Moving to the Cloud is tremendously useful for (significantly) reducing the number of servers required to run your environment efficiently. Salesforce, in their article Why Move To The Cloud? 10 Benefits Of Cloud Computing Operating, talks about some of the benefits of entering the Cloud which can include greater flexibility, excellent disaster recovery systems, increased collaboration and less money spent on hardware. However, before you get too excited to join the Great Cloud Migration, here are some important things to keep in mind before you make the transition.
Size Matters: Instances are Sized Correctly
In the past, when you wanted to digitize your work, a physical piece of hardware would arrive on-premise with a defined amount of storage to accommodate your license instance storage requirements.
If your operations only required 200 GB per server, it would then be a smart investment to purchase servers that offered 500 GB just in case your organization grew and you needed more storage as business boomed.
Purchasing storage in that manner made sense when you were dealing with a fixed, physical asset. Now, as organizations migrate to the Cloud, we are still seeing the tendency for purchasing more space than what is actually required in anticipation of future growth.
The Cloud isn’t a physical, fixed asset that you own with storage limitations attached to a piece of hardware. Welcome to a subscription-style storage solution with an a la carte menu that can be augmented or adjusted as needed – whenever it’s needed. If organizations only require 200 GB of space for nine months of the year, then get what you need for as long it’s needed and certainly hold off purchasing more than required in advance!
Assuming You Can Bring Your Own Licenses To The Cloud (BYOL)
If you assume you can bring your own licenses, then you are…not exactly wrong. For some software publishers, their contracts do allow you to move licenses from on-premise to the Cloud – but not always on a 1 to 1 instance basis. Other software publishers do not allow for license use rights to be transferred from on-premise to the Cloud – therefore putting you at risk of being in a non-compliance position with that vendor for the remainder of your contract term.
It is very important to do your due diligence in understanding your contract permissions and restrictions and plan the timing of a Cloud migration strategy accordingly. Not all vendors and products can move at the same time. Consider any applications that might carry sensitive data like patient records or customer credit card information, it is highly unlikely the publisher of that software will let you take that information anywhere near the Cloud. Such an act would prove a huge liability to you as well as to them since the Cloud has been known to have massive breaches in security.
For some publishers, you need to purchase specific Cloud licenses for a piece of software, and for others (to make things even more confusing) they offer a hybrid use right. There are also vendors like Microsoft, who will offer you the right to use their on-premise and SA licenses on their specific Cloud (Azure is one of Microsoft’s).
Service Provider Licensing Agreements are their own battle entirely. Service Provider Licensing Agreements permit a third-party vendor to provide the software to clients as a service. SPLAs usually acts as a monthly service provider and is flexible on a monthly basis. The problem is that these resellers are now also offering Cloud servers, but you will be on the liability-hook for anything that is running in your Cloud space.
Translation Error: Not Understanding How Your Licenses Will Change When Moving To The Cloud
When moving to the Cloud, many companies think that their licenses that they are currently using on-premise will seamlessly cover them for use in the Cloud. If you have 20 servers, you should be allowed that same amount of space on the Cloud, right? However, not all licenses are allowed to be used in the Cloud, so it’s important that you review your contracts and the use rights of all products you move to the Cloud to understand what you can and cannot do.
Otherwise, as you transition to the Cloud, you’ll come across a different licensing metric that will suddenly leave you with a few unlicensed servers or, even worse, in complete violation of the vendors licensing rules.
Let’s take Microsoft’s Azure Hybrid Benefits (AHB) as an example. AHB gives you some rights to use your licenses up in the Cloud, so purchasing it should mean that moving to the Cloud is made simple, but it’s not. You may be licensing your on-premise VMWare Servers with Windows DataCenter, and this would allow you to have an unlimited number of Virtual Windows Servers (VMs) on that single VMWare server.
However, if you have 20 VMs on the server, it might be easy to assume you can move all 20 VMs to Azure without paying for Windows Server Licenses since you have unlimited virtualization rights but this will leave you open for a big surprise. The truth is that the AHB only allows you to cover up to 2 VMS with the licenses that you are using to cover 20 VMs, leaving 18 VMs of Windows exposed to a license compliance gap.
Not Tracking Who Is Installing Software
Companies moving to the cloud often give their IT and development departments the ability to set up as many Cloud instances as they believe they may require, making it difficult to track who is doing what. Without any sort of administrative oversight, the potential to become exposed to disorganization can create a lot of unnecessary sprawl and forgotten instances left plugged into your environment that will be draining your budget quietly in the corner. In our many years of experience, we were once approached by a client whose software bills had spiked mysteriously seemingly overnight.
After doing our research, we traced the spending back to a single server belonging to a junior IT assistant. The junior IT resource, with a single click of a button, had accidentally turned on an unnecessary storage application that was now collecting data from the entire company. When the assistant had turned the storage app on, he had done so thinking that the product cost a little over a dollar a minute to run. Scaled up to the whole company though, that was an additional $4,000 a month, all because no one was monitoring what was being activated in the Cloud.
To make matters worse, according to Timothy Morrow from Carnegie Mellon University, the deletion of data is difficult to monitor on the Cloud. Once deleted, the process to ensure that it is completely removed and fully inactive varies from provider to provider. Make sure that whenever a project is set up in the Cloud, you have a system in place that can properly track it so that you can ensure it has been decommissioned once the project has concluded.
Not Monitoring Usage Regularly
This is another byproduct of not having any sort of administrative oversight around Cloud usage. If instances are established with no oversight they could be left running unknowingly. It’s important that you monitor the activities that occur in your space in the Cloud, that goes for usage as well as installation. Your financial department will be unable to calculate down to the number where and how all the organization’s money is being spent. They can only see the lump sum amounts that can be investigated if something is truly amiss. In any operation’s budget, Cloud expenses can come across as small expenses and can be easily overlooked until they expand into a big spending problem.
Potentially, the task of monitoring and authorizing installation use in the Cloud could be delegated to your Software Asset Manager. As companies are steadily picking up and moving their hardware to the Cloud, the same people that have to manage your software assets on-premise are going to have to learn to do the same on the Cloud. That way you can be sure you are only paying for what is being used.
While it may seem like everyone is heading for the Cloud, it is important to put proper planning/sizing and environment need analysis in advance of making the move. At Metrixdata360, we are quite familiar with these challenges your business will face as you move into the Cloud and as such, we have developed SAM tools that can help you counteract these challenges. We have a tool-set that can monitor your environment constantly to track a timeline of your usage so that you can see exactly where and when your money is being spent. Our main goal is to save you money and control your expenses.
For more information about our SAM services and how we can help you through your Cloud transition, click here.