Realizing the Full Potential of Cloud Services

Market Drivers, Business Models and the Value of a Purpose-Fit Approach

This guide is divided into four sections to help you chart a path to cloud success, choose the right cloud configuration, align strategy with your business needs, and explain the benefits of working with an experienced cloud service provider.


Charting a Path to Cloud Success


The mission-critical nature of today’s IT infrastructure has made choosing the right deployment strategy more important than ever. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of cloud computing.

Businesses seeking greater efficiency and agility find the cloud particularly attractive due to its flexible deployment options and its ability to help reduce the need for costly dedicated infrastructure. Not surprisingly, cloud adoption is on the rise. According to Gartner, by 2021, over 75 percent of midsize and large organizations will have adopted a multi-cloud and/or hybrid IT strategy.

But that doesn’t mean companies are moving their on-premises business applications and services entirely to a cloud environment. Many are implementing a hybrid cloud approach to gain the best of both worlds. Indeed, one of the most appealing qualities of the cloud is that it does not need to be an all-at-once proposition.

Determining the right cloud approach begins with a careful evaluation of your business goals, operational requirements, internal resources, and a host of other factors. The process can be challenging and often involves tradeoffs and balancing competing priorities to deliver the business impact you desire.  

In this executive guide, you’ll discover:

  • The core business drivers shaping today’s shifting cloud models.
  • Common cloud configurations and primary advantages.
  • Key considerations for a successful cloud transition
  • Benefits of working with an experienced cloud expert.

Choosing the Right Cloud Configuration

Cloud vs hybrid-cloud

Every cloud deployment has its own unique capabilities and limitations. Although agility and cost savings are vital, moving to the cloud is more about deciding what is best for the organization―not exclusively about reducing costs. Creating a purpose-focused, business-aligned cloud approach should be your top priority.

While the cloud has the potential to deliver substantial business benefits, that doesn’t necessarily mean the cloud is the best option for every workload. Many businesses are finding an optimum balance in a hybrid cloud model, giving them the ability to share data and applications between public and private cloud environments based on specific business needs.

With a hybrid cloud strategy, you can seamlessly scale on-premises infrastructure to off-premises resources, improving your ability to respond to shifting workload demands, changing customer preferences, or new supply chain challenges. This is especially attractive for midsize businesses, which often require a robust, agile computing infrastructure but are hampered by limited IT budgets that prohibit a large, in-house data center.

A hybrid cloud approach can deliver a host of businesses benefits including:

  • Improved scalability: Applications can be easily scaled as needed to meet shifting capacity demands while improving operational speed, efficiency, and agility.
  • Faster time to market: Businesses can launch and scale services quickly thanks to flexible deployment models and greater workload elasticity to match available resources with actual demand at any given time.
  • Greater access flexibility: The permanent, high availability of a cloud environment helps ensure fully location-independent access to reserved applications and resources.
  • Enhanced security: Flexible data control enables sensitive data to retain strongest security with on-site protections, while less critical data is positioned elsewhere in the cloud.
  • Better resource efficiency: With responsibilities for operating, maintaining, and updating IT infrastructure delegated to an outside service provider, businesses can preserve their in-house expertise for more strategic business priorities.

Cloud strategies continue to evolve, and many IT deployment models are already transitioning to hybrid configurations. As that proportion continues to shift, organizations must build and maintain infrastructures that can adapt, scale and evolve to meet changing business needs and market demands.

Choosing the right hybrid configuration requires carefully considering what you want to accomplish with your system, your unique data security and compliance requirements, and the existing infrastructure you have in place. One major challenge is figuring out which systems should remain locked-down and controlled in a private cloud and which ones might benefit from a more accessible public cloud environment.

Central to developing a sound cloud strategy is understanding the capabilities and requirements of your current IT environment. This means identifying the types of applications you run and anticipated shifts in capacity demands and resources.  With better insight into how applications and services are being created, accessed, and altered, you can better determine the optimum configuration for your business needs.

Common types of cloud environments:

  • Private cloud: Cloud infrastructure is assigned for exclusive use by a single business encompassing multiple users or business units. The infrastructure may be owned, operated and managed by the enterprise, a third party provider, or a combination, and it may be deployed on or off-premises.
  • Public cloud: Infrastructure and services are outsourced and provisioned through a third-party cloud provider for open use by the public. The infrastructure resides on the premises of the cloud provider.
  • Multi-cloud: Services are delivered from multiple cloud vendors, including private, public, and hybrid cloud providers. Interoperability advantages and best-of-breed capabilities offer greater flexibility in pricing, capabilities, service offerings, and geographic locations.
  • Hybrid cloud: Integrates private and public cloud environments that remain distinct entities but are linked by standard or proprietary technology that supports application and data portability for optimum load balancing between clouds.


Aligning Strategy with Business Needs


Cloud strategies can vary greatly from one business to the next, depending on workload demands, security and compliance needs, and existing IT capabilities and resources. For optimum results, begin with the long-term vision. Consider the level of performance and functionality you need your cloud environment to have; your internal resources and budget constraints; and the existing infrastructure you have in place and how you plan to manage it.

Like with any technology investment, there are certain risks that come along with the benefits. Mitigating these risks and capitalizing on the full potential of cloud requires a careful, pragmatic approach, factoring in core infrastructure needs, risk elements, performance requirements, and cost efficiency. Following are some key elements to consider.

  •  Think strategically: Central to effective cloud planning is identifying your business goals and understanding how the cloud will support those goals. Carefully evaluate your business needs and long-term strategy. What shifts in strategy do you expect your business to make in the next three to five years? How will these variations impact your IT systems and infrastructure needs? What new or emerging technologies should you consider in your cloud deployment plans? 
  • Manage complexity: Cloud environments can add complexity to your IT infrastructure, making it difficult to monitor and troubleshoot issues compare to traditional environments. Deploying applications across the cloud requires careful balancing of shifting workload demands. Where possible, employ automated tools that can assist with efficient movement and capacity planning, helping to ensure optimum cost savings and peak application performance. 
  • Protect assets: Data and infrastructure security should be a top consideration in any cloud deployment decision, particularly for companies operating in regulated industries. Safeguarding systems and assets against rising threats is crucial, but levels of protection should be carefully balanced against your unique business objectives. Ultimately, the burden is on you to make sure areas of liability are clearly defined and your service provider can deliver on its reliability, security and recovery guarantees.
  • Scale efficiently: One appealing attribute of the cloud is its ease of scaling, allowing you to meet changing workload requirements and only paying for the capacity you use. Automated load balancing can help achieve scalability on-demand while workflow management tools can monitor application performance to help prevent disruptions that could impact users.
  • Provide business continuity: IT-related disasters and emergencies can strike at a moment’s notice. That’s why it’s vital to have a well-designed disaster recovery plan in place as part of your cloud strategy to make sure your business can recover its systems and data in the event of a disaster, allowing you to remain in operation and keep unplanned downtime to a minimum.

Benefits of Working with an Experienced Cloud Expert

As the pace of technology change continues to accelerate, your in-house IT staff can often struggle to keep up. That’s where working with an experienced cloud consultant can provide immense value.

ZAG Technical Services takes a comprehensive approach to evaluating your IT environment and technology needs, carefully crafting a cloud strategy that aligns with your business objectives. We’ll assess the capabilities of your IT operation and examine your strategic options, whether it’s outsourcing, owning, or a hybrid approach.

Your IT infrastructure should efficiently and reliably meet the ongoing operational demands of your business, including the need for corporate stability, service continuity, regulatory compliance, as well as cost efficiency and resource optimization. Utilizing the latest virtual technology platforms, our extensive experience and modern approach to cloud planning and deployment helps ensure you get a tailored, ROI-focused solution.

ZAG has deep knowledge of cloud infrastructures and managed services environments. We follow best practice methodologies and processes to form the basis of growth estimates, sourcing options, and cost models.

Whether you’re looking to make an initial transition to the cloud or add more cloud expertise to your IT team, ZAG can help you with its extensive knowledge and application expertise. We evaluate your business needs and assess the level of integration you requirement in your cloud infrastructure, taking into account your available resources, security requirements, and compliance demands.

Cloud strategy requires a foundational IT infrastructure plan and a fresh perspective. ZAG’s experienced cloud consultants listen to your unique needs and goals and the results you’re looking to achieve. We work with proven solution providers to bring your business into a new era of efficiency and productivity.

Cloud planning must take into account the present, along with the future, so it’s important to build hybrid scenarios into your cloud deployments. ZAG consultants work closely with you to define and clarify your vision, leveraging technology and resources for optimum efficiency and scale. ZAG works with leading cloud technology vendors, which gives you wider choices in infrastructure cost, performance, and service packages.

Your cloud infrastructure should be able to efficiently scale to meet shifting workload demand, improve operational efficiency, and avoid vendor lock-in. ZAG domain experts use the latest tools and proven best practices to develop a technology designed to propel your business forward.

With ZAG, you’ll benefit from:

  • Superior performance: We focus on simplifying storage and consolidating hardware to ensure higher productivity and lower costs.
  • Resource optimization: We help you prioritize decisions based on your core business needs and leverage existing hardware for optimum efficiency.
  • Robust disaster recovery: A carefully crafted backup and disaster recovery plan helps protect vital assets and recover quickly in the event of system outage or loss of data.
  • Dedicated support: Multiple levels of support help ensure rapid response and quick resolutions to unexpected issues and events.

Cloud provides a future-focused technology foundation that allows you to deploy applications and services more quickly, which can help drive business growth and competitive advantage. When implemented correctly, your cloud investment will pay dividends far beyond the initial effort.

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