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War Stories from Cloud Architects – Part One: Lessons from the Peak 10 Frontlines

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October 27, 2014
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Part 1: Tips to Prepare for Your Cloud Launch

Two on-the-job accomplishments never fail to make it a great day for Peak 10 solution architects and cloud engineers: creating an elegant solution to a complex cloud design challenge and delighting customers beyond expectation. The two often come hand-in-hand.

The best results for customers come when they are active participants in the process of pre-deployment planning. It isn’t necessary that they have all the answers – getting to those answers is the value of the collaborative relationship that Peak 10 espouses. The design solution will be most effective when planning results in a thorough understanding of a customer’s applications, workloads and data requirements, and clearly defines goals for their cloud implementation and the business objectives that the technology will be supporting.

What is within the control of the customer, however, is the anticipated job scope, the basis upon which the plan is built. How many applications are moving to the cloud? How large are the databases? Is it compute only or compute, storage and disaster recovery? Why do you think you’ll need that many VMs or that much storage? Does it include data back-up or data replication? Is there an assumed timeline for completion? And the big one — what are you trying to accomplish?

The more information a customer brings to the table, the more complete the cloud solution will be and the more smoothly it will be delivered. In the course of their work, our solution architects and cloud infrastructure engineers have consulted with hundreds of mid-market customers, helping them to realize the many benefits afforded by cloud computing. From the architect point of view, here is a wish list for businesses about to engage a cloud service provider.

  • Know your workloads: No one wants to spend more money than necessary to get required services. Getting services matched to your needs requires that you have properly sized and prioritized workloads.  You’ve taken into account who in your organization uses applications and how they are used. You have an understanding as to which applications are well suited to run in a virtual, multi-tenant infrastructure and which may need to be modified.
  • Have a clear workload expectation: What constitutes acceptable performance for individual applications? Will you need rapid access to some data storage and not others? How quickly do you expect to be able to scale up additional compute resources and how will that occur? What is the expected growth rate of your data volumes?
  • Communicate, communicate: You are about to engage in a partnership that ideally will last a long time. Help get it off to a positive start by thinking of your provider as a strategic asset and extension of your own IT operations staff. This is hard to do at the start of a vendor relationship, but it’s made easier when there is a receptive and interested vendor sitting across the table from you.
  • Dive deep: The deeper you go into your technical requirements and technical challenges and the more detailed the description of your computing and storage infrastructure, the better able your solutions architect can be to bring you successfully into the cloud.
  • Self-profile: A vendor can know the healthcare or financial industries, but that vertical expertise offers little insight into your specific company:  who and what you are, and what your strategic goals are. Driving the success of your business ought to be the primary objective of your provider. Are you expanding your market or preparing for an acquisition? Are you entering new lines of business and bringing new services online? It helps a great deal if you’re able to articulate what success looks like, now and in the future.

Organizations coming into Peak 10 are frequently surprised by the level of detail and examination we seek.  Many also have not looked at their requirements and expectations this way, at least not all of them. We’re not shy about working with our customers to get to the bottom line and helping them get the best solutions possible for current and future needs.

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About Peak 10

"Our values are the foundation for everything we do at Peak 10, and are ultimately what enable us to earn our customers' business and their trust."
David H. Jones,
Board Member, Peak 10 + ViaWest