In an April interview, Executive Chairman and former CEO of Visma Øystein Moan highlighted the need we now see amongst businesses to adapt to current conditions. Almost overnight, organisations have had to re-evaluate their digital competencies in order to continue operating and keep their business running. Luckily, transitioning to the cloud model need not be a large investment. As Moan explains:
“That’s why the cloud model fits so well in these times as well. Cloud solutions involve little or no investment but are a service you subscribe to with typically monthly or annual costs.”
Businesses also see many other advantages of cloud environments: Organisations can rapidly transform their operations with little upfront investment and limited procurement requirements; services can easier be digitised and thus improve the way employees execute their work; IT staff can deliver more effectively.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, there are some guidelines that can help with the transition.
How to transition to the cloud: 4 easy steps
1) Learn to “think cloud”
The first step is simply learning how to “think cloud”. Considering both the advantages and possible snags in shifting to cloud computing, you need to understand the benefits, risks, and issues that are associated with moving your business to the cloud.
Although professional cloud solution vendors will take care of many of these aspects for your business, it might be smart to do a little brainstorming around the following questions to increase your understanding:
- Security: How will the cloud services be secured, and who will be responsible for both implementing and managing IT security measures?
- IT support: Who will be responsible for providing support?
- Resource management: Do we currently have the right governance, resources and skillsets in place to plan, implement, and run cloud solutions?
- Privacy and compliance: In terms of privacy, what regulations and compliance do we need to consider? Who retains ownership of the data that is stored in a cloud environment?
- Financial impacts: What are our current IT-related costs, what will be the total cost of replacing on-premises solutions (meaning that the software is installed and runs on a person’s, or organisation’s, own computer rather than at a remote facility such as the cloud) with cloud services? And what will the business impacts and benefits be on moving our business to the cloud?
- Contract and vendor management: How will services by the vendor be managed and what are the terms and conditions of the contract?
2) Plan for success
There are several aspects of this: Find out which business areas can—and should be—hosted in the cloud, and start educating everyone in the organisation.
Communicate about the implications of the transition, and the actions your organisation will take. Start raising awareness amongst everyone in the organisation. Some business groups, such as legal and compliance, should be more involved. Make it clear that there will be implemented new controls and governance functions as a result of the different management requirements that come with cloud solutions.
Assess which business areas should be hosted in the cloud—and what specific functions the solution can take on. Also, evaluate what data can be transitioned to the cloud as some data and applications may need to stay on-premises solutions because of security reasons, governance concerns, or due to cost.
Most organisations execute a cloud readiness assessment: A process, or framework, that involves a list of applications and data that the organisation wants to move to the cloud, and whether or not these can be moved with minimal impact on business operations.
This will help you identify what solutions, applications and data can be moved. In easier terms: Take the rough idea of migration and turn it into a detailed plan that clearly outlines how to make it happen, in what order events should occur, and who should be accountable.
3) Formalise the plan
Before investing in a cloud solution, it might be a good idea to formalise the plan by creating a cloud policy, and an operating model.
Cloud policies are simply the guidelines you set for how your organisation will operate in the cloud, for example to ensure privacy of company-owned information. This policy can also be used for network security, financial management, performance management and cost optimisation.
A cloud operating model, then, outlines the changes your organisation will experience in current workflows, internal processes, and operation as a result of the migration. This should be based on your organisation’s strategic objectives for migration, and also define how your organisation will function after the transition to the cloud has been accomplished.
This will help your organisation manage your exposure to risks, and provide internal guidelines for IT security management, governance, financial management, contract management, information management, and so on.
To ensure that your organisation dedicates enough resources to make the necessary changes in this transitioning process, you might need to assign dedicated teams that only work on cloud-related activities, and that focus entirely on migrating securely.
4) Migrate to the cloud and automate IT management functions
When your organisation has formalised the plan, the next logical step will most likely be to implement the tools you need to manage the cloud solution you are investing in—before starting the migration.
To effectively manage your cloud solution, and make sure that you stay compliant, you should plan for a software that helps you monitor your environment, and that automates certain tasks and functions.
This will help you stay in control of the consumption and usage of your organisation’s cloud services, and stay on top of your continuous governance, which is a combination of several factors: security, risk, compliance, and financial controls.
There are several ways to achieve this, for example by investing in a cloud management platform or by using vendor-provided tools.
According to Deloitte, there are three fundamental capabilities needed to efficiently manage your cloud solutions:
- Self-service cloud provisioning – This enables users to request cloud resources by using a self-service portal
- IT orchestration management – This automates the processes that manage and execute the creation of requested IT resources, such as virtual machines
- Financial management – This is the processes that track and charge IT costs for cloud resources
When you have such a management tool in place, your organisation is then ready to start the transitioning. Seeing cloud environments require only a small investment compared to in-house deployments—and investments for shorter periods—it sets your business up for low-risk opportunities to test out new things and re-envision business processes, with limited negative impact.
Good luck transitioning to the cloud!