By Chris Scaglione, Vice President and General Manager
A few years ago, the idea of putting your mission-critical applications and data in the public cloud was something business leaders scoffed at. How things have changed: Today, hyper-scale computing resources from the likes of Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft (Azure) are increasingly popular.
Initially, there was some skepticism as to what the growing popularity of the public cloud would mean for the IT Service Provider business model. After all, one of the key roles we’ve played in the past is managing infrastructure for clients that don’t have the resources, skills and/or time to manage it in-house. But just as cloud deployments have evolved, so have we, with new service offerings and new ways to help our clients take advantage of all the cloud has to offer—no matter which cloud(s) they choose.
Here are some examples of the most common types of services we offer to our clients who choose to deploy applications and data in the cloud, including public clouds such as Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure:
Cloud migration strategies —IT transformation projects are often described as working on the engine of an airplane while in flight. Managing risk and meeting performance objectives simultaneously requires an airtight strategy. Our professional services team members are often asked to work with the client’s migration planning and strategy team, especially for those organizations that manage high-risk data sets or have little experience with the cloud. Even if you plan to manage your cloud-based deployments yourself, we can help you start off on the right foot with a migration strategy that minimizes your risk and any disruptions to the business.
Integration between clouds — Many of our clients operate in a hybrid IT environment, deploying some assets in the public cloud and other assets in a hosted private cloud or in a Colocation environment in a TierPoint data center. Rarely do their applications stand alone. We help our clients integrate data and applications, while maintaining the level of security, compliance, performance and availability of resources required for mission-critical applications, regardless of where the infrastructure resides.
Security — AWS and Azure offer state-of-the-art security features, but even these industry-leading vendors are quick to point out that their customers must do their part. For instance, Amazon refers to a “shared security model” where they are responsible for the security of the cloud and their customers are responsible for security in the cloud. We can help you figure out what that means and ensure your bases are covered regardless of where your data and applications reside.
Performance and cost management — If you’re like most of our clients, the ability to restructure costs and lower them in some areas is one of the things that is attracting you to the cloud. However, performance is still a priority. We help our clients make the right initial choices given their performance requirements and then monitor their actual performance as their computing needs and available technologies change.
System management — Many vendors release scheduled updates monthly, as well as patches whenever a vulnerability is discovered. Automatically applying these updates can cause challenges for some organizations, but too often patch management is seen as something that can be put off. That is risky. Often, these vulnerabilities are discovered when someone tries to take advantage of them, and every moment your IT team or users put off installing updates is a moment your data is at risk. We work with clients to manage system updates in a way that is least disruptive to their business.
Database administration — A qualified, experienced database administrator does not come cheap. In most areas of the country, you’ll end up paying well over six figures for a DBA that many midsized organizations only need part time. Our database administrators help clients manage the many flavors of Microsoft SQL Server, including Azure SQL, as well as MySQL and Oracle databases across cloud platforms, without the full-time price tag.
Disaster recovery — The cloud has been a boon to disaster recovery and business continuity by lowering recovery times and reducing data loss. We help clients design a cloud infrastructure that meets their Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) and then manage these processes, including testing, to ensure their data is available in the event of a disaster.
4 Questions to Consider
At the end of the day, four questions organizations considering a cloud deployment (or expanding their cloud-based resources) need to ask themselves are:
#1 What skills sets/bandwidth do I have in-house?
#2 What vital areas do I not have the skills to cover, e.g., security or database administration?
#3 Which of these gaps should I fill by hiring?
#4 Which gaps should I fill by outsourcing?
Our team of Hybrid IT advisors is always ready to lend their expertise as you work through your IT strategy and consider the various options.
Chris Scaglione is VP and General Manager at TierPoint where he leads business operations and client engagement. Tapping a 26-year career in IT strategy and management, Chris guides clients through the rapid evolution of business technology and IT services with a focus on helping companies apply the right technologies that drive value, efficiencies and market opportunity.