3 keys to actually getting those cloud savings you were promised

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You’ve heard over and over that the cloud offers great opportunities for cost savings – and may have reaped some of the benefits already. Here’s a step-by-step guide for making sure you’re the hero who is able to harness these benefits and show their worth to decision makers. 

All too often IT is involved in cloud decisions relatively late. Rather than being active advocates for cloud services, they’re the ones called in at the last minute to implement the solutions … if that call ever comes at all.

Forrester Research has updated and revamped its guide to hybrid cloud implementation, a helpful document for highlighting savings. It’s the rare resource that doesn’t automatically assume you’re better off moving everything to the cloud right away, if not sooner. Rather, it provides crucial guidance on what, when and how to transition from in-house to the cloud – and even whether it’s the best move or not.

Here are some guiding principles from the report.

1. Toss out assumptions

Cloud transitions often start with the question, “Which services should we move to the cloud?” It’s a given that the cloud is faster, cheaper and easier than managing services in-house, so only a fool would continue to do things the old fashioned way.

Not necessarily. Flexibility, speed and cost were important factors in companies’ cloud decisions, according to Forrester. Survey respondents reported they were influenced by:

  • lower total cost of ownership for servers (77%)
  • remaining competitive as an IT organization (77%)
  • improving disaster recovery (75%), and
  • improving performance across the user base (75%).

But there’s no universal benefit of the cloud. It all depends where you are and where you’re coming from.

There are some applications and services that companies won’t want to move to the cloud without careful consideration (if at all). And when companies do move to the cloud, they’re sometimes surprised by what Forrester terms a “shock bill,” the result of moving so much to the cheaper alternative that you suddenly find the user base has eclipsed your predictions or the service is being used more than anticipated.

2. Know thyself

The truism “You can’t improve what you can’t measure” was practically made for the cloud. Some companies hear that the cloud offers all kinds of savings and buy into the idea right away without knowing what they’re actually spending now.

You need baseline metrics. And this will require some work.

Be sure to consider current costs, including:

  • hardware costs
  • maintenance contracts
  • back-up equipment
  • personnel costs for maintaining hardware
  • opportunity costs
  • management software for each application, and
  • energy costs for your facility.

Using this total, you should be able to calculate a cost-per-service or cost-per-gigabyte baseline that will actually allow you to judge how much (if anything) you’d be saving with a cloud provider.

3. Choose vendors wisely

Not every cost of moving to the cloud will be presented by providers. First, you’ll have to realistically gauge whether services will become completely hands-off once you move them to the cloud, which is unlikely, or whether you’ll continue to need staff supporting it.

Most cloud vendors present transitioning as if it’s the end of all your worries. But there could be costly setbacks along the way. And even if there aren’t, you’re not going to be done paying for certain things, such as costs that allow the cloud to work with legacy systems.

And the choice of providers, of course, matters. Many start-ups may offer lower-cost alternatives, but the service and support might not be there. Plus, if a lower-cost supplier gets acquired by a major cloud player, that could be the end of the benefits.

Finally, be sure to be on the lookout for contract provisions that could come back to bite you. Many will try to establish one-way liability: No matter what goes wrong, you pay.

No cost-saving measure will be worth it if at the end you find your systems less secure and you’re still on the hook for it.

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