While many enterprises are moving to the cloud, most cloud strategies are still a work in progress and often involve technologies from on-premise data centre investments.

It’s not strategically valid to rush into a cloud service simply because it’s low cost. Businesses ought to assess their cloud strategies to ensure they align with actual business needs and objectives.

According to IDC’s 2016 Enterprise Cloud Computing Survey, researchers found that the top business goals driving cloud investments were primarily 3-fold:

  • Lowering the total cost of ownership
  • Replacing on-premise legacy technology
  • Enabling business continuity

However, while cloud can ostensibly lower the total cost of ownership by reducing reliance on on-premise hardware, replacing on-premise legacy technology may not be as simple as it sounds. The expense of running an on-premise server goes beyond licensing costs, to include power, cooling, physical capacity, and human management resources. While outsourcing a server’s data and/or functionality to the cloud may reduce those costs, it can also mean that investment is wasted, unless these servers can be repurposed.

When developing a cloud strategy, businesses should consider their current infrastructure, network architecture, and application portfolios, which all play a vital role in efficiency and cost implications. Organisations should also consider current utilisation and costs associated with existing data centre investments compared with the costs of other public and hosted cloud platforms. A careful analysis may show that the time isn’t yet right to move all workloads to the cloud if cost savings are the main goal.

As server hardware becomes obsolete, so do support agreements and amortisation spans beyond the standard 3-to-5 year window. Some organisations deal with this by adopting a hardware lifecycle policy, which can also be applied to cloud migration, if the organisation integrates a cloud services roadmap into its IT policy.

Equipment adaptability is key when moving application servers to the cloud. Cloud services are perfect for facilitating hardware-intensive workloads as they offer significant versatility, including scaling to meet even the most demanding workloads. However, this versatility can mask some pitfalls, such as security issues, privacy, limited control, and possible downtime.

Organisations looking to leverage the cost savings offered by cloud services must weigh both the cost savings and the potential pitfalls against the investments they’ve already made on on-premises infrastructure, then plan their cloud migration accordingly. In some cases organisations should consider a hybrid approach, which means relying on a mixture of on-premise and cloud-based infrastructure until the business has exhausted the value of its on-premise hardware.

Businesses should always assess the risks and benefits of cloud migration. A full cloud implementation is complex and ever evolving, so it’s important to take a flexible approach with a full understanding of the pros and cons of each decision.