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All organizations need to evolve to remain competitive in their industry, and most are turning to the cloud to advance their transformation initiatives. Modern IT must leverage the public cloud to move with the speed and agility necessary to meet these initiatives.

This shift in IT is apparent across all industries. Gartner predicts that worldwide public cloud revenue will grow by 17.5 percent in 2019, with overall market revenue forecasted at $331.2 billion by the end of 2022.

There are a few reasons behind those big numbers. The first driver is that organizations are looking to get out of the data center business and reduce their investment in hardware.

You may have hardware in your data center that is only running at 50 percent capacity, while you are paying 100 percent over the course of its lifecycle, which can be anywhere from three to five years. The overall spend for that infrastructure also encompasses more than just the outright cost, as you will also be paying facility costs for the space, electricity, cooling and other specifics it requires.

Organizations are realizing the inefficiencies of underutilized hardware. The jump to cloud services offers more efficient utilization of resources and services, which typically results in ongoing cost savings and migration from a CapEx to an OpEx model.

In addition to cost savings, organizations are moving to the cloud to adopt a greater level of agility and flexibility. As we know, digital and IT transformation is forcing all organizations to adopt more mature processes that allow for real business outcomes. An inclusive cloud strategy provides this mature infrastructure that runs consistently and supports today's business.

Avoid the most common pitfall

While the demand for cloud shows no sign of slowing, the variation of cloud offerings and architectures can make it difficult to identify the appropriate provider for your unique requirements. Cloud may offer simple benefits, but designing the correct architecture is far from easy for even the most advanced IT professionals.

Even with so much information out there for decision makers, the question is still "which cloud is right for me?" The following are three areas to consider in your initial cloud strategy discussions.

1. Capabilities and current environment

First, it is vital to assess your environment. This includes the applications you're looking to host, current software assets, coding languages and workforce knowledge.

For instance, consider a full Microsoft shop that codes in C# and other .Net languages. With Microsoft operating systems, products and servers everywhere, and staff familiar with the software, it makes sense to also have a Microsoft cloud presence.

On the other hand, you might have more of a hybrid environment, with a mixture of IT vendors that support certain coding languages such as GO or Java, or more template formats like JSON or YAML. In this instance, you could turn to any of the big cloud providers to better serve your needs: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

The main idea is that no provider should ever be out of the question. Really taking a deep look into your environment and each application that will be hosted in the cloud can help pinpoint which platform is going to work best to achieve your cloud objectives.

2. Regulations

Security and compliance should be a top consideration for any technology deployment, and cloud is no exception. The fact is, not all cloud providers are created equal when it comes to compliance offerings.

For example, many healthcare companies base their cloud decisions on the provider's ability to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA), which is important for organizations that need to comply with HIPAA and other high-trust compliance initiatives.

An automotive manufacturer may have locations globally. Automotive companies rely on the TISAX security requirements to secure their information. The cloud providers all support TISAX, albeit at different data center locations and at different assessment levels at each data center. If that automotive manufacturer must be compliant at AL3 (level 3 assessment), then they will have to choose the cloud provider that meets the requirement.

Another example is the public sector, where there are various regulations for each agency. Some cloud providers have separate cloud environments that meet the requirements for classified and/or secret-level data classifications. Because of this, certain government agencies must work with a specific cloud provider.

While every provider offers some sort of alignment with compliance initiatives (HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc.), not reading the fine print can have a serious impact on a cloud deployment. Since not every provider will meet each of your requirements, it is vital that you take the time to evaluate the platform on each of your regulatory needs. You could very likely fall out of compliance if you don't.

3. Geography

Lastly, organizations looking to kickstart a cloud deployment should place a focus on geographic distribution. When it comes to cloud, location is key.

A main driver for moving to the cloud is the ability to access your data center from anywhere in the world. Placing services close to the users provides high performing, efficient applications. Not to mention a cloud design that is geographically distributed can better accommodate a customer's business continuity model.

There are two distinct things to consider when assessing location: carrier neutral facilities and the cloud provider's data centers.

Colocation providers like Equinix offer customers the opportunity to interconnect to software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud service providers (CSPs). Their ecosystem is made up of CSPs, providing the fastest, safest and lowest-latency routes for applications worldwide.

However, say your organization is very close to a colocation, such as Equinix, but the nearest cloud data center is 500 miles away. If there are areas of the world where the chosen cloud provider doesn't have a data center, it can greatly impact application latency. This requires you to not only assess colocations, but also the provider's actual data centers to determine whether your users will receive the fastest route to your applications.

Cloud strategy is a necessity

Working through the three considerations above is a necessary start to developing a comprehensive cloud strategy that includes:

  • Foundational assessments
  • Application candidacy
  • Governance
  • Operations
  • Security

It is vital that today's businesses execute new initiatives quickly, while reducing the time spent on infrastructure maintenance and business projects. Cloud adoption is skyrocketing because cloud provides a different way of delivering IT services.

Whether this is done using public, private or multiple clouds, it is critical for organizations to deliver applications in a new way that allows for workloads to run wherever they are needed.

WWT cloud partnerships and expertise

We have the distinct advantage of strong partnerships with not only the main public cloud providers, but also with the leading colocation suppliers. These relationships, along with the on-prem expertise we've built up in the last couple of decades, allows us to explore every cloud strategy option for our customers.

This is why we built our multicloud practice — to create the infrastructure design that includes a true hybrid cloud experience for any combination of on-prem, off-prem, private cloud, public cloud and carrier neutral facilities.

We offer in-depth IT working sessions around a variety of cloud topics. During one of our workshops, you will work with highly certified WWT experts and technical solutions architects to explore each concept and vendor solution.

We've also created a comprehensive multicloud integration platform in the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to understand exactly how your applications and data will interact. Our multiple testing and integration data centers in St. Louis are integrated with not only Equinix's off-premise facility in Virginia, but also with AWS, Azure and GCP. This provides our customers with unparalleled clarity in accelerating their multicloud architecture.

Our services stretch end to end, from strategy and planning to implementation and adoption. Whatever your needs are, we can provide a comprehensive cloud strategy that fits your unique outcomes. Contact us today to learn how we can help accelerate your multicloud architecture.