Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Derek Weeks, Mehdi Daoudi

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, @DXWorldExpo, SDN Journal, @DevOpsSummit

@CloudExpo: Article

Best Practices for Leveraging Cloud Technology for Business Growth

Start with small, low-risk applications that can be easily tested and improved through an iterative approach

As businesses look to leverage cloud technology to drive growth, many times the questions IT leaders within the company ask are: "Where do I start? What part of my infrastructure should I move into the cloud first?" IT leaders must pick a place to begin with cloud adoption. The decision becomes easier when teams focus on incremental adoption, starting with small, low-risk applications that can be easily tested and improved through an iterative approach before fully launching. Here are some best practices businesses should consider when getting started with cloud technology.

Identify the true problem and define a solution
The most effective method for getting started with cloud adoption is to identify the greatest pain point in a company's IT ecosystem. The cloud solution should be targeted and architected to ease that pain point. Often times identifying the biggest IT challenge requires a deep dive into the business and its IT systems. For example, NaviSite recently worked with a company in Syracuse, N.Y., to implement a technology solution to help solve its business challenges. The company's IT team perceived its infrastructure as the biggest challenge, and was eager to deploy a full Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution. However, as the IT team took a complete and objective inventory to understand their challenges at a very granular level, they came to realize that what the business truly needed was an enterprise-class file sharing solution designed to meet their specific challenges. As a result, instead of starting with a full-blown IaaS, the team began with a file sharing solution, and was able to immediately solve some of their business challenge with less investment. The key was understanding the challenge at the core, and implementing a cloud-based solution to solve that challenge.

As part of defining the problem when implementing cloud technologies, IT leaders should also define what a solution looks like. A useful exercise is identifying what the IT ecosystem looks like when the pain point is solved. That vision of the solution will guide the cloud team during implementation until it has achieved its vision of success.

Think of cloud adoption in terms of out tasking
When businesses and IT teams are determining where to begin with cloud adoption, it can be helpful to view the process as the migration of bite-sized, discrete pieces of an IT system onto the cloud. It is more about "out tasking" than out sourcing.

When defining and understanding out tasking, IT leaders can take a step back and look at cloud computing as a loosely integrated suite of complimentary services, such as IaaS, Software- as-a-Service (SaaS), Backup-as-a-Service (Baas), Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), etc. Building a cloud infrastructure to help a business grow, reduce costs and run more effectively is not a one time, all or nothing proposition. The most effective and low risk approach is to start with one solution to address one challenge. An IT leader is taking that problem, or ‘task', and solving it with a cloud solution. Once that solution is achieved, then an IT leader can take on a second challenge, or a broader area with high potential to drive efficiency, and out task that function of the IT system.

The approach of out-tasking lets each business and IT team strategically architect a cloud infrastructure that is highly customized to meet their unique business challenges. With the out-tasking approach, IT leaders can solve specific issues without needing to manage unnecessary aspects of a cloud infrastructure, and it avoids incurring costs for applications and infrastructure that is not being used. Out-tasking lets businesses solve pain points simply to begin driving value and seeing return on investment more quickly.

Unique solutions to solve unique problems
Take, for example, a large retail brand eager to solve its business challenges using cloud technology. The first step was identifying its pain points, which in this case involved a few different areas. First was managing a mobile, millennial and highly innovative and flexible workforce; the solution was implementing a virtual desktop infrastructure. The retailer tweaked and customized this solution so it met their needs. From there, the IT team identified a second pain point - the need to store and manage large image files for their design and branding work. Once that challenge was identified, the company expanded its cloud infrastructure to include storage so they could better store and manage their images and branding content.

From there, the retailer needed to ensure its systems had the resiliency in place so the files their teams stored and the virtual desktop their global workforce relied upon was secure and built to run through any disaster. The team was able to implement a disaster recovery plan architected to meet their unique needs using BaaS to ensure its global workforce would have uninterrupted access to their virtual desktops, and that the images stored and shared were secure according to the highest compliance and regulatory standards. This gave the global retailer the assurance it needed to continue to migrate increasingly larger workloads onto the cloud.

In this example, the business took an approach more aligned with out-tasking as opposed to a sweeping transition to an outsourced model. The team did not start moving into the cloud by turning their entire infrastructure over to a company with a 10 year contract. One of the benefits of cloud technology is that companies can choose one service to meet one need. Companies can apply that technology, evaluate the return, adjust course as needed, and move on to solve the next challenge. In the case of the global retailer, out-tasking allowed the team to grow accustomed to the new solutions, and for the technology to be absorbed by company culture to ease disruption.

Ultimately, the most important thing is simply that IT leaders take the first step in their company's cloud journey. Identifying the most significant pain points helps create a vision for moving ahead with solving one business challenge at a time. After determining where to start, teams can apply the out-tasking approach to refine their technologies, minimize risk, and arrive at a solution that truly solves a business challenge, drives growth and delivers value.

More Stories By Chris Patterson

Leveraging his technical background and consulting skills, Chris Patterson was a key player in building NaviSite’s cloud computing platform, NaviCloud, from the ground up and is responsible for overseeing its continual upgrades and improvement making sure it meets customers evolving needs from both a technical and business perspective. In addition he oversees the development and implementation teams for NaviSite’s Desktop-as-a-Service and NaviCloud Intelligent Storage solutions.

Prior to joining NaviSite, Patterson spent nine years at MTM technologies as the Director of Information Security Services, where he gained extensive experience developing and consulting on security policies in a variety of different industries including financial, retail, legal, health care, and public sector. Chris holds a Bachelors of Science in nuclear engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and currently lives in Delaware

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
As many know, the first generation of Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solutions were designed for managing virtual infrastructure (IaaS) and traditional applications. But that's no longer enough to satisfy evolving and complex business requirements. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, Embotics CTO, explored how next-generation CMPs ensure organizations can manage cloud-native and microservice-based application architectures, while also facilitating agile DevOps methodology. He expla...
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to close th...
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
Admiral Calcote - also known as Lee Calcote (@lcalcote) or the Ginger Geek to his friends - gave a presentation entitled Characterizing and Contrasting Container Orchestrators at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. Okay, he isn't really an admiral - nor does anyone call him that - but he used the title admiral to describe what container orchestrators do, relating it to an admiral directing a fleet of container ships. You could also say that they are like the conductor of an orchestra, directing...
The past few years have seen a huge increase in the amount of critical IT services that companies outsource to SaaS/IaaS/PaaS providers, be it security, storage, monitoring, or operations. Of course, along with any outsourcing to a service provider comes a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to ensure that the vendor is held financially responsible for any lapses in their service which affect the customer’s end users, and ultimately, their bottom line. SLAs can be very tricky to manage for a number ...
Our work, both with clients and with tools, has lead us to wonder how it is that organizations are handling compliance issues in the cloud. The big cloud vendors offer compliance for their infrastructure, but the shared responsibility model requires that you take certain steps to meet compliance requirements. Which lead us to start poking around a little more. We wanted to get a picture of what was available, and how it was being used. There is a lot of fluidity in this space, as in all things c...
Gaining visibility in today’s sprawling cloud infrastructure is complex and laborious, involving drilling down into tools offered by various cloud services providers. Enterprise IT organizations need smarter and effective tools at their disposal in order to address this pertinent problem. Gaining a 360 - degree view of the cloud costs requires collection and analysis of the cost data across all cloud infrastructures used inside an enterprise.
Some people are directors, managers, and administrators. Others are disrupters. Eddie Webb (@edwardawebb) is an IT Disrupter for Software Development Platforms at Liberty Mutual and was a presenter at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. His talk, Organically DevOps: Building Quality and Security into the Software Supply Chain at Liberty Mutual, looked at Liberty Mutual's transformation to Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and DevOps. For a large, heavily regulated industry, this task...
The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Microservices being modular these are faster to change and enables an evolutionary architecture where systems can change, as the business needs change. Microservices can scale elastically and by being service oriented can enable APIs natively. Microservices also reduce implementation and release cycle time and enables continuous delivery. This paper provides a logical overview of the Mi...
The notion of improving operational efficiency is conspicuously absent from the healthcare debate - neither Obamacare nor the newly proposed GOP plan discusses the impact that a step-function improvement in efficiency could have on access to healthcare (through more capacity), quality of healthcare services (through reduced wait times for patients) or cost (through better utilization of scarce, expensive assets).
Gone are the days when application development was the daunting task of the highly skilled developers backed with strong IT skills, low code application development has democratized app development and empowered a new generation of citizen developers. There was a time when app development was in the domain of people with complex coding and technical skills. We called these people by various names like programmers, coders, techies, and they usually worked in a world oblivious of the everyday pri...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
Some journey to cloud on a mission, others, a deadline. Change management is useful when migrating to public, private or hybrid cloud environments in either case. For most, stakeholder engagement peaks during the planning and post migration phases of a project. Legacy engagements are fairly direct: projects follow a linear progression of activities (the “waterfall” approach) – change managers and application coders work from the same functional and technical requirements. Enablement and develo...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
For DevOps teams, the concepts behind service-oriented architecture (SOA) are nothing new. A style of software design initially made popular in the 1990s, SOA was an alternative to a monolithic application; essentially a collection of coarse-grained components that communicated with each other. Communication would involve either simple data passing or two or more services coordinating some activity. SOA served as a valid approach to solving many architectural problems faced by businesses, as app...