eMoving to the Cloud May Be Necessary, But It Won't Necessarily Be EaYou may already have a private cloud up and running. Taking the next step and moving to either a public or hybrid cloud isn't as straightforward but EMC (newssite) is offering some research and guidance that should help you develop the right strategies to move forward.

Guidance from Those Who Have Been There 

EMC's Leadership Council for Information Advantage is offering some new guidance and best practices for those organizations who are considering the move to public and hybrid clouds. The latest research paper is called "Creating Information Advantage in a Cloud World: Intelligent Governance Strategies for Cloud Agility". In it, they talk about the advantages of cloud environments and the information governance challenges that go along with it. 

This is the second research paper to come from the Leadership Council. The first paper was called "Creating Winning Strategies for Information Advantage" and it outlined the problem many organizations struggle with -- that being that many are still struggling to know what they have and manage it so that it's available for knowledge workers. But it's also not just about proper management, it's about leveraging it for business advantage.

The Private Cloud is Here

According to a CIO Market Pulse Survey from IDC, many organizations have already implemented private clouds, taking advantage of the cost savings and improved service quality. Private clouds have one huge benefit over public or hybrid clouds, they live completely within the organization, so you have full control over your information. 

Public, Hybrid Clouds Are on Their Way

But it's different when you start thinking about the move to public or hybrid clouds. How do you extend all those policies you have created for your private cloud out to environments you don't own? Some of the top concerns noted from IT leaders include:

  • Information security
  • Compliance and policy enforcement issues
  • Information portability
  • Uniform access policies

The latest council paper focuses on what you need to do to prepare for a move to a public or hybrid cloud, including 7 strategies for adapting your corporate information governance policies to support such a move:

  1. Jump into the cloud with a good test case.
  2. Own the information, even if you own nothing else.
  3. Don't take terminology for granted.
  4. Hope for standards, but prepare to integrate.
  5. Control cloud platform proliferation.
  6. Make your information "cloud ready."
  7. Master solution Integration.

Our Takeways From the Report

You can read the full report to get more detail on all seven strategies listed above, but here are a few of things that stuck out for me.

Defining the Cloud

First is the terminology. Make sure you understand the definitions of what is a private vs a public vs a hybrid cloud. Not everyone is speaking the same terminology yet, and the last thing you need is to get caught thinking you are getting one thing when it's really something else that gives you little control. 

This paper defines each of the clouds as they refer to it, so it's clear what they are talking about. When you really sit down and dig into it, there is a huge difference between public and private clouds. So make sure you understand what they are.

What is Moving to the Cloud

It's unlikely that everything is moving to the cloud, at least not at once. So what information and/or applications are organizations seeing a cloud environment best suited for? The answer is that the decision to move to the cloud is not based on applications, but rather sensitivity of information. The lower risk information tends to get moved to a public or hybrid cloud environment first. 

“I believe that to outsource something to the cloud, you first need to master it yourself. You need to know the details and challenges so clearly that you can specify exactly what you need.” —Dimitris Mavroyiannis, Eurobank EFG Group

The report offers a decision making model that can provide you with the right approach to choosing a public or hybrid cloud environment. 

Decision-making model for "Cloudsourcing" from report

Where are Cloud Standards 

Well, they aren't here quite yet. They will come, but until then it is your responsibility to make sure your information is secure and that you own it. The onus is also on you to ensure that you will be able to integrate all the various applications and information you have in the cloud.

“We can’t wait afford to wait for industry standards around cloud computing. To
meet our business challenges, we need to get closer to the efficient frontier,
and leveraging the cloud will help. To accomplish this, we are already down
the path of private clouds and beginning to use public clouds. While you build
an ecosystem of partners, you need to develop your own capabilities and
frameworks. This helps you increase your efficiency while you are learning.”
—Guy Chiarello, JPMorgan Chase

Be Prepared to Integrate Clouds and Within a Cloud

It's unlikely that you will only work with one cloud provider. It's possible, but then you might find you have vendor lock-in. It's more likely that you will be dealing with multiple providers offering different applications or services. There are also a lot of international local cloud providers that you may find yourself dealing with. 

You may also find that you have a number of apps or services with the same cloud provider, but they aren't connected at all.

What you may be left with is figuring out how to integrate all these applications/services and information across clouds and within the same cloud environment.

Should You Get Cloud Ready

The answer is likely a resounding yes. But don't get excited about the cost savings just yet. Make sure you have a solid information governance strategy in place. Think ahead about what information is sensitive and talk to cloud providers about how they deal with your information. You may also want to evaluate technologies that can be implemented to protect your information before you put it in the cloud (like DRM).

And have a look at this report. There's no better advice to get than from other organizations who are making the move to public and hybrid clouds and learning about the challenges they are facing.