Cloud Computing Migration: From Physical Datacenter to the Cloud

Companies right now are working out this concept of leveraging “cloudy” technology. Depending on the size of the company and the applications they’re using, there are many different aspects of cloud computing migration that are all happening at the same time.

1)      Moving existing applications out of the datacenter and into virtual private and fully public clouds.

2)      Fully embracing virtual datacenters, which means consolidating physical datacenters, and (if the company’s large enough) forming a private cloud.

3)      Outsourcing applications. There’s SaaS applications like Workday, ADP, Concur, and SalesForce.com that have replaced functions that used to run in the datacenter, and then there’s also custom apps for data that’s proprietary, sensitive or regulated, which many people are running in a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) extension.

The key here is that companies of all types are embracing cloud and virtualization by going after these three aspects all at once, but some companies are doing more of it than others.

Here’s a good example. There are a lot of folks in the web presence business who have services available to the general public, and they’re using a public web service or app servers like Amazon, public cloud, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and PaaS. The benefits are that they get to reach customers where they are, they can increase the level of service they offer, and they get to take advantage of new business opportunities more quickly and with less cost. Companies that offer streaming video, like Netflix, or online web conferencing like Adobe Connect, are good examples. And Netflix and Adobe are probably also using public infrastructure and PaaS for things like their CRM, employee travel, expense reporting, as well as SaaS applications.

The trends we see now for which companies are migrating to the cloud really depends on the size of the organization. For the SMB (2000 employees or fewer), they’re typically using a combination of SaaS, IaaS, PaaS and datacenters. SMBs tend to be less virtualized just because the ROI on virtualization for smaller companies isn’t as significant as the ROI for large companies.

Large companies (5000 or more employees) have a need for virtualization and consolidation of resources. They’ve typically been around for a long time, which means they’re running legacy environments. They’re getting all their public-facing applications out of the datacenter.  Their efficiencies increase dramatically when they’re no longer relying on physical datacenters. However, we see a lot less SaaS usage. For a company with that many users, they have to provide the same support infrastructure to manage SaaS apps and all the different security policies as they would with their own hosted applications. What we do see is the desire to get out of the datacenter altogether, eliminating the costs and processes, and taking advantage of cloud benefits like elasticity, scale and an instant global footprint.

What’s stopping organizations from fully investing in cloud infrastructures is the same heartache as those trying to fully virtualize: regulated data.

In the physical datacenter, you had a red rack with a lock on it and you knew exactly where all your regulated data was and who had access. You put that data into the cloud or a virtual machine, and suddenly it’s fuzzy. Where is that data exactly? And who has access to it?

Persistent data is forever – it is replicated and copied over and over, and you have very little control. You have to have a way to protect the data, and encryption is the only guarantee.

Even if companies aren’t using the same sequence to migrate to the cloud, they are experiencing the same problems.

For the virtual datacenter, the problem is visibility. Where is your data? How many copies are there? Who is authorized to make backups and snapshots? You at least know it’s in the building, but beyond that there’s no guarantee. For the public cloud infrastructure, the problem is dramatically less visibility. You don’t know anything but what the cloud provider tells you. So organizations with sensitive, high-value data are thinking twice.

The cool thing is that we get to help people deal with virtualization and regulations by giving customers visibility and control of their data. SafeNet encryption solutions help you maintain control throughout the cloud migration process. It doesn’t matter what happens to live data, backups or copies because it’s all encrypted.

As companies extend their datacenters into the cloud, they know that their virtual datacenter is covered, they’re confidently using Virtual Private Cloud, and they can use that same security strategy in a public cloud. They’re able to get the value out of the cloud for things they used to do in their on-premise datcenter, all without worrying about security.

Gemalto offers SafeNet ProtectV to protect virtual datacenters and public clouds.

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