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Into the Cloud

 

The public cloud is no longer a blip on your IT radar. Powered by Category 5 winds of change, it now covers every corner of the IT horizon. In 2017 alone, the cloud grew by almost 40% – a phenomenal growth rate for any technology. By 2020, 60% of IT infrastructure and 70% of software and IT services spending will be in the cloud.

This means you must prioritize your move to the cloud to maintain your competitive edge. Our webinar poll revealed that three-quarters of participants were strategist cloud adoption. A quarter had plans to make investments in one to three years.

But migrating to the cloud is not a small undertaking, and spending on innovation is not cheap. Research shows that for every $1 you earmark for innovation, you will spend another $7 on execution. This is because your data centers are not modernized for cloud adoption, which means you must invest in new technologies. You must also train your teams to operate new systems.

In our webinar, we explain how you can solve these problems and move your IT infrastructure to the cloud with minimal expenditure. We break down the entire migration process into five easy stages that you can implement right now to begin cloud adoption.

Watch our “Five Stages of Cloud Adoption” webinar.

Stage 1 – Gap Analysis

Your journey towards successful cloud adoption begins with a Gap Analysis of your current IT systems. This will give you a detailed inventory of the applications, or production workloads, in your data centers. This information is crucial for generating a cost estimate and a preliminary budget for cloud adoption. A poll conducted during our webinar showed that more than 70% of participants had no idea how to create a cost estimate.

A Gap Analysis will also help you project the performance of your assets in the cloud. It will provide technology recommendations to you about functions that can only be executed in the cloud. This will help you discover new channels of productivity for your cross-functional teams.

Stage 2 – Get Moving

This is where you take your first test flight in the cloud and experience its functionality first-hand. You do this by replicating a single production workload to the cloud and deploying it via a best practices approach. This means you must build scripts, use management interfaces, and utilize Infrastructure as Code.

Your IT and cross-functional teams must monitor your workload continuously to understand its performance in the cloud. Your cross-functional teams should be made up of Security, Support, Financing, and Lines of Business. This gives your entire company the perspective it needs for cloud adoption.

After deployment, you must conduct an introspective review of the entire test flight. You should take note of the processes you used for deployment. You should also highlight the skill sets and tools you need for larger migrations. These steps will give your company a clear picture of the functions, elements, and tools required for success in the cloud.

Stage 3 – Plan

In this stage, you need to build a profile of all the applications running in your current environment. Make notes of the servers they’re running on, their system and support requirements, and their stakeholders. This process will allow you to map out the exact resources that your applications need to run.

This application profile is vital for successful cloud adoption, but a majority of companies do not maintain this list. A poll conducted during our webinar revealed that 67% of people did not know about their applications’ requirements. Another 17% had no catalog of their applications and users.

The profile will reveal how much of your data center’s resources are actually being used by your applications. In most cases, you will find your workloads are only utilizing 20% of available resources. It is only during brief periods that your servers operate at 100% capacity. This means you’re paying large amounts for unused resources.

You can correct this by provisioning applications in the cloud for nominal usage. You can then set up the cloud so that it allows for 100% demand during peak periods. This means you only pay for 100% performance when needed, resulting in great cost savings.

You should also analyze your applications for cloud compatibility during this stage. Find out if your application vendors support cloud adoption, and highlight any roadblocks. Identify applications that will not function in the cloud, and chalk out a plan to migrate with minimal disruption.

Stage 4 – Migrate

The first step in this stage is to build an application support infrastructure in the cloud. You must ensure that the cloud’s servers are configured to run your workloads, and that storage is available for your data. The network must also be set up to make the cloud an extension of your physical database.

You’re now all set for launch. The easiest way to begin migration is to automate deployment through scripts and templates. Scripts initiate a pre-programmed compute instance in the cloud. This configures workloads for deployment in line with your application profile. Templates, on the other hand, allow you to use the existing software in the cloud itself. This significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to deploy solutions.

This process is called Infrastructure as Code and will allow your IT team to deploy hundreds of applications in minutes. It will dramatically simplify cloud migration for your IT team and will enable all of your departments to seamlessly move to the cloud.

Stage 5 – Optimize

Now that your workloads have migrated to the cloud, you must begin constant optimization to ensure peak performance. Your applications will need to be monitored for efficiency, and resource usage will need to be adjusted for maximum productivity.

You must also keep your cloud spend in check. Over 75% of companies report exceeding their budget by at least 50% within one year of moving to the cloud. You can avoid such expenses by rightsizing your applications on a constant basis.

Rightsizing entails provisioning resources in line with the changing requirements of your applications. During peak periods, you should adjust your settings to provide more resources to applications. But as soon as your workloads return to original benchmarks, you should throttle back for maximum savings. This process can be entirely automated via Infrastructure as Code.

Optimization will also help you modernize your applications. The cloud grants you access to new updates that might not have been available to you otherwise. This will significantly help your business maintain its competitive edge.

These five stages will help your company move to the cloud seamlessly and within budget.

Remember that migrating to the cloud is not a small undertaking, and spending on innovation is not cheap.  

Find out more

Who Needs a Business Consultant

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The Road to Improvement is lined with challenges

  

Business consultants provide management consulting to help organizations improve performance and efficiency. These professionals analyze businesses and create solutions while also helping companies meet their goals. Business owners should consider hiring business consultants when they need help or perspective on their chosen path or need a catalyst for change in their companies.

What does a consultant do?

There are a number of reasons why business owners should consider hiring a management consultant:

· Expertise in a specific market

· Identify problems

· Supplement the existing staff

· Get the ball rolling on change

· Provide objectivity

· Teach and train employees

· Do the "dirty work," like eliminating staff

· Revive an organization

· Create a new business

· Influence other people, like lobbyists

The first step for any business consultant is the discovery phase, where the goal is to learn the client's business. A good business consultant takes the time to learn as much as possible about the business, from the owner and employees. This can include touring the facility, meeting with the board of directors and employees, analyzing the finances and reading all company materials. During this process, the business consultant will uncover the details of a company's mission and what operations are in place.

Once an in-depth understanding has been developed, a business consultant has entered the evaluation phase, where the goal is to identify where change is needed. This includes identifying the company's strengths and weaknesses, as well as current and foreseeable problems. These can include problems already seen by ownership and management, and new problems seen thanks to the business consultant's objectivity. A business consultant should also identify opportunities to grow business, increase profits, and boost efficiency. [Related: SWOT Analysis: Examples, Templates & Definition]

In addition to identifying these problems and opportunities, a business consultant should also develop solutions to problems and plans on capitalizing on opportunities. Perhaps a company has a particularly strong sales department but weak marketing department; this is an opportunity for the company to increase marketing resources and capitalize on the sales staff. During this phase, it's important for the consultant and the company's employees to maintain open and clear communications.

Constructive criticism

It's important for an owner to take the business consultant's advice at this stage as constructive criticism, and not as a criticism to how the owner has been doing things. The business consultant brings objectivity and a fresh viewpoint, whereas the owner is personally close to the business. The owner should certainly have feedback and provide opinions to the business consultant, who should take the owner's reflections and revise plans as necessary.

Once the owner and the consultant agree on a plan, the consultant should enter the third phase of consulting, which is the restructuring phase, or the implementation of the plan. In this phase, the consultant is to build on assets and eliminate liabilities, as well as monitoring progress on the plan and adjusting as needed.

Finding a consultant

Finding the right business consultant may be the most difficult part for the owner or management. The consultant should have a passion for their work, a drive for excellence, and an eye for organization and detail. It's important to find a consultant with expertise in your industry or with the kind of problems that your business faces. When hiring a consultant, make sure they have solid referrals and offer these skills.

Anyone can call themselves a consultant, but it takes a combination of many skills to make for a good business consultant. It's also important to make sure that they have any necessary certification, depending on your industry. You should vet the consultant through their website and materials. Look for professional images and well-documented information about their services. It's a good idea to request examples of past successes and to speak to those businesses.

Business consultants are not necessarily cheap. But the feedback and planning they provide can help increase business and boost profits in the long run, while also helping ensure future success by eliminating problems and identifying opportunities.


Consultant?

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