A Practical Approach for On-Ramping to the Cloud

For the past several years, it seems like each new year brings plenty of predictions heralding the “year of the cloud.” Initially, the forecast seemed to call for endless, massive adoption of public clouds by SMBs followed by a secondary surge in the use of private clouds by larger enterprises.

Last month, I joined several of my Dell colleagues in sharing our outlook for 2016 in the 8th annual VM Blog prediction series. Not only did I foretell a dramatic increase in the number of cloud and hybrid cloud deployments in 2016, I also identified the biggest roadblock: managing newly minted cloud architectures.

The cloud is a very attractive idea that includes:

  • Moving capital expenses to a subscription-based operating expense, including pay-as-you-go
  • Simplifying IT tasks, including deployment, scaling, and chargebacks
  • Eliminating the constant patching and software upgrade cycles that rob administrators of their precious time
  • Reducing the complexity and cost of disaster recovery

However, there are several things to consider.  Migrating to the cloud can be a big lift.  You want to make sure you can migrate without significant downtime or degradation in services and performance.  It’s also crucial to understand that moving to the cloud is only part of the journey.  Once there, you need to manage applications, workloads and business critical information across multiple infrastructures securely, effectively and efficiently. That’s why I continually advocate the use of tools that can reduce complexity while making it easier for companies to build seamless on-ramps to new cloud architectures.

These tools go hand-in-hand with best practices for easing transitions to the cloud. For example, it’s critical to plot your migration before making the move. It doesn’t matter whether you’re migrating to a new cloud or simply upgrading to the latest collaboration and communications platform in preparation for a wider scale cloud deployment down the road. Either way, you need to identify and troubleshoot compatibility issues, potential performance problems and security risks as early in the process as possible.

Equally important is being able to monitor performance and infrastructure between your local IT resources and the cloud. Sure, the cloud will provide a great opportunity to offload local hardware and software, but you still need to have clear visibility into what’s happening in your environments so you can find and remove bottlenecks, safeguard mission-critical databases as well as set up, manage and optimize virtual machines and containers across your environment.

Also, the familiar idiom, “look before you leap,” has special meaning in cloud migrations as you need to monitor each step to stay in compliance with your governance requirements and reduce risks.

We recognize the importance of empowering customers with tools for migrating, managing, and auditing. This includes solutions for assessing your current infrastructure before you even embark on the migration, as well as conducting the migration with zero impact to the end users. To accomplish this, you need to monitor migration progress closely and identify and eliminate issues or bottlenecks while protecting vital Active Directory environments between local and cloud-based solutions.

To reinforce this commitment, Dell Software announced in December the first-to-market Active Directory Backup and Recovery solution for Azure Cloud Environments. This tool gives customers unmatched control over hybrid AD management by giving IT the power to easily restore unwanted AD changes before they can impact the business. In doing so, we’re removing a big barrier to moving to the cloud while giving customers an opportunity to reap the most value from their Azure environments. Simply put, that’s the essence of our pragmatic approach for building better on-ramps to the cloud.

We also recently announced enhanced replication and disaster recovery capabilities with our Rapid Recovery software that will allow customers to replicate or migrate between on premises and Microsoft Azure.  Customers can utilize their on premises backup and recovery solution and seamlessly replicate to Azure where they can recover, or transition their application into the cloud.

And once they’ve made the move, companies need to optimize the total experience spanning software, virtualized environments, databases, backup and recovery, security and all other things cloud. In a lot of ways, cloud today parallels what we saw with the emergence of virtualization more than a decade ago—but it’s happening in a much more compressed timeframe.

The good news is that Dell was at the forefront of virtualization and has been in lockstep with our customers and partners in developing solutions to optimize cloud opportunities. So, while I predict that 2016 will be the year of the hybrid cloud, I also see Dell continuing to lead the charge in helping organizations lower the barriers to adoption with our pragmatic approach and practical solutions in helping them on-ramp to the cloud.

About the Author: Brett Roscoe