WHITEPAPER - 5 thoughts - getting your network ready for the Cloud
Network Manager's guide to migrating to the cloud
The world is moving
to the Cloud
Is your network ready for the journey?
Today more and more of us are embracing the Cloud. What was, even a few years ago, still a slightly nervous and reticent journey towards cloud hosting and infrastructure has become an accelerating interest, from a wide range of industries and sectors, both private and public.
However, the Cloud doesn’t exist in a vacuum. For organisations to extract the maximum value from their cloud investment, they need to look closely at their network.
Is it ready to deliver the fast, effortless and reliable connectivity between cloud and end user that is essential for businesses to do what they want to do in the cloud, and for staff to adopt it with the willing enthusiasm that will help drive the business forward.
But first, what’s spurred this increased adoption, and why should organisations be looking at the advantages a move to the Cloud can bring them?
Agility rises, costs fall
The business benefits have become increasingly clear over recent years. The Cloud is about agility, flexibility, collaboration, productivity – and cost saving.
Before the Cloud, most networking infrastructure investments were spent on ensuring available, reliable and high performance connectivity to on-premise data centres.
There was the on-going expense of supporting the services, plus considerable energy bills to keep the whole operation running 24/7.
Other costs included the physical space itself, 24/7 maintenance, planning for obsolescence and training technical staff.
And any one of these items could increase suddenly with company growth or a spike in customer activity fuelled by a new product or service.
CAPEX is reduced –
a boon for the
Many businesses have significantly reduced CAPEX by shifting infrastructure investments from on-premise data centres to cloud-hosted data centres.
This has been of particular value to public sector organisations where CAPEX has been slashed and shrinking OPEX budgets are driving organisations to adopt utility models.
It also fits with the Government’s ‘Cloud First’ policy, where all local government agencies are expected to consider and fully evaluate potential cloud solutions for all technology decisions.
Having new and migrated productivity and IT workloads running in the Cloud can provide tremendous value to organisations by delivering cost-effective access to a comprehensive range of innovative business services and applications.
Helping your teams do more and share ideas faster
But apart from the cost saving benefits, the Cloud can also be a driving force behind increased collaboration and productivity. Your teams can access, edit and share documents anytime, from any device, anywhere, so they’re able to do more together, and do it better.
But again, without the connectivity to do so rapidly and securely, those teams may not be able to achieve the boost in productivity you’re looking for.
The Cloud can also support commercial, compliance, operational and business continuity demands, as well as boosting organisations’ abilities to remain agile in today’s competitive marketplace. Throw robust and cost-effective disaster recovery into the deal – something only larger companies could previously afford – and the deal is sweetened even further.
Organisations like the Cloud because it’s…
- Scalable – you can easily boost or reduce your bandwidth as business needs dictate.
- Affordable – PAYG models can keep costs down. CAPEX can be reduced, lowering barriers to entry and driving utilisation.
- Customisable – a mix of public and private cloud solutions can give you the best combination of affordability and security.
- Secure – private cloud options can offer maximum security and sovereignty for your most sensitive data.
- Available – geographically resilient design and operational expertise reduces risk and enhances service availability levels.
Connectivity is key to maximising your cloud investment
Across the globe, the Cloud has become a highly appealing solution for businesses of all sizes, who are increasingly managing and deploying IT infrastructure, applications, and services in web-based environments.
However, as more and more enterprises adopt the Cloud, it’s becoming very clear that network connectivity must be a major consideration to ensure performance, reliability and ROI. Without it, that investment may never reach its full potential.
With many businesses moving towards a Cloud First strategy, your network needs the capacity to cope now and in the future – especially as the growth in rich digital media and data heavy applications is only going to accelerate.
Direct connectivity is key to optimising access to the cloud services and infrastructure that businesses require. It can deliver the cost-efficient access to the data and applications that drive collaboration and productivity and create a pace of change for both today and the future.
By investing in your connectivity you can ensure your organisation is ready for a digital future where data connects your people and your customers, and where sensitive data in the public sector can be shared between services – such as health, police, education and social workers - with complete confidence in its security.
But it’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition. So, from here we look at some of the questions organisations should be asking themselves along that journey of transforming themselves and their networks to a cloud-based future.
Bandwidth, security, applications, devices, assumptions
Five parts of your infrastructure to probe and appraise before starting your cloud journey
Assessing your bandwidth needs will involve exploring a number of factors including how fast and how often you’ll want to access your data, the number of employees who’ll be doing it, and your organisation’s overall Internet consumption.
Just as important is how you think those demands are likely to magnify in coming years.
If there is a larger digital transformation in play, or you foresee a shift in customer expectations on how you service them, then your cloud solution needs to be structured to leave room for these growth projections.
You’ll need to ask yourself some searching questions about security. How important is it to you? The Public Cloud is convenient, affordable and scalable - an appealing trio of benefits.
But for organisations with critically important data such as IP or sensitive financial information, it may not offer the security, sovereignty and total control that a Private Cloud solution does.
So you might benefit from a Hybrid solution where your less sensitive data – eg, your website - is kept in the cost-effective Public Cloud and you only pay for a Private Cloud answer for that most vital of information. (We’ve found this to be a successful ‘best-of-both-worlds’ solution for many clients.)
What data would you put where? Is this an appropriate time to reconsider which data is truly critical to how you run your business? Both good questions to ask yourself.
There are likely to be numerous applications scattered across your business. Some can be easily deployed into the Cloud, but legacy applications may need rebuilding to be cloud ready and to take advantage of the cloud capabilities provided by the Platform as Service (PaaS) layer on which they will run.
Do all of those applications need to be migrated across, or is it time to rationalise what you have and enjoy some cost savings along the way?
What about your endpoint devices? Do all have the capability to connect and ‘play well’ with your new cloud-enabled infrastructure? If not, your investment in that infrastructure might never be fully realised with your end users and the devices they work on every day.
Finally it doesn’t hurt to question your habits and ingrained assumptions either, for example that the one server, one application model is fixed in stone. Virtualisation now enables a single server to function as multiple virtual machines, each operating in a different environment.
Consolidating multiple servers onto fewer physical devices will reduce your hardware and maintenance costs and even cut your energy bill.
Connectivity best practices…
1) Determine your current network topology and where your traffic bottlenecks are. Review this against your cloud approach and determine how the network will need to flex to allow for cloud hosting versus on premise.
2) Exploit cloud-hosted applications for standard enterprise - messaging, CRM, collaboration, finance, and payroll.
3) For legacy applications, virtualise existing physical servers into a single environment. Rationalise all legacy hardware infrastructure for servers and data centre switching, and move workloads into the cloud partner.
4) Determine your cloud services portfolio for: the Internet, public cloud, private cloud, Public Services Network (PSN) and the Health & Social Care Network (HSCN).
…and what to ask your provider
1) Is the contract flexible so I’m not locked into unfavourable terms
2) Is the bandwidth flexible so I can scale services up and down as I need to?
3) Is there good integration so that service activation, such as the consumption of virtualised services and bandwidth activation, is easy?
4) Can you give me solid assurances on security once my data is in the cloud?
Why staying where you are could hold your business back
What are the risks of sticking with your legacy infrastructure?
Remaining too dependent on local resources with out of date computer equipment means you’ll struggle to achieve the 24/7 application infrastructure that is key to operating into today’s digital environment.
Not only will it hold back your ambitions, but that legacy hardware will also be costly and time consuming to maintain. Then there are the issues of depreciation and end of life (EOL) hardware to take into account.
Even finding technicians with the knowledge to tend that ageing equipment will become ever more difficult. The cost of maintaining trained and certified local resources to support on premise infrastructure is only going to grow higher. Sticking with an on-premise service also means committing to large and continuing CAPEX models to retain and replace the hardware moving forward.
How we can help you embrace your new cloud network
Capita IT and Networks offers secure, flexible connectivity to the best blend of services, from a private cloud infrastructure to public cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure.
We can help you choose the right public cloud network connectivity method based on business and application requirements for each cloud provider and application as typically not one cloud connectivity model meets all use cases.
We own and manage six highly secure data centres enabling us to deliver the best in cloud security and sovereignty.
We have strong partnerships with leading cloud vendors including Microsoft, Cisco, EMC and VMware to bring the latest innovations and value to our customers.
Our Network Operation Centres are on hand 24/7/365 to offer first, second and third line support so your cloud environment is always in safe hands.
As part of Capita plc, we have access to a wealth of technology and sector experts with a wide range of experience. The variety of industries and sectors we work with also means we can offer many valuable case studies, insights and comparative experiences to support your own cloud journey.
Cloud for Public Sector organisations
We help local government agencies remove legacy GCSX connectivity, and healthcare organisations migrate from legacy N3 services to HSCN as well as providing direct access to PSN and HSCN services. Our PSN and HSCN services are based on a flexible and customisable architecture to meet the customer’s specific network topology and traffic needs.