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Take Your Cloud Strategy to the Next Level By @JmkGill | @CloudExpo #Cloud

Taking advantage of applications in the public cloud can further reduce costs while ensuring agility

Four Things a Company Can Do to Take Their Cloud Strategy to the Next Level

Many organizations' virtualization strategies begin and end with deploying VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V to virtualize as many servers as possible. But there's so much more that an enterprise can do to extend the benefits of virtualization. In addition to virtualizing, a workflow-based management overlay can minimize operational costs while ensuring assets are fully utilized. Furthermore, taking advantage of applications in the public cloud can further reduce costs while ensuring agility and on-demand resources to meet changing business requirements. Here are four ways an enterprise can improve its overall cloud strategy:

1. Deploy a Second Hypervisor if it Makes Sense
According to Gartner, many organizations are deploying a second hypervisor and some are even going to three or more to reduce costs and increase the value of IT. When deployed correctly, there are several use cases that make sense and can give organizations an advantage in reducing costs, improving disaster recovery and allowing certain testing and development.

The one thing organizations need to watch out for is not to get too overzealous trying all kinds of hypervisors. The key is to start small - try out one new hypervisor for one use case. As organizations can demonstrate success, expand that same hypervisor to all secondary use cases. Once the IT team has a good degree of comfort with the second hypervisor, then try a third.

2. Empower the Business with a Self-Service Portal
Portals were once thought to be only necessary or useful in larger organizations, but that is no longer the case. Today, many organizations are stretched thin on resources no matter the size, and a self-service portal can alleviate considerable burden from IT, while empowering the organization to ensure their IT needs are met. Some examples as to how a self-service portal can help some smaller organizations include:

  • Training: Provide clear online training on the key use cases of the self-service portal. Yes, this will take time, but if an organization records the training, that only has to be done once and then it is available to all other members of the organization.
  • On-Demand Reference: Quick reference guides are also necessary to ensure ongoing use. Remember, not everyone is versed in IT and knows the portal as well as the IT team. Refreshers will save time from Help Desk calls and free up IT to work on other projects.

Be sure not to confuse self-service with a "set-it-and-forget-it" approach. The portal will need ongoing maintenance and management. To further increase usability, be sure to include end-users in the design process or the portal selection process.

3. Try the Public Cloud - It's Cheap, Flexible and Can Really Help in a Pinch
Sometimes organizations need more resources and they need them right now. Waiting on new hardware to arrive isn't always an option and repurposing the test and development environment can result in chaos and anarchy within the application team. Public cloud resources are a great option. Resources are available almost on-demand, just provide a credit card and an organization can be off and running.

Public clouds aren't just for cloud bursting as it has other great ways it can be used, including test and development, production environments and disaster recovery. Public clouds can also be used for other specific needs which can include:

  • Consolidating Assets: Reduce the datacenter footprint even more by moving just test and dev to the public cloud.
  • Fast Migrations: Use the cloud for short, high-activity times like retailers around Christmas time or travel-related businesses in the summer.

If an organization's use case for cloud is temporary, be sure to stay temporary. Have an end date in mind with a plan to migrate data and applications out of the cloud.

4. Trial Software-as-a-Service for a Non-Critical Application
There are many applications that organizations already use that they can consume as Software-as-a-Service. This can help dramatically lighten the load on an IT team, especially with software that everyone uses, like email and document management. SaaS for these common core type activities enables IT to focus on the more intensive and creative aspects of IT, which usually result in higher ROIs for the business. When used correctly, SaaS can be a vital difference maker for an organization and can have the following benefits:

  • Reduce the burden on IT by outsourcing common use applications like email.
  • Replace costly infrastructure and ongoing management and maintenance costs with a predictable monthly cost.
  • Ensure the organization has access to the latest and greatest feature set as SaaS providers implement new features and functions faster than IT can.
  • Easily add new employees and deliver a consistent working environment with minimal effort.

As the SaaS provider manages their own infrastructure, be sure to fully investigate the availability, backup and DR strategy. This can entail confirming there is a high availability in place, ensuring that a clear data recovery plan is established and having everyone in the organization be aware of the frequency in which it performs backups.

When a company relies on SaaS, they have to ensure it is protected in a manner that aligns with their SLAs and what their organization expects in terms of availability.

As with anything that requires change for improvement, an organization should always make sure that these ways to improve cloud strategy are the right move for them. If you virtualized, you are off to a great start, but don't stop there. There are several opportunities to extend your vision of the cloud. It may seem complex to manage an environment that is this diverse, but it isn't. There are solutions that make it easy to leverage the hybrid cloud effectively, whether it is a mixed hypervisor environment, use of the public cloud or SaaS. The key is being aware of these solutions and taking the proper actions to take your organization's cloud strategy to the next level.

More Stories By Jennifer Gill

Jennifer Gill is the Director of Product Marketing at Zerto. She has more than 15 years of experience marketing high-tech products and solutions across a variety of industries with proven expertise in enterprise storage, virtualization and disaster recovery/business continuity (DR/BC). She currently leads Zerto’s messaging and product content strategy to increase awareness of Zerto Virtual Replication. Additionally, she leads Zerto’s customer satisfaction and reference program to deliver access to real customer stories and best practices as they relate to BC/DR strategies.

Previously, Jennifer held several management positions at EMC in the Solutions Marketing Group and played a key role in the launch of VCE, for which she was named a finalist for the John Howard Common Sense Award. She has a BS in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University and an MBA in Marketing and Leadership from the Goizueta School of Business at Emory University.

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