Once a thorough assessment has been undertaken and we've agreed upon the architecture of your cloud solution - identifying in the process the potential software and functionality that we'll look to move to the cloud for your business - it's time to move on to the design stage.
Cost Effective Solutions
Designing a cost effective cloud service is more complex than simply firing up a computer in the cloud and dumping everything that currently runs on your local LAN into it (unfortunately).
Whilst it is possible to do just that, it would negate one of the main benefits of moving to the cloud in the first place: elasticity.
Elasticity is the name for the functionality that allows your cloud computing capacity to constantly expand or contract, depending on your fluctuating needs. It's a huge money saver for most organisations and one of the principal benefits of moving to the cloud.
BESPOKE DESIGN, SPECIFIC TO YOUR NEEDS
Whilst it's true that there are certain universal similarities, every business we've ever moved to the cloud has had slightly different requirements, peculiarities and idiosyncrasies.
The first things we'll look to ascertain in designing your ideal cloud solution are:
- Which cloud environment/vendor is the right fit for your business?
- From there, our architects spend a substantial amount of time planning exactly how each individual service will operate once migrated to the cloud.Whether you need a custom-built cloud environment or can use the in-built cloud storage available through many off-the-shelf cloud applications (such as Dropbox or Zendesk). Note - a sizeable number of specialist or niche software developers do not offer their own cloud solutions, so to continue to use certain business-critical software programs, a custom-built cloud environment using Azure, AWS or Google Cloud is usually required.
This can be a time-consuming stage of the design process because many legacy systems have been explicitly designed to run on the local area network, across just one or two standalone servers.
Another one of the benefits to cloud computing is load sharing across multiple cloud-based servers, which manifests in quicker response times and redundancy (in case of failure on a particular server).
In order for your legacy solutions to reliably operate in the cloud, it's imperative that adequate architectural requirements are met and thorough preparation is undertaken.
REAL WORLD EXAMPLE: MOVING MAIL TO THE CLOUD
Prior to the advent of cloud computing, running corporate email systems was an expensive venture.
A business could expect a capital outlay of around $15,000 just on the requisite hardware needed to support around 20 email accounts on a Microsoft Exchange system.
Licensing for those 20 users, plus hardware maintenance costs, on-site technical support and a single point of failure all added to the expense and potential for outage that running an Exchange solution entailed - and that's without even getting into the cost of backups, UPS systems and on-site power bills.
Contrast this financial outlay and logistical headache with a cloud based email solution from Microsoft's Office 365 today, which at its basic level currently costs around 6 dollars per month, per user.
In addition to the palpable benefits we've already covered, the elasticity offered by cloud computing means that you can go from 20 users to 20,000 users, without any additional hardware or maintenance costs, as your business thrives and grows. Your cost of service will always remain circa 6 dollars per user to the power of the number of users in your organisation, meaning your business benefits from an enterprise level infrastructure - with all the benefits that entail - at an affordable, scalable price.
DESIGNING AND PREPARING FOR MIGRATION OF EMAIL TO THE CLOUD
We've picked migration of email to the cloud as an example not only because it's a great illustration of the cost benefits to cloud computing, but also because it's a migratory task we undertake with some regularity for our clients: old and new.
Here's a selection of some of the factors we need to consider and build into your design as your IT health professionals, prior to migrating email to the cloud:
- Authentication gateways (identity management)
- Mailbox Backups
- Load balancing across multiple servers that will run in your Azure, Google Cloud or AWS infrastructure
- Gateway brokers (for designating failover paths, redundancy and best response times)
- Geo specific considerations, for latency (email needs to perform just as well for Sandra in Auckland as it does for Julie in Christchurch)
- Prioritisation and QOS (Quality of Service)
- Migration issues (ensuring a seamless cutover to cloud email, without loss of any communication)
If this seems onerous, remember that the key concept and benefit to cloud computing is that your business is paying by the consumption rate, rather than having to invest huge amount of money up front on hardware, licensing and setup.
In other words, the benefits far outweigh the time and cost taken to design a robust cloud solution and it's more than worth it, in the long run, to do it right, at the first time of asking.
With the design for your cloud migration all in place, the next step is to implement the migration of your data and users to the new platform.