You can’t mention enterprise technologies today without getting into a discussion about the cloud. “Are you in the cloud yet?” “The cloud is saving us so much money.” “By next year, we’ll be completely cloud-based.” The benefits are indisputable, and as a businessperson or IT professional, if you haven’t made the jump yet, you’re probably feeling the pressure.
But do you need to rush headlong into the cloud, if your legacy systems are working for you?
This question isn’t about your organization’s resistance to change, it’s about making smart business decisions. What will moving everything to the cloud do to your business? How will it make things better for your customers? And how long will it take? Is this really a black and white decision? To go, or not to go? Going all in on the cloud can be time-consuming, risky, expensive, and scary, especially if you’re using different solutions for different departments or horizontal workflows that are already working. Even with all the resources at its disposal, it took the federal government five years to finally take the first baby steps.
Then there’s security. A 2016 McAfee cloud security report found that the average organization uses 43 different cloud services, but only 35% use an integrated solution for managing security across all of those services.
It’s typical to find systems such as PeopleSoft, SAP, MS SharePoint, multiple Content Management Systems or databases all in one infrastructure, and it probably took years of tweaking, customizing, and configuration to get it all just the way you want it. As the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Even a small mishap during the transition can impact day-to-day efficiency, sacrifice revenue, fulfillment, invoicing, security, or hurt your customer service efforts.
So, how do you take advantage of the benefits of the cloud without going all-in? You trickle in.
And I don’t mean moving SharePoint to the cloud with Office 365, which isn’t a bad way to go. As an example of trickling into the cloud, I’m taking the common layer that most systems use to interact with each other: the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Methodically moving your APIs to the cloud, not the actual backend systems allows you to maintain operations and efficiency, and control the chain of access to your currently running legacy systems, which you can then pull into the cloud at your own pace.
Here’s an example – you’re running a media company with new content, historical content, business logic and static, and real-time data all living on an in-house server, exposed by a set of APIs, also hosted on that server. Utilizing the trickle approach, you would start by caching one of your APIs in the cloud, say the one making static historical content and data available. Because it’s static and archived, you don't have to "lay new pipes". Any new API call creates a tiny data pull from the old server into the cloud environment. The data gets replicated in trickles. One day, all your historical data lives in the cloud. Time to consider retiring that server. As new content is created, you can add that as an ongoing real-time trickle into the cloud as well without having to take the server detour.
Slowly but surely, all your data and content reside in the cloud without disruption to end users, the API remains the same. And eventually, you really should shut down that in-house server. Best of all, you’ve blazed a path to the cloud for your business with much less intensive logistical and budget impact. Then iterate from there.
Taking it slow can work for you and your business, and still get you to the cloud – possibly faster than most, but for sure with much less risk! Want to know more about cloud strategy? Read our paper A 4-Step Methodology for Achieving the Right Cloud Strategy or contact me learn how to make the trickle method work for you.