Cloud Connection: Seven Steps To Effective Public Cloud Services


Today, business adoption of cloud computing is on the rise and expected to increase. In fact, Gartner predicts the worldwide market for public cloud services will experience 100 percent growth by 2016, significantly outpacing overall IT spending. The emergence of a variety of cloud models, like IaaS, SaaS and PaaS, in addition to the array of deployment models, including public and private, is accounting for the cloud's shift from a complex technical solution to a true business enabler.

Furthermore, with the cloud market maturing, enterprises are building new IT environments where software and infrastructure are consumed as services and exist next to on-premise virtualized environments. These hybrid cloud solutions combine public and/or private clouds and on-premise IT and will become the new cloud reality for enterprises looking to benefit from the best of both worlds.

Today's reality is that building a hybrid infrastructure and subsequently connecting private and public clouds is challenging, particularly when different technologies and vendors come into play. For this reason, enterprises are increasingly looking to systems integrators, whose roles will transition from IT configuration managers to service-based cloud migration agents.

[Related: 5 Reasons Why Storage Is Leading In The Cloud]

Systems integrators will not only simplify the cloud deployment process for enterprises but also greatly benefit from the delivery of cloud computing to their customer base in order to maintain and grow a consistent revenue stream and achieve greater integration with customer business requirements. At the same time, system integrators will be tasked with difficult decisions, such as whether to build, buy or rent the underlying platform on which to build a hybrid cloud solution.

However, before reaping the benefits of a hybrid cloud, enterprises -- with or without the help of systems integrators -- must go back to the basics and carry out a series of tasks that will ensure they have a proper cloud connection in place.

NEXT: Seven Steps For Cloud MigrationTo achieve an adaptable cloud model for business growth, systems integrators should institute the following seven steps as part of their cloud migration service:

1. Firstly, prepare virtual machine instances (VMIs), which will be the quickest way for a customer to get started in the cloud.

2. Then, load applications in the cloud in order to eliminate the overheads of software maintenance, management and support associated with running the applications locally. Additionally, enterprises should upgrade software to the cloud version of their applications, rather than simply migrating applications that are "cloud-unfriendly."

3. Upload data. To decrease the amount of time required to transfer data, customers could run logic and processing in the cloud and leave the database in the data center. If the customer cannot upload the data, there needs to be a mechanism whereby they can ship a disk or tape, which can be loaded for them.

4. Establish the right form of connectivity. When gathering information about the workloads that will be transferred to the cloud, one should also gather data about the bandwidth required by the application. This will guide a decision whether to use the public Internet or dedicated leased line connectivity.

5. It is also necessary to deploy federated management and logon systems in order to maintain proper access controls and compliance in the cloud. Where available, these should be installed with the first VMI, which will help ensure that, as other VMIs are created, they are picked up by the management tools. The federated logon process will ensure that access controls are in place from the first VMI.

6. In order to fully realize the promise of the cloud, implement security. Firewall security should be a part of all the pre-prepared VMIs with all ports locked down by default, and customers should be encouraged to use and synchronize the firewalls across all of the VMIs. Additionally, access to other security tools like intrusion detection and prevention systems will allow security to constantly be checked, and it can also be sold as a service.

7. Finally, implement disaster recovery services in the cloud to reduce the risk of business interruption. However, since there is always the risk of disruption on-premise and in the cloud, customers should deploy a hybrid model in which synchronous storage technologies write the data to both the cloud and on-premise storage solutions.

The benefits of a hybrid approach will create more diverse and heterogeneous cloud environments. A hybrid cloud environment allows enterprises to keep sensitive data that needs a high level of security in a private cloud infrastructure, while at the same time leveraging the public cloud when there is a need to take advantage of its scalability. In this case, cloud testing environments such as Cloud Test Labs would be ideal for systems integrators and enterprises looking to build hybrid clouds and test them in a carrier-neutral data center before launching their cloud services.

A successful hybrid cloud, which is the result of the public cloud working in sync with on-premise environments, will quickly become an IT standard. Particular elements will make this model attainable, including a properly laid infrastructure in a carrier-neutral colocation facility, coupled with carefully examined operations and performance metrics. Enterprises may not have the resources and skills to develop their own cloud environment or even perform the integration, which is why they frequently rely on trusted IT partners. For a systems integrator to become a cloud migration agent, it is crucial to simplify the cloud migration and allow enterprises to seamlessly grow into the cloud. And, by following the steps laid out above, systems integrators will have the opportunity to deliver an adaptable cloud deployment that will enhance their relationships with their customers and create new revenue opportunities.

Jelle Frank van der Zwet is the Cloud Segment Marketing Manager for Interxion.

PUBLISHED JAN. 25, 2013