In the hype of cloud technology trends, it is easy to get lost and not clearly understand the benefits of each of many options. In a nutshell, there is no perfect option, and one size does not fit all in this case. It is important to understand the options and how they can effectively add value to your business, to your reality and needs.
As opposed to hardware, cloud technology is also scalable, meaning you don’t need to invest in something today which will be useful 5 years from now. You can adapt your cloud investments based on your company's ambitions and growth objectives. This is your cloud migration strategy.
Investing in hardware normally requires a 3-5-year time horizon, sometimes imposing costs and capacities exceeding those resulting from the actual needs. The cloud model scalability allows the infrastructure to grow with your needs, with costs proportional to usage. Cloud virtual machines can be turned on and off, also reducing the recurring costs as per actual usage.
According to Gartner, a typical TCO shows an initial uptake in cloud costs and a steady decline as soon as organizations learn how to apply cost optimization best practices. It also shows how on-premise costs can have a long tail as organizations take time to actually shut down their data centers. In a typical three-year period, overall TCO can be reduced by 55% under a cloud migration path.
The Paths to the Cloud
To get to the cloud, many things are important to gather, in order to perfectly seize your current status and needs. Beyond that, it is important to see how the multiple cloud options can fit on this road map and help build your strategy.
Let’s first start with the options.
In a typical cloud migration, you can simply move your current systems and licenses to a cloud hosting environment, through a private or public cloud. By doing so, you will at least eliminate the need to invest in new hardware. This is what we call Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS. In that model, the service provider will maintain your server architecture in the cloud and be able to build the platform on virtual servers where your applications can reside.
If you are well versed in cloud technology, IaaS can be used as a self-service platform for you to directly engage with one of the hyperscalers (public cloud providers), build your architecture and maintain the servers. This requires you to keep managing the environment surrounding those servers, their architecture, their monitoring processing, and obviously the application layer. If you cannot manage the infrastructure layer by yourself, you have the option to work this model through a partner.
The next step is PaaS, or Platform as a Service. Most cloud providers can provide this service via partners like Createch. In this model, the partner will take care of the platform on the different servers, to make sure your systems are up and running with no issues, i.e., managing operational systems, databases and other components of your architecture that are essential to the applications.
Finally, on top of PaaS you have SaaS, or Software as a Service, which is the model where the service provider covers all layers, monitoring and managing all services, from infrastructure to applications. See Fig 1.
Fig. 1. Different Cloud Models
In all those different models, licenses for operational systems and databases are flexible and may be included or not. It can be advantageous to add those in the package and leverage negotiation. A Bring Your Own License (BYOL) model is also possible.
Before deciding which model to opt for, it is important to validate the following checklist:
Infrastructure –Is your existing hardware near end of life? Are your leases, warranties and support agreements near expiry?
Software licensing – Is it time to renew software enterprise agreements? Can you take advantage of more flexible subscriptions or service provider licensing models?
Can automation and management via the cloud free up IT staff?
Satellite on-premise systems – You can use additional servers and migrate data from software such as SharePoint, Outlook or other legacy, on-premise systems.
Mitigative measures – Disaster recovery, backup and high availability requirements
Note that the above conditions are good for your whole architecture, but if you have grounds for replacing an old on-premise ERP, maybe the original provider can offer a cloud version of it, which can require minimal change management and reap huge cost benefits. So, your migration to the cloud can include a migration of your current on-premise ERP to a SaaS model under subscription, and the inclusion of your satellite systems on a lighter cloud architecture.
Among the key benefits of migrating to the cloud are flexibility, scalability, enhanced security, the freeing up of IT resources to be reassigned to other value-added activities, and the opportunity to reduce costs.
Establishing a Migration Strategy
So, where do I start?
Of course, you can do business directly with service providers, like Amazon, Azure, Oracle, Google, etc. The problem is that they cannot necessarily be linked to your applications. They can help you create the architecture and offer services for you to build and manage the cloud infrastructure by yourself. But deep know-how about each application, for instance with ERPs like JD Edwards or SAP, will always come from an implementation company that is accustomed to being the bridge between particular implementation needs and the capabilities of each cloud service provider.
Createch can work with you as a one-stop shop. We can provide you with services to guide you through your journey, and help you determine the best route (should you keep your ERP in the cloud or migrate to a SaaS model), establish the best options from a cost-benefit perspective among key players such as Azure, AWS and Oracle, build your architecture, help you build your business case, establish and execute your migration plan.
Through its expertise, Createch can offer management services to take care of your architecture’s performance and integrity, and provide support to all levels, down to the applications. Thanks to our application know-how, we offer proper guidance when migrating your infrastructure while keeping an eye on the performance and operability of your applications in regard to your business processes. This application expertise is supported by a team of well-experienced consultants in multiple systems under multiple industry verticals such as distribution, manufacturing, professional services and construction. Training is also an important factor to consider since you may want to gradually take more and more ownership as you go.
The cloud can be a great experience or a source of headaches if you’re not properly guided and supported. You may feel overwhelmed by the options presented and the multiple scenarios to consider for a decision. All options may seem attractive, but qualified support from a partner like Createch can be much of a life saver and determinant in a sound and efficient cloud migration path. Contact us now!