The central point when we talk about learning from cloud is that this new computing model can help you rethink your approach to infrastructure in fundamental ways.  But with such a breadth of opportunity, it can be tough to figure out where to start. Here are three options for delivering a more agile infrastructure:

  1. Rethink your traditional approach to the datacenter
  2. Get past objections to the cloud
  3. Identify where the cloud will bring you the most benefit

It sounds like a lot.  But each step has a few key actions you can take that will allow you to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and give yourself some additional time and money to use in making your infrastructure a competitive advantage.

  1. Rethink your traditional approach to the datacenter.

    We’ve talked in this blog series about software-defined networking and also about new options for storage.  Reducing manual processes for network management can make a big difference in how easy it is to run your infrastructure.  And the opportunity for cost reduction with storage is significant.  But the overall goal when you look at your existing on-premises infrastructure should be to consider where existing processes are slowing you down.  Does it take too long to fulfill requests for new capacity?  Is it tough to move workloads?  Are storage costs taking over your budget?  The point is to identify the one or two areas where you really want to effect change, and then explore how software-defined approaches might get you there.

  2. Get past objections to the cloud.

    Your organization probably has a list of reasons why cloud computing isn’t part of your infrastructure strategy.  Compliance requirements and regulatory hurdles can create genuine barriers to cloud adoption.  But there’s a more subtle set of objections that you can and should be prepared to address.  For one thing, there’s a good chance that your organization is already using many SaaS applications, whether sanctioned by IT or not.  From a security perspective the Azure Trust Center is a great resource for handling any security or compliance questions.  And for more general concerns, it can be helpful to start small, identifying one or two applications that would benefit the most from cloud scale.  Cloud storage is also a great place to start, because you can begin by just moving infrequently accessed archival data – which frees up space on-premises.

  3. Identify where the cloud will bring you the most benefit.

    The reason there aren’t more guides out there on shifting your infrastructure to the cloud is that there isn’t one right answer.  If you know in advance that you need significant scale, then a cloud deployment makes a lot of sense.  Perhaps more importantly, if you don’t know in advance how much scale is going to be required, then cloud deployment makes even more sense. We have customers with applications that support new business offerings, and the level of demand for the offering just can’t be predicted. Instead of investing in a lot of infrastructure up front, they take advantage of cloud scale on-demand.  Cloud is also great for applications with highly predictable spikes in demand that would otherwise put a lot of pressure on your existing infrastructure.  And finally, we’ve seen many customers benefit from the ability to deploy applications at global scale, in regions where they don’t currently have their own datacenters.

The emergence of cloud computing has created a transitional moment for IT.  By looking at ways to standardize, streamline, automate, and simplify across all of your usual processes, you can benefit in a large-scale way.

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