Moving your data centre to the cloud

According to the hype, the cloud promises some major benefits, but probe a little deeper and some big questions become apparent.


What is really meant by “cloud services”?

Every supplier seems to use the term, but they don’t necessarily mean the same thing. We use the model illustrated in the diagram below – these are the key characteristics that differentiate each type of cloud. When determining which option is best, the key is to understand what your needs are, and therefore what commercial, technology and service characteristics really matter.   

We were initially sceptical that both cost savings and service improvements could be achieved but, for a well-implemented cloud service, the economies of scale mean that it should be able to offer a better service for a lower cost. We have delivered two major data centre transformations for FTSE250 companies, and the transition to cloud is targeted to achieve improvements in service levels, flexibility, responsiveness and security (yes, even security) as well as total operational cost savings (on a cash basis) in excess of 40 per cent.

What are the risks?

  • Picking the right suppliers – suppliers fall into three groups: consulting systems integration, hardware/IT services and network services. It may be useful to involve a range of those in any RFI/RFP process. Whether to opt for a multi-supplier or a “one throat to choke” approach also needs thought
  • Service levels, SLAs and service credits – it can be tricky to negotiate bespoke arrangements that suit you, rather than the off-the-peg offer
  • Contractuals, pricing and software licensing
  • Technology considerations
  • The transition/transformation project to migrate to the cloud
  • Internal implications on your IT team once the transition is complete

Overall, is it ready for the big time? Our view is an unequivocal “yes”.  There are now enough examples where this has been done at large scale, for major global companies, and for their most mission-critical transactional applications. If CIOs are not exploring this already, then they should be – and will be soon.

Moving your data

Jon Bradbury is a partner at The Berkeley Partnership


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