The public cloud is on the rise. According to the RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud survey, a staggering 91 percent of cloud users rely on at least some level of public cloud services. In addition, 31 percent of enterprise-level respondents said that in 2019, the public cloud was their number-one priority.
If your organization is planning a move to the public cloud, there are several best practices that you should follow throughout the process. From planning migration to optimizing costs, here are a few considerations you should make when adopting the public cloud at your organization:
1. Know what you should move to the cloud.
Not all of your organization’s IT resources are fit for migration to the public cloud. While cloud security may be advancing swiftly, there are still certain applications with information that is too sensitive to migrate to a cloud environment. When deciding what to move to the cloud and what to keep on the premises, you should, therefore, sort them based on risk.
Any information that is already available to the public or that you’ve otherwise classified as non-sensitive should fall into the low-risk tier. This data can go to the cloud with few additional security provisions in place. The medium-risk tier should include apps that handle enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other key business management functions. You can move these platforms to the public cloud, but only after taking extra security measures. Any apps that you designate as high-risk—such as those that include client financial data or information about proprietary technologies—should always remain on the premises.
2. Prepare your organization for the move.
The cloud is entirely different from on-premises IT, so you will need to prepare your organization accordingly before jumping in with migration. This process should begin with licensing. As you transition your software to the cloud, you should determine whether these same platforms are licensed for use in a cloud environment. With certain pieces of software, it may be illegal to operate them in the cloud without the right license. As such, you should seek to incorporate new software licenses that are native to the public cloud.
Preparing your organization for public cloud migration should also involve employee training. The cloud requires more than just a change in company culture; it requires your staff to work within an entirely new IT system. Therefore, you should give your employees as much hands-on experience with the public cloud as you can prior to migration. Where necessary, you should also help your team members pursue cloud certification. Altogether, these steps will make cloud adoption much easier for your entire team.
3. Avoid vendor lock-in wherever possible.
Vendor lock-in is a very real possibility for those who rely on public cloud services. This situation arises when your organization becomes dependent on a certain vendor’s cloud solutions. In these cases, switching to another provider can be difficult and costly, if not impossible.
As you prepare to migrate to the public cloud, you should take steps early on to mitigate the risk of vendor lock-in. First, you should never agree to a cloud contract without first outlining your exit and entry strategy with your vendor. Ensure that your contract includes provisions for the termination of services. Beware of any providers that put an auto-renewal clause in their contract unless you are ready to stay with them for the long haul.
Second, you should design your apps with portability in mind. Doing so will make it easier for your team to decouple your resources from your vendor’s infrastructure should you decide to end your services and move to another provider.
4. Monitor costs.
While the cloud is affordable, costs can begin to skyrocket without the right governance. As such, you should put cost monitoring policies in place as early on in the adoption process as possible. One of the easiest ways to limit cloud spending is to restrict the number of instances that your users can create. This will result in fewer wasted instances and less spending overall.
Your organization can also monitor its cloud costs more easily by pursuing non-traditional hosting methods. Containerization is one of the most cost-effective of all these strategies because it allows you to create stacks within single large instances instead of relying on many disparate instances.
5. Develop an effective security strategy
Security remains one of the biggest challenges among cloud adopters at both the enterprise and SMB level, according to RightScale. While your public cloud vendor will bear some of the security burden, much of the responsibility will fall on your organization’s shoulders. To this end, you will need to develop your own security measures to ensure the safety of your public cloud resources.
Cloud security doesn’t have to be daunting. Your organization can leverage a number of simple tactics to protect your data and apps in the cloud. For example, encryption can keep outsiders from gaining access to your sensitive data. By encrypting your information, only those with the keys can access those files.
Access management is another tactic that you can use to enhance cloud security. Your organization should not only provide users with access to resources based on their roles, but should also require them to log in using more than one authentication factor. This creates an extra level of security between would-be attackers and your organization’s most sensitive information.