Journey to the Cloud: What IT Leaders Need to Know (and Avoid)

By: Brad Bell, Chief Information Officer at Infoblox

Migrating to the cloud is a strategic move for organizations today. The benefits are ripe, allowing organizations to cut costs on hardware, increase the scalability and reliability of applications and shift focus to delivering new offerings to market. However, despite this, few truly understand the implications of what a cloud migration truly entails.

Before joining Infoblox as CIO, I was responsible for modernizing Microsoft infrastructure to be cloud ready, retiring the legacy data centres and migrating Business Applications to Azure -- a role that taught me many invaluable lessons along the way. This process (among many others) allowed me to define a guiding set of principles and strategies for IT leaders who are currently in the process of, or just beginning the cloud migration.   

Determine the Right Path (and Cloud) Forward
IT leaders need to determine which cloud migration strategy best fits their enterprise’s needs and make the transition with a careful approach. Not only do teams need to be wary of choosing the right type of cloud, but they also need to decipher which data and applications should be transferred from an on-premise datacentre. Public clouds, along with its servers and storage, are owned by a third-party system, while private clouds allow all computing servers to be stored in an organization’s on-premise centre, including infrastructure storage on a private network.

Hybrid clouds offer the best of both worlds, allowing data and applications to be transferred easily from a public to private cloud (and vice versa). These platforms typically provide the most amount of flexibility to adapt best to an organization’s needs or evolving workload. A hybrid cloud approach also provides an added layer of security that public cloud platforms do not have.

However, different applications often require different cloud needs. If an application requires a greater amount of resources, a public cloud strategy may be the best option for the ability to scale resources up or down as needed. On the other hand, applications containing more sensitive data may be a better fit for a private or hybrid cloud, where organizations have more control over their networks.

Consider Network and Security Implications
When data and applications are transitioned to the cloud, enterprises need to be increasingly wary of security implications and cyber threats that could affect their networks and infrastructure. If using a public cloud, it’s important to understand how the platform secures its network. Companies need to ensure that their data governance policies are solidified and compatible with a cloud migration strategy, especially as technology (and cyber threats) continues to evolve.

From the newly instated GDPR to the expected rise in IoT device connectivity, ensuring that company and customer data are protected is key. In fact, a survey issued from Infoblox revealed that 33 percent of organizations have more than 1,000 shadow IoT devices connected to their networks every day (scary, right?), highlighting the need for IT leaders to implement effective workplace policies and practices to protect their network and employees from the threat of unsecured devices.

The Benefits of Migrating to the Cloud
Moving to the cloud ensures that your business can save money that would have otherwise been spent on hardware, while also making the most of scalability and reliability. Companies or organizations experiencing increased traffic or growth may find that they are struggling to keep up. A move to the cloud ensures that organizations can scale resources while meeting growing demand. In addition, shifting data and applications to the cloud not only reduces operational cost, but also makes it easier to keep up with storage needs with “pay-as-you-go” computing, allowing organizations to only use the storage they really need.

Cloud migration can be incredibly beneficial — cloud-based solutions are cost-efficient, flexible enough to allow organizations to keep their fluctuating business needs in check and even serve as a disaster recovery system at times. As with any business decision, IT leaders should determine the appropriate strategy for their business needs with clear goals in mind before executing a transition.