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Journey to the cloud: 4 steps to successful cloud adoption

As organisations increasingly explore the benefits of moving to the cloud, more questions and concerns arise, such as; how much they’re spending or want to spend, what resources there are in place to manage the cloud, whether they’re using the right provider…the list goes on. Building a cloud environment is not easy and it’s important that organisations develop a strategy to implement a successful cloud environment. We have put together 4 steps to successful cloud adoption to help you on your journey…

1. Assess – your workloads

Assessing workloads before moving to the cloud is key, it’s important to understand which workloads you want to move, the ones you don’t and why. Examples of workloads are; business applications, email servers, SaaS services, external/internal websites, firewalls and FTP servers. When it comes to assessing workloads, there are certain things that businesses like to keep in house and certain things that they must have in house, the interesting part is driving out where the crossover lies between the two.

Business application workloads (as opposed to infrastructure services) form the bulk of a company’s servers. Some of these workloads are independent while others are interlocked with add-on applications. It is essential to migrate all the add-on applications together, which are heavily dependent on the primary application.

2. Plan – what you’re going to do with these workloads

You’ve worked out what you’ve got and what its status is, the next step is to understand where you need to take it. If there’s a consideration about buying more premise-based equipment at this stage, you really need to question the reasoning for this. These days, businesses are gravitating towards a full move to the cloud, unless there’s a damn good reason against it.

However, it might be that certain workloads aren’t the right fit for the cloud. Let’s take firewalls for example, the questions you would need to ask here are:  how many have we got, where are they, how old are they, who are the manufacturers, what sort of condition are they in, how reliable are they, what’s the support situation, is there any reason for changing and if so what’s the reason – if, for example, they’re difficult to manage.

Having a strategy in place for all your essential systems and understanding where they currently are and where you want them to go is important, for example, whether workloads are moving to the private cloud or staying on premise or are you perhaps going to have a hybrid situation?

3. Decide – what service you want

Now it’s time to draw a line in terms of what you do and don’t want to do with your premises kit so you can work out what changes need to be made before you move to the cloud. If the overarching reason is that you want your IT resource to focus on the business-critical stuff, which is the data, the customer relationship stuff and customer reporting as opposed to operating systems, bits of electronics and power supplies. This helps you decide what sort of provider you want and then how you are going to use it, what you’re going to do with it and what sort of workload you’re going to put on it, because that determines what type of contract you want.

There are different ways that you can do this, it’s not a case of you either do cloud or you don’t do cloud, for example, you could perhaps go for something more specific: managed, maintained, bespoke or templated, short term, long term or an amalgamation of all of these, dependent on what your service provider offers.

4. Choose – a cloud provider

Choosing what service you want will help you decide what type of provider you need. It’s important to decide who you’re going to work with and what the criteria is going to be. It’s highly likely that it’s going to be a provider that’s going to come and sit down with you and offers a consultative approach, is UK-based, understands your market, is there to speak to you at all times and is accessible at all levels. If you’ve got a big issue and you want to talk to a senior manager then you can, it’s not a faceless operation that manages its customers via templated Q&A on its website.

If you recognise some of the above criteria as being important to you, then this is where we can help.  Intercity is an established UK provider of managed services to commercial businesses and the public sector. Our services make up part of the critical UK infrastructure, including life-critical emergency service. A consultative approach is key to how we engage with our customers, so we gain a thorough understanding of the issues they need to address and deliver cloud services which meet and in many cases exceed their expectations.

We are currently offering a complimentary cloud audit – why not take advantage of this and see how we can help you on your journey to the cloud…

 

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Journey to the Cloud: key things you need to know about data sovereignty

Cloud-based services can offer organisations significant value. From a cost, maintenance and deployment standpoint, the cloud can deliver applications and data to help organisations move faster and be more competitive.  However, headaches can start when it comes to data, more specifically, where it’s housed and who is looking after it. Even more so now with the incoming GDPR legislation looming. If this isn’t something you’ve given much thought, we would suggest that you need to – and soon.

We’re not suggesting delaying, let alone cancelling cloud migration efforts, but instead making a closer examination of key considerations at the outset.  In particular: where your data will reside, what’s in the small print, and whether your cloud services provider is transparent.

Increasingly we’re seeing pressure put on companies to make data available for ‘security’ reasons, so it’s important that organisations aren’t storing data in countries where such pressure is being applied perhaps unreasonably. For example, if you use webmail provided by an international service provider, your data is held under the jurisdiction where that provider is based.

While we understand that for security reasons, data might be made available for a particular reason, such as suspected criminal activity, we have also seen recently the US government demanding 1.3M IP addresses of visitors to the anti-Trump protest website disruptj20.org. Whether just visiting such a site could be deemed as ‘criminal activity’ is up for debate, but nevertheless, the alleged ‘disruptive’ aspect of the site gave cause for the US government to go to the ISP and demand visitors’ data.  If that data is made available, then how is it going to be used and what’s the risk that it will leak out?

Essentially, if you’re not sure about whether you want your data to be on servers that are under someone else’s legislation, then it’s critical that you ask your provider how and where they intend to store your data. More importantly, you need to be sure that you trust that they are being transparent when it comes to providing the answer.

When it comes to data and where it’s housed, ownership is everything. If your service provider doesn’t have ownership of where your data is stored, then you seriously need to question this. At Intercity Technology, we have 100% ownership of our data centres and we are strict about where data is being held.  Even if presented with a more convenient way of hosting data we wouldn’t sacrifice what we stand by, but that’s a more difficult promise to make for service providers who are using third parties. You need to work with a service provider that understands your concerns around data and meets your needs, not one that expects you to like it or lump it, meaning that you sacrifice what you really require.

If you think about it like this – if you’re a tenant you haven’t got control, you have to ask permission before you can do anything, but when you’re a homeowner you can do what you like as your property is 100% yours and in your control. Similarly, once you have given your data to a service provider that doesn’t own its data centre you’re separated from the people who are physically hosting it.  You’re relying on your service provider to make sure everything runs smoothly, which should be the case for most of the time, but what if they can’t do this because they have limited control and what if something does go wrong? This is when we come back to the all-important question for your cloud service provider; can you really promise me my data won’t leave the UK?

With the upcoming GDPR law coming into place in May 2018, if your data is already outside of the UK you’ve got to ask yourself what will happen if something goes wrong. For example, TalkTalk was fined £100k after the data records of 21,000 people were exposed to fraudsters in an Indian call centre. As Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said “TalkTalk should have known better and they should have put their customers first.” TalkTalk’s subsequent decision to withdraw all customer service operations from India indicates how serious an issue this was for them and their customers.

The point is this – if you take the risk when it comes to your data, particularly that of your customers and it goes wrong then it could have drastic consequences, so ultimately, you’ve got to ask yourself – are you feeling lucky?

If this blog has helped you understand the importance of data sovereignty and you want to explore it in more detail then why not take advantage of our complimentary cloud audit and let us support you on your journey to the cloud…