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How Cloud Assessments Illuminate Business Decisions Across Industries

CaaS? IaaS? DaaS? STaaS? There are so many buzzwords surrounding cloud solutions and yet these clever little phrases don’t seem to make it easier to determine what deployments really make sense for any given organization. While your Executive Management may be demanding a migration to the cloud, it all comes down to a CIO or IT Director like you to make smart recommendations on the exact solutions, timing and order of any cloud migration plan. After all, you have to consider budget, processing speed, backup policies, security procedures and more. And you’re the one that has to make sure the plan works over the long-term.

So, what’s an IT professional to do when pressure from above says go cloud? A solid first step is to learn from those that have gone before. Check out a couple of industry-specific case studies to see how they assessed their current state and made plans for cloud solutions.

A Case Study in Banking and Finance

The Client

Client A is a not-for-profit banking and financial cooperative in the state of Texas with more than 2,000 employees. As one of the largest credit unions in the United States, Client A has earned a solid reputation in customer service and financial expertise. It supports more than 500,000 members in its network across 50+ branches throughout the state. Client A possesses sophisticated IT systems with a primary data and disaster recovery center run by a highly knowledgeable and well-staffed department.

The Challenge

As a major banking and finance business, Client A must maintain a primary data center and a secondary disaster recovery data center, which requires major capital expenditure just to maintain their infrastructure needs. Understanding that cloud could potentially save them from continuing long-term capital expenditures, plus operational expenses of maintaining a co-location facility presented an appealing option.  Knowing they had to maintain 99.9% up time for more than half a million members, the logistical challenge of a migration plus uncertainty on efficacy gave them pause. With more than 470 servers working in near real-time with rapidly changing data, any solution presented needed to keep customer satisfaction at top priority. Low latency being key among satisfaction criteria in this highly transactional industry.

Why Cloud

The business case for Client A was two-fold. The primary improvement came in budgetary savings. By deferring a capital expense on their annual budget and migrating to a cloud data center solution, Client A would realize a major reduction in capital expense while being able to better budget for fluctuations in data capacity needs on an ongoing basis. The shift to cloud servers also presented an opportunity for Client A to reduce IT staff previously dedicated to server maintenance or reallocate them to other priorities within the organization.

Assessment

Utilizing a cloud infrastructure software assessment tool, we worked with Client A’s IT team to install the software and collect data from more than 470 servers to better understand the entire cloud journey. Through this process we were able to map dependencies to aid in migration planning and precisely track usage for capacity planning and budgeting. Once the data was collected, our cloud architects developed an assessment of the best configurations for their situation and TCO for switching to the cloud. Through this process, we uncovered critical vulnerabilities that would be exposed with a move to the cloud and therefore recommended several pre-migration steps to ensure data security prior to any move.

Recommendations

After a review of their current IT infrastructure and long-term goals for improving and expanding, we identified the following recommendations and options moving forward: 

  • Create off-site backups to one of the major cloud platforms using low cost Microsoft Azure BLOB storage for additional geo-redundancy
  • Work with Computer Solutions to architect a solution and migration strategy for future cloud installation
  • Design a disaster recovery plan for a cloud migration
  • Create a pretest and post-test procedure utilizing application performance management software tools for testing application performance before and after migrating to the cloud to ensure applications are performing as expected
  • Potentially move marketing web servers to the cloud and examine the possibility of replacing their workloads in the cloud

As part of our recommendations, we advised the migration of applications to a cloud provider needed to take careful and precise planning. It was imperative for Client A that we maintain a very small window of time in a move to keep their call centers and servers running with no interruption as well as preserve network connectivity for transaction processing and bandwidth.

A Case Study in Manufacturing and Distribution


The Client

Client B is a privately held, internationally award-winning craft beer brewer and distributer. It supports selection of top-quality products and a growing consumer base and following.

The Challenge

As a rapidly growing enterprise with a worldwide consumer base, Client B was quickly outpacing its existing IT department resources and needed to make a decision on an investment in additional infrastructure needs and staff. Before moving forward with a significant expense, they wanted to evaluate the advantages of a cloud migration.

Why Cloud

Supporting their current servers, managing applications, and maintenance was becoming untenable. Understanding that cloud could potentially alleviate their inundated staff and reduce overhead requirements, they had a good business case for exploring the possibility of leveraging cloud services. Moving workloads and applications to cloud offered an opportunity for lower overall cost, disaster recovery capabilities, and scalability to handle fluctuations in servers.

Assessment

Using Cloudamize, a leading cloud infrastructure analyzing software, we collaborated with Client B’s team to collect data from their 35 servers to better understand the entire infrastructure prior to a cloud migration. Through this process we were able to create a roadmap to support migration planning as our cloud architects produced an assessment of the best practices and steps moving forward. Through our Cloud Readiness Assessment, we discovered significant vulnerabilities that would potentially affect their business. As a result, we recommended a few pre-migration tasks to strengthen data security prior.

Recommendations

After a review of their IT infrastructure and long-term goals in relation to our assessment, we identified the following recommendations and options moving forward:

  • Create backups on the selected cloud platform offsite to improve storage reliability and reduce risk of data loss.
  • Work with Computer Solutions to resolve security issues before migrating to the cloud.

As part of our recommendations, we did not advise Client B to move forward with a cloud migration. We recommended architecting a cloud solution and strategy to ensure that their current infrastructure and environment was secure before migrating workloads. It is imperative that we limit and prevent inadvertent access to certain applications and database information that should not be public facing. We are still currently working with our client in a long-term strategy to better evaluate their security and get their IT department ready for a future cloud migration.

Our Cloud Readiness Assessments are built to help you identify and address issues that could potentially affect the performance or security of your technology. We want each and every client we see to implement best practices and have a strategy moving forward to increase the stability and productivity of their IT environment. So, before you take the leap to cloud make sure your systems are ready and able to make the migration.

Ready to assess the readiness of your technology for cloud? Schedule an assessment today.