A Hybrid Cloud Checklist to Convince Upper Management

Posted on February 04, 2015 by Adam Burnham

By Paul Diamond

As an IT professional, you are likely evaluating all of your cloud options and hoping you can make something work within your organization’s IT environment, as well as within budget and scope. Why wouldn’t you? Cloud promises so many conveniences, cost savings, space savings and more. But some of the perceived downsides have stalled adoption for companies.

Hybrid cloud is a great fit in many scenarios. It’s a middle ground and mixes the best of both worlds to satisfy all the opinions in the company. For some in management, however, even the mention of cloud can bring on anxiety. Even though 2015 budgets are underway, don’t squash your hybrid cloud dreams just yet.

Here is a checklist to help you have the conversation with your management team – to reassure them that investing in hybrid cloud for their IT architecture is a good move – both in the short and long term!

  • Outline the major benefits clearly and succinctly: maximize IT performance, reduce upfront capital expenses, increase speed to market, and focus on the core business and driving innovation.
  • Don’t forget to share the risks, too: Your management team will likely already know them, and it’s best to frame the risks with the reasons why this approach still makes sense. Data loss and security will always be a concern for ANY organization, regardless of where the data lives. The cloud has opened organizations up to challenges in the past, but you can ensure your data is safe by choosing a provider that is serious about security – both virtually and in their data centers. Make sure they encrypt every transaction. Outages are also a concern, but similarly, make sure you choose a solution that prides itself on little to no downtime (Markley Group, for instance, has never experienced an outage in its 20 years of service).
  • Place focus on cost-saving benefits: Let’s be honest, your management team might not understand how hybrid cloud will change your life, but they do want to understand how it affects their bottom line. Be sure to discuss how it really does present savings, now and in the future, for both OPEX and CAPEX. With data in the cloud, you save OPEX by reducing the always-on need for administrators in-house and with colocation. CAPEX goes down when the purchase of equipment is reduced – it moves to the cloud! It really helps to be specific, if you can crunch the numbers, or calculate an estimate.
  • Provide adequate explanations for security concerns: Aside from cost, security will likely be the next biggest concern. Cloud computing is still “new” in regards to general business familiarity with what happens should a human or technical error or mishap occur. In the end, with any new technology, trust will be built, and service providers will begin to differentiate on their level of preventative practices and risk/harm reduction measures. In fact, you might have more recourse in correcting data loss with a service provider than you would if your internal IT team made a mistake. Also, it goes without saying but it’s much better to control the cloud strategies the internal staff will employ than leave them to their own devices and personal preferences for how to store data.
  • Start small: It’s important to build your own trust with management, too – perhaps you can begin by only putting backups in the cloud, and ease into the bigger cloud projects that might take more confidence and positive experiences to call upon. Provide a timeline and follow it to show how easy it is to get up and running, and what can be accomplished in a small amount of time, regardless of the size or scope of the project.
  • Research benefits specific to your organization: Don’t just generalize – provide specific examples of where your organization fails, or slows down, due to current infrastructure hiccups. If you do research about how the benefits of hybrid cloud can help your department’s challenges, it will impress management and start the project off on the right foot. For instance, with hybrid cloud, you can benefit from your new ability to practice cloud bursting – when an application runs in a private cloud/data center and turns to public cloud when computing capacity demand spikes.

The conversation can be a pleasant one if you come prepared, honest, and willing to put in the work to research and implement the best cloud solution for your organization. Commit to identifying the goals and limitations of your organization, and mapping the best plan as a result. Management will appreciate the initiative as well as the ultimate benefits you bring to the business.