Moving the Unmovable To the Cloud

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The number of companies moving services to the cloud is growing. More than four out of five organisations now use cloud based services, according to the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF). This is part of an ongoing steady increase from 48 per cent in 2010, to 61 per cent in 2013, to 78 per cent in 2014, and 84 per cent in 2015.

But while the cloud might be growing in popularity, businesses remain worried about this shift. Around 75 per cent of those surveyed by the CIF did not plan to move their entire IT estate to the cloud, due to their security concerns. 60 per cent cited data protection as the reason they wouldn't be moving all their IT to the cloud.  

In this blog post, we'll look at the main tools that make it feasible for you to move your 'unmovable' IT systems to the cloud.

Encryption in transit and at rest

The CIA currently stores data in the cloud. It's America's equivalent of MI6 and if it can trust the cloud with its secrets, there is no reason you can't too.

You just need to ensure you encrypt your data properly, both in transit and at rest.

Virtualisation

This segments computing resources, enabling you to protect your data and applications from being interfered with by other customers on the same cloud platform.

Private connections to your private cloud

Your cloud doesn’t have to be connected to the Internet.

Some providers (including ourselves) can give you a private connection between your offices and your cloud servers, one with no publicly available IP addresses.

Dedicated firewalls

Perhaps you want to allow access to your cloud servers via the internet, but only to certain users. A great option, when in the cloud, is to have a private firewall between 'the internet' and your cloud servers.

Most hosting providers have firewalls, but the main difference here is that YOU get to set the firewall rules.

You might decide that only people on your office's WAN can access the server or you might decide to restrict it to only those logged on to your corporate VPN.

Same country data centres

Some of the public cloud providers choose to host their UK clients' data in Ireland, which helps to support their tax avoidance strategy.

For legal purposes, it's often simpler to store your UK data in the UK. That way, you don't stray into foreign legal jurisdictions.

VMware vSphere

One of the challenges of shifting your legacy apps to the cloud is that the public cloud is largely Linux centric, whereas many business server apps are on Windows.

VMware offers the best set of tools for virtualising your existing servers, making it easy to shift your legacy apps to the cloud.

Legacy application options

One of the reasons companies are reluctant to move applications to the cloud is that those applications need to integrate with other legacy apps that are on-site.

One solution is to virtualise all the apps and move them all to the cloud together. Another is to replace those legacy apps, as part of the usual upgrade cycle, with more cloud-friendly alternatives.

Management education on Opex/Capex

Some managers often prefer to buy hardware (and software licenses) outright, rather than rent a hosted server. Often, they're unaware that there are continued software licensing costs and support contract costs, ie that buying outright doesn't eliminate on-going payments. Nor are they necessarily aware of the amount it costs to host, insure, house and maintain on-site servers.

A fuller understanding of the total cost of ownership can help reduce their reluctance to rent rather than buy.

Management education to turnaround the 'on-site is more secure' myth:

Some managers assume that it's safer to keep the company's data in the office, rather than in 'the cloud'.

If no encryption is used, this is true. However, if encryption is used appropriately, this 'on-site is safer' idea is misguided.

Physical security is far more robust in commercial data centres, out-of-hours monitoring is better there, and these purpose-built data centres have far more reliable electricity supplies with multiple power feeds and backup generators for contingency.

It's therefore important to educate management on the realities of the security benefits/drawbacks of on-site hosting.

Colocation

Just because you've invested in appliances or servers for your office doesn't mean those devices need to stay at your office forever.

It's often possible to move those devices to your cloud provider's data centre, where they can serve all your sites, instead of a single site.

Cost savings and service level improvements:

There are often a lot of benefits in moving parts of your IT setup to the cloud. There are also a few drawbacks.

If you use a sensible combination of the tools above, it's likely that the benefits will outweigh the costs.

You can never entirely eliminate the risks associated with migrating your key IT systems to the cloud, but you can mitigate those risk to such an extent that NOT moving to the cloud becomes the riskier option.

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