My submission for MacBook Air Contest: How Do You Move Applications to the Cloud?

If you like it, please “Like it” :p
And you too can write your take on moving tech to the cloud.

You can find it here: http://www.readwriteweb.com/cloud/2011/03/the-road-to-the-cloud-how-do-y.php#comment-161898196

Contrary to popular perceptions, implementing cloud for the enterprise has to be a planned and carefully executed exercise. In fact even migrating from your locally hosted email and collaboration suite to Google Apps could turn out to be a flop if you dont have the necessary variables sorted out.

Some basic and necessary steps towards a successful move towards cloud

1. User interest, education and participation
2. Policies and Priorities sorted out with the management and legal teams
3. A good understanding of the SLAs and guarantees from the service provider.
4. Access to data backups and ease of transferring them off-cloud. (You never know when you may need them)
5. Sufficient thought and planning into Plan-B and Cs.

Once the plans are through, provisioning and migrating to the cloud is the easiest part. (That’s what makes the cloud The Cloud). Say migrating to Dropbox!

The most difficult part is the user education and satisfaction. With most enterprise deployments you have a service rep handy to resolve any user queries or to fix/customize software issues. But with most of the cloud services, “What you see is what you got!”. Your users satisfaction is your most precious partner. But as veteran IT professionals can vouch, users can be a pain too.

IMHO, ensure that the users know what they are getting into before signing the dots.

Then comes the maintenance and the management. In my experience, the management wants reports on every single variable in the system. (Eg. How many people were actively using the CRM from home between 1400 to 1800 hours last sunday? Eeks! For an Unix admin, it could be a one liner in sed/awk, but you’re dependent on the cloud app now 🙂

Make sure your management knows the capabilities and the limitations of the cloud based service in advance.

Now, when the system has been adopted in full swing, what happens when there is a downtime? Of course systems have been down right through the ages and nobody expects anything better from cloud based services (but for an improvement in performance and minimum downtime). But with the app in the cloud, you do not know the variables that have gone wrong, you do not know what is the ETA for the system to get up, you do not know if somebody with a malicious intent has gotten into the system, you do however know that you are the fall guy for the users!

So, it’s absolutely essential that you keep the app provider on her toes and keep you updated on the goings on in the data center or the underground garage.

If by chance the provider has totally lost it and is unable to bring your access to the app back, time to switch to the Plan B and Cs. You surely remembered to negotiate the backup plan with the provider right? And you have the latest tarred backup (from yesterday midnight) safely tucked away in another cloud based storage provider some half way across the planet, right?

Now you can put on your superhero costume and get the data to their respective users and start looking for yet another app provider!

Remember the only difference between the CLOUD and a complete CLOD is U!

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