By Sean Donaldson
Public cloud adoption is gaining momentum. And while many companies had already begun to embark on their digital transformations ahead of the pandemic, COVID-19 certainly accelerated this transition in 2020. In fact, in a recent study, more than eight in 10 organizations said the cloud is more important today than it was one year ago.
It’s worth noting that the complexity of the cloud environment is growing nearly as fast as the adoption rate. Organizations looking to move workloads such as their enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to the cloud face a growing number of options when it comes to selecting a cloud provider. And each cloud provider offers a variety of configurations, features, and tools. With all of this in mind, organizations moving workloads to the cloud would be well served to look for a partner that understands their unique needs, such as a managed services provider (MSP).
Fast innovation in the cloud
Large public cloud providers are constantly offering new tools and features, so much so that innovation in the cloud often outpaces the ability of cloud users to keep up. These new features can allow cloud workloads to run more efficiently and lower costs for customers, but it takes a team of experts to keep track and understand the many changes.
Let’s look at the scenario of moving an ERP suite to the cloud. Once set up and running, they are typically very stable, but some of the new tools and services integrated by public cloud providers may offer large compute resources or more cloud native services that help the ERP system run even more efficiently.
In many ways, the public cloud infrastructure is changing faster than the workloads it is running. In my experience, a good MSP will keep track of all the new public cloud offerings and match its customers to the features that best fit those customers’ needs.
The migration conundrum
Moving some workloads to the public cloud is an involved process. There are a lot of moving parts when transitioning workloads like major ERP suites to the cloud. Taking advantage of what the cloud has to offer can be overwhelming to organizations that haven’t done it before.
For example, many companies use SAP software to manage business operations and customer relations. But using SAP software can mean a dozen or more software packages to move to the cloud. How does a company ensure that all the things it was doing in its private environment now also work on the public cloud?
During a migration to the public cloud, companies need to consider sizing and performance – issues they didn’t have to think about in the same way when running software suites in the private cloud or on their own hardware. In the public cloud, they need to think about these issues in a new way because they’re now running workloads in a shared environment.
A managed services provider should have various tools to help with the migration, including some automated ones. An experienced MSP will have helped many clients with the cloud migration process and therefore be equipped with the knowledge it has accumulated from those past cloud transitions.
A managed services provider can recommend the best cloud provider for the organization’s needs. But it can also help an organization decide which workloads should be in the cloud. In some cases, for example, a company already running several workloads on one public cloud might put a new workload, such as its ERP, there as well. This can create better integration between software suites and more efficient coupling between workloads.
Dealing with many clouds
Another issue for cloud users to consider is the growing trend toward multi-cloud setups. While some MSPs focus on one major cloud provider, others have expertise related to several cloud providers and may even encourage a multi-cloud set up considering the potential risk involved in putting all of your eggs into one basket, or cloud, as it were.
In some cases, an enterprise may have workloads on several major cloud providers, as well as on a private cloud and on-premises. In this case, the company will want some applications running on a private cloud for audit, compliance, or business perception reasons.
A multi-cloud environment, of course, adds complexity for the organization. The enterprise needs the same governance over all of these environments. For example, a company may have SAP running on a private cloud and a customer-facing website on public cloud. The challenge is to manage these two environments in the same way, with the same security and operational governance. Most companies will want a single pane of glass or dashboard showing all of their cloud environments.
An experienced managed services provider can remove some of the complexity of a multi-cloud environment. They are familiar with public and private cloud as well as the nuance of hybrid cloud and are well-versed in the third-party tools that are available to manage these complex environments.
To learn more about managing cost, risk, and governance in public cloud adoption for a smoother transition within your organization, listen in to this podcast, “Are You Ready for the Multi-Cloud World.”