Cloud

6 Considerations for your Cloud Transformation

This article was produced by CBS Interactive's Studio 61 custom content group and is not part of Tech Republic's editorial content.

Using multiple cloud vendors has become the reality for many enterprises. Once a company begins to migrate to the cloud, infrastructure lives not only on-premises and in the domain of one cloud provider, but often winds up split among many providers. This hybrid cloud architecture can happen organically (one team spins up a test environment on Microsoft Azure and another subscribes to a SaaS provider, for example) or it can be part of a proactive disaster recovery and business continuity strategy. No matter what, there's added complexity.

Here are six things you should keep in mind as you implement your cloud transformation in order to stay ahead of the confusion and ensure cloud technologies drive your business forward.

1. Employees will always find a way

Be aware that highly motivated employees will always do whatever they need to get their job done and meet their assigned deliverables. Sometimes, this means adopting their own cloud services, apps, and tools without getting approval from IT. Never penalize motivation. Bypassing IT indicates a lack of training and deeper understanding of corporate priorities. Teach them why your priorities are important and take the extra time to get their buy-in. The following considerations will also help turn the headstrong into powerful champions for your organization.

2. Make sanctioned IT services the path of least resistance

One of the best ways to reduce this cloud sprawl and shadow IT is by making centralized logins easier than individual logins. Using SAML and other identity federation tools, integrated with Active Directory, employees will find getting to IT-sanctioned resources is less of a hassle than logging into rogue systems. This also increases the ease and security when onboarding and offboarding employees.

3. Expand your security bubble to cloud and mobile

There are no security perimeters anymore. Your security must be inside your physical walls and extend across the planet and into the cloud.

For private connections between on-premises gear and the cloud, consider using dedicated connections like Azure ExpressRoute. Use virtual, micro-segmented firewalls to prevent east/west malware migration, and add remote management to all your mobile devices.

4. Automate your virtual infrastructure

One of the more powerful side effects of moving to a software-defined data center model is your infrastructure resides in what's essentially a file. Files can be moved, copied, replicated, and written to - which means they can be automated.

Adding automation to your virtual infrastructure becomes an enormous force multiplier, allowing you to use scripts to create and configure everything from firewalls to application servers, then set them to instantiate based on event triggers. This provides a level of agility that lets you respond to changing conditions dynamically and rapidly.

5. Centralize your management interface

By now, you've got infrastructure locally, and probably living among more than one cloud. You've got SaaS apps to manage as well. All of this would normally require jumping from interface to interface to get anything done - a huge time sink. Look for services that offer a cohesive, centralized interface that aggregates all of your workloads and management consoles into one environment. It will save time, improve governance, and relieve headaches.

6. Choose the right partners

IT today is all about the power of partnership. Together, CenturyLink and Microsoft combine data networking and systems integration expertise with the extensive cloud tools and technologies you need to be flexible, secure, and able to grow quickly and cost-effectively. You will enjoy self-service portals and leverage blueprints for popular and widely used software components, including containers. The result is more effective collaboration on applications and releases with visualization for traditional, production, mission-critical, and multi-tiered applications.

CenturyLink provides services that can support your transformation for each of the areas outlined above.

For more information, visit centurylink.com/multicloud.

To register for a personalized solution development session, visit www.centurylink.com/solution-development-workshop.