Moving to the public cloud is a good thing for most businesses. It optimises workloads, reduces costs, and helps you enjoy emerging technologies sooner. However, a successful transition to the cloud requires more than just understanding the technology. It takes a lot of planning, focus, and collaboration, as a single misstep can quickly turn into a costly and time-consuming effort.
To ensure your business makes the most of its public cloud transition, we’ve gathered the top seven public cloud best practices to keep you on track. Whether you’re still planning the transition or have already moved to the public cloud, these best practices will streamline your digital transformation, accelerate the time to value, and reduce your risk.
- Get buy-in across the organisation
- Commit to the cloud
- Be flexible with your public cloud approach
- Establish a public cloud working group
- Understand the cloud economy
- Mind the security gap
- Promote continuous cloud optimisation
1. Get buy-in across the organisation
Since public cloud usage will span your entire organisation, it’s essential to get buy-in from relevant stakeholders before, during, and after the transition. It brings visibility to the project, so everyone knows how they’re impacted while giving them a voice in how the public cloud is used.
Some organisations bring together stakeholders for cloud workshops and information sessions to share the project details and address questions and concerns. These sessions can be a significant time investment for businesses, but considering how much a public cloud transition costs, it’s worth it. Getting feedback and input from stakeholders upfront helps avoid bigger and more costly issues later.
2. Commit to the cloud
Another best practice is to make an organisational commitment to the cloud. Being a cloud-first organisation means that all applications, systems, and data move to the cloud unless there’s a compelling reason they don’t. Without committing to being cloud-first, your business will not understand why they should dedicate the appropriate resources to make the organisational changes needed for it. Your business may make a half-hearted attempt to explore, move to, and sustain your public cloud program, leading to other issues and challenges later. When your business understands the benefits of the public cloud and fully commits to it, it can be such a game-changing experience that leaders may wonder why they didn’t move sooner.
3. Be flexible with your public cloud approach
Most businesses won’t move every app, workflow, system, or data store to the public cloud. It’ll probably depend on each one’s priority, use, and the technology supporting it. This means most businesses will need to move to a hybrid cloud model where their cloud-based applications access legacy on-premises services or data stores. And the model might change with the transition strategy and maintenance program as new cloud technologies become available.
The cloud strategy you start with might not be the one you end up with or the one you use three years from now. Your business must now decide on a cloud strategy and learn how to be flexible with it going forward. A solid understanding of your current tech stack and workflow usage can go a long way here. You’ll know what you have, what you need, and what gaps to fill with potential new cloud technologies.
4. Establish a public cloud working group
A gathering of relevant stakeholders and business leaders can help guide your public cloud program over its lifetime. Called working groups, centres of excellence (COEs,) or a cloud business office, this group is an operational and governing group that directs and guides all aspects of your cloud program. This is essential since public clouds touch every area of an organisation. You need guidance and input from all these groups to create policies and compliance rules for public cloud usage across the organisation.
Some businesses create a cloud COE for implementations only, while others have ongoing public cloud business offices with full- and part- time members. No matter how your business does it, be sure to include relevant participants, such as IT, tech operations, security team leaders, finance, legal, risk management members, application owners, and business unit leaders who regularly interact with the cloud systems. Each one brings a different but relevant perspective to successful cloud adoption.
5. Understand the cloud economics
Public clouds offer good cost savings, but things can quickly get out of control without some due diligence. Cloud economics generally falls into two categories: overall hard costs like total cost of ownership (TCO) and subtle soft costs like the impact on employee productivity or the financial impact of decreasing tech provisioning times from weeks to hours.
Hard cost considerations
When looking at your public cloud hard costs, it’s best to consider the whole cloud package and not a simple server-for-server or application-for-application comparison. Areas to consider include:
- Hardware and networking costs
- Upgrade costs
- Disaster recovery and business continuity spending
- Deployment costs (scaling up or down)
- Operational support costs (weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual)
Soft cost considerations
Moving to a public cloud can impact spending and budgets in subtle ways that aren’t immediately obvious once you transition. A TCO comparison is a good starting point; however, you may also want to consider:
- How to measure the impact on productivity levels
- Understanding the impact of faster software lifecycles or product delivery timelines
- Measuring human error and public cloud outages
Each business will have to determine the metrics, KPIs, and reports that will help track their public cloud economics over time. The model your business uses will get better over time as you add more use cases and build up the cloud data you track.
6. Mind the security gap
Using public clouds comes with security challenges and risks, no matter which you choose. You want visibility into how your data is secured as it travels to and is downloaded from the cloud and how the cloud vendor secures it while it’s there. You need visibility and control into the public cloud for your business peace of mind, but you may also need to prove it to meet certain legal or industry governance requirements.
Your business should always understand the risks of the public cloud, identify any areas of concern, and review employee security training and public cloud compliance policies. You’ll need to strategically apply security to your public cloud based on use, level of risk, and compliance rules at all times. That includes looking at data protection policies, encryption options, zero-trust authentication, and more. Every time you bring on a new public cloud service, you’ll need to review every security policy, compliance rule, and training to ensure it still applies to your cloud situation. Ensuring public cloud security is never a one-and-done activity and requires collaboration across your business. Any security failure can put your business at reputational and financial risk.
7. Promote continuous cloud optimisation
And the continuous optimisation and review of your public cloud implementation aren’t just limited to the security aspect. Your entire public cloud program and strategy should be reviewed regularly since it spans your entire business: finance, process, technology, security, legal, HR, and more. That’s where the public cloud business group or COE can help, but even if you don’t have a formal working group, you can still do it.
Here are a few areas you should regularly optimise across your business:
- Finance: Establish economic or financial models and KPIs that you’ll track across the business. For example, budgets, chargebacks, overruns, and SLA penalties. Your goal is to build an approach that offers financial data for cloud program improvement.
- Technology: Regularly review your public cloud infrastructure and the features available to you. Cloud vendors are constantly enhancing their offerings, and your chosen vendors may have new features that could be relevant to your business.
- Cloud education: Employees may not be familiar or comfortable with the cloud service your business rolls out. A solid training program and educational materials can help all of these situations. Check out the free options available on YouTube and with your cloud vendor. Identify areas where you might need custom documentation to support your employees and develop it. Encourage information sharing and questions across the organisation.
- Data: Most cloud vendors provide raw data that you can use to discover insights, but they don’t often help contextualise the data. E.g., they’ll send you a report on VM usage and performance, but leave it up to you to figure out why you see spikes. Take the time to learn what data is available and apply it to your business to uncover insights and create that context.
- Governance: Industry rules and laws change, so make sure your public cloud vendor stays updated with those that apply to your business. Regularly review your current cloud policies to ensure you’re still on-side of all industry and legal requirements while not impeding users or workflows unnecessarily.
Transitioning to a public cloud is not a one-and-done program for most companies. It’s a company-wide program that takes planning and hard work to execute properly. It takes collaboration, conversation, and regular check-ins to avoid missteps and make it a successful program for your business. You’ll optimise your workloads, reduce costs, and get access to emerging technologies sooner.
Following these seven best practices will ensure your public cloud migration goes smoothly and lets you enjoy all the benefits of the public cloud. For help designing the right migration strategy for your organisation, reach out to us today.