the first steps with cloud computing
Every cloud journey is different. Some customers start their journey all by themselves, but it could be little less rocky experience if they had a named courier who would get to know their business and technical needs and could help them to navigate through their cloud journey. Our advisors have several years of experience with multiple cloud deliveries, and their main task is to find the best solutions that will offer the most value to the customer.
Many times, the customer doesn’t know what to do with cloud, how to choose the right cloud solutions or why even use the cloud. This is not at all surprising when looking at all the services that are available by cloud vendors and their service catalogues. The thing is you can use many different solutions to reach the same goal.
Often, we hear the question of “Why do we need a cloud vision?”
Many times, people do not even know what they are seeking for when they begin to use cloud solutions. Their IT department is just buying more and more services from a portal provider, and there is no thought-out reason for the purchases, rather a temptation of “we might need this”. A good cloud vision is a combination of business value and technical capability. It’s a tool that helps customers to grow their business with help of digital innovations. And strategy is tool that tells how to reach that vision.
So, what have we done to help our customers to clarify and ease their journey in cloud? A good starting point has been organizing a couple of preliminary workshops. In the workshops, our advisor goes through with the customer how their business needs look like now and how cloud solutions could help them to fulfill these needs in the future. After the workshops, the customer has a clear roadmap for the first steps of cloud adoption. Also, their cloud vision now looks more concrete. The materials from the workshops can be used as a frame for a landing zone design, which will automate the cloud platform implementation and open lots of new ways to make platforms more secure and modern to administer.
Migration, a twisted opportunity?
For many, the first cloud experience is a “lift and shift” migration. Servers are moved to cloud platform and that´s it. What is often forgotten here is that you should have plans for the whole cloudification of the systems.
It is a really big and unfortunate surprise for many companies when it’s noticed that the costs can be even higher compared to the earlier situation where a datacenter was utilized and it had dedicated servers running on it.
People easily forget that virtual servers run 24/7 in the cloud, and that every second will cost – and in one month there are quite many seconds. We have paid lots of attention to this in our services, and therefore we recommend launching a “modernization project” after a system or server migration to the cloud. Modernization in our offering can be e.g., a recoding software or security hardening of a system. These actions can be enormous or just minor changes that will make sure the migrated systems are secure and cost effective now and in the future, and that they will not cause cost surprises or security threats.
In real life, how do these migration projects look from our aka the advisor’s point of view? For example, when should we advise to use migration instead of full recoding? We have faced situations where current operating systems have reached the end of their lifecycle and no support is available if the solutions continue operating in the datacenter, but the operating systems vendors offer extended support only if the servers will be moved to the cloud. The best solution in this scenario is to move the servers to the cloud to gain a little bit of extra time to thoroughly plan the solution modernization roadmap or other possible options.
On paper, migration projects can look very simple: you just plan the steps, schedule the migration, and migrate the systems into the cloud and that’s it. Unfortunately, in many times migration is not that simple in real life. There are several variables that will effect on how smoothly the migration will be. If we lack of knowledge from the systems and from all the dependencies, there can be unexpected problems when migrating the system to a cloud platform. It’s not an optimal situation to receive calls from the end users after the migration with the message of “Yes, we can use this migrated system, but only one user at a time”.
Do we need monitoring and why is governance so important in the cloud?
These kind of arguments have been heard from time to time in all the years we have worked with cloud solutions. Monitoring in a cloud will help us to proactively react to any changes that happen in the systems we are maintaining. In a good partnership it’s important to share the knowledge and data we receive when monitoring resources and systems, and based on that insight, advise the customer on how to avoid possible challenges with their product environment.
However, it’s important to note that monitoring is much more than just focusing on possible errors and treads. For example, cost management is one of the areas we have used monitoring on. When cloud is the new normal, it’s a natural development that the customers want to know what do they spend their money on, and cloud vendors have built-in tools that can fulfill most of these cost management needs. The reporting requirements for costs may vary from case to case, so sometimes it’s justified to create your own cloud cost monitoring solution or have a custom-built view on data.
With multivendor environments, we can end up in a situation where eventually nobody knows who has permissions to make changes in the cloud environment. Naturally, these changes can be tracked afterwards, but it’s a waste of time and resources if we have to continuously spend time on reversing.
In well planned and maintained cloud environments, the usage of resources is controlled and managed, the systems are secure, and if there are hazards, we have plans on how to react to them and know what are the most business-critical parts that need extra protection.
Conclusions and what’s next?
Creating an offering that covers all the aspects of cloud platforms was not the easiest task to perform. The cloud as a playground is huge and the speed of growth has been unbelievable. We believe that Siili’s offering right now includes the best parts of the cloud and helps our customers successfully reach their business goals.
Our work is not over yet, this is a never-ending story, but the story is interesting. We will continue to develop our cloud offering and will be adding more parts to it to fulfill our customers’ needs. Version 1.0 of our cloud offering is out now, and we are already looking on how to improve it even more.