In business, IT has gone from being an expense column in the budget, to a real answer for improving efficiency and increasing the bottom line. Private clouds are becoming increasingly important as more businesses realize that they, too, can run their own cloud.
Not every easily-deployed cloud solution is right for any given business problem. Developing the right cloud system takes time, and cutting corners almost always leads to regrets. Just as you would never consider building an addition to your office without careful planning and construction, the best way to get results from your private cloud is to be thorough.
Learn from other professionals’ experiences with this list of do’s and don’ts:
- Do identify you goals – No matter how carefully you design your system, it will not meet your needs unless you know what your needs are. Rather than drawing up a quick list, spend some time brainstorming. Discover the expectations at different levels of your organization, and establish your goals. It is a good idea to evaluate which people in the organization will be directly affected by the cloud, and to involve them in the process from this early stage. Their support at implementation is likely going to be based on how much they feel that their needs are taken into consideration.
- Do research the technology – Even if you are certain about what features are important to you, it is best to look into current trends, predictions for future changes, and options. The last thing you want is to develop your cloud system, implement it, and then discover that a better understanding of your options would have led you to do things differently. Even if you do not plan on managing the cloud on your own, you should have a solid grasp about the choices in front of you.
- Do set a budget – Companies spend anywhere from thousands to millions on private clouds. As early in the process as possible, establish a realistic budget and hold yourself to it. The budget should contain short and long term planning so you know what you can spend on maintenance in addition to what you can afford initially.
- Do plan for performance – Higher levels of technology do not necessarily improve performance. Sometimes technology overkill actually hurts performance. Before implementing any cloud, make sure you know how it will fit into the work flow. Speak with the people involved at all levels. Determine whether tasks will take less time, equal time, or more time after implementation. Where necessary, adjust your goals and your overall plan. It is far better to gain information about expected performance early in the process, than to be surprised after spending significant time and money implementing a flawed system.
- Do map the intended services – A good service map is one way to see flaws prior to implementation. Small companies generally have few departments and layers of employees to orchestrate, and the map will be a simple one. However, large companies have complex maps. It is not unusual for important steps to be neglected if they do not take the time to write out a map of every cloud function required by different departments and positions.
- Don’t forget to add new layers to your IT – Too many companies expect their current IT department to take care of constructing, deploying, and managing the private cloud. The mistake is understandable because your IT people are skilled and capable. However, a private cloud is a large job. Adding this stress to their already-full schedules leads to overworked, overstressed employees who are unhappy with the change. Do yourself and your employees a favor by opening new IT jobs prior to jumping into the added workload.
- Don’t hang onto unrealistic expectations – A private cloud is a wonderful tool that has the capacity to make many aspects of the job easier. However, you should keep in mind that it is not a solution for all types of problems. While anticipating any change, it is easy to fall into the mindset that things will get better after implementation. Yet, unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment and potentially mean the project will be wrongfully termed a failure.
- Don’t forget about the total cost of ownership – Companies that concentrate almost solely on the initial price tag miss out on important planning. The cloud program with the lowest initial cost is not necessarily the least expensive private cloud. The expected life of your cloud must be considered, as well as operation costs and eventual upgrades. No financial forecast is perfect, but the better cost estimates you create, the better chance you give yourself for success.
- Don’t hold yourself back – Keep in mind that you are designing a private cloud because you want something that meets your individual needs. If your vendor is continually telling you to change your needs to fit the product that he or she sells, it is time to find a new vendor. You are paying for a customized product, so do not settle for anything less than the customized options that you want. It is great to reconsider needs as you see what off-the-shelf products offer, but do not assume you must conform, regardless of your unusual preferences.
- Don’t think of installation as the end – With large projects, such as private cloud development, it is tempting to think of the project ending with installation. Any features that have the potential to complicate installation are avoided, and aspects that promise to make installation easier are sought after. It is common sense to want a smooth installation process, but do not forget about life afterward. A program that works better in the long run is worth investing in, even if it makes installation slightly less pleasant. Give your employees a positive reason to make it through installation—give them a quality product that makes their jobs easier.
Get Help When Needed
Remember that you are not on your own while you develop, implement, and manage a private cloud. Professional help is only a phone call away. Companies that frequently handle cloud problems know how to help. Whether you have a single question, or you need a professional to work with you through every step, they are happy to assist you.
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