Migrating to IaaS: Less Drudge Work, More Innovation

Kevin O'Connor

To shift IT budget dollars away from running a data center and toward higher value IT investments, more and more organizations are ramping up their move to consuming cloud-hosted Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

IaaS is growing faster than any other type of cloud service, according to Gartner. Many providers offer IaaS as part of a public cloud platform, where consumption is expected to grow nearly six times as fast as overall IT spending, according to IDC. The same growth in consumption of hybrid public/private cloud environments is likely to grow as organizations find ways to integrate cloud storage, dedicated compute, and combinations of the two to deliver critical workloads.

But many customers ask us if organizations are jumping to IaaS for other reasons. The answer is, “Yes.”

IT departments are under pressure to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve services and security. That’s hard to do when you’re saddled with the cost and overhead of maintaining a data center.

Modern IT staffs can do much more for the company if they can move on from fixing servers, running backups, maintaining networks, and responding to basic technology problems. They can step back and analyze the enterprise workload delivery as a whole and identify ways of delivering those workloads more efficiently and with greater effect and impact. They can find workflow bottlenecks and offer employees better tools to manage their daily interactions with customers, employees, and partners. Simply put, they can deliver business-enabling initiatives and innovation.

IaaS eliminates the capital expenses and operating expenses of running a data center. With IaaS, providers deliver the data center capacity – charging only for resources used. Like staffers’ time, that savings can be funneled back into growing the business.

Here are some important considerations to keep in mind when migrating to IaaS:

1. Figure Out What to Migrate

Not all workloads are suitable for IaaS. Analyze your systems and usage and conduct a workload audit. If you have seasonal spikes in demand that strain your infrastructure, an IaaS system solves the problem without blowing your budget to outfit your data center with infrequently consumed peak capacity. It’s also helpful if you’re growing, but not yet able to afford massive amounts of infrastructure or the staff to operate it. One of the modern IT concepts is of a bimodal infrastructure – one that operates your legacy infrastructure and one that propels your new infrastructure and emerging applications that drive your digital transformation – whether that be serving mobile users, integrating the Internet of Things (IoT) and sensor-based data sources, or building out a regionalized service delivery model that delivers high performance.

2. Choose the Right Provider

Before you approach vendors, try to calculate what your cloud use and costs will be. Compare SLAs as well as service costs. Vendors may look alike, but they impose differing levels of customer responsibility – Forrester calls it “the uneven handshake.” Decide on acceptable downtimes, and make sure you have a dedicated service level manager.

You also need to clearly review your compliance and security needs to ensure they can be served under the terms of the provider SLA. Most large providers are well-equipped to handle cyber threats and have the necessary cyber liability insurance, but ultimately, you are responsible for your data. Ask about audits, and make sure provider security measures are in sync with your policies. We’re regularly asked to provide advisory services to help our customers translate from on-premises policy to provider-delivered security provisions.

3. Keep On Tracking

Moving to IaaS eliminates on-site maintenance chores, but you still need to track use and spending to avoid cost overruns. If you use several vendors with different pricing plans, it’s easy for things to get out of hand. In the cloud, unused time is money out the window.

All in all, IaaS frees your IT team from drudge work and allows them to concentrate on the big picture: innovation and growing the business. If you haven’t modeled out how IaaS can integrate into your hybrid IT delivery model, we would encourage you to do so – and our Cloud Practice is here to help.