Cybersecurity has become an increasingly costly burden over the past decade, both in terms of outright expenses and the consequences of failure should an adopted strategy prove inadequate. Compounding this challenge, most businesses today need to accelerate the migration of data and applications to the cloud, which essentially creates a layer of infrastructure that’s not fully under the enterprise’s control.

This leads many chief information security officers (CISOs) and other top executives to make one of two bad decisions: either pull back their use of the cloud or layer onerous and largely ineffective security measures across all infrastructure. Both approaches result in higher costs and diminished productivity.

We don’t have to work this way. With the right preparation and a clear understanding of the risks of cloud operation, organizations large and small are finding that they can build a fully functioning and highly secure cloud environment. With the right strategy and expertise, CISOs and other top executives are in a prime position to help deliver the level of ROI desperately needed in an increasingly digitized, competitive economy.

Data in motion

Data migration presents a major source of cost and complexity in cloud architectures, and in large part this failure extends beyond technology to people, processes, security and all other facets of a project. All of these components must work together to produce a successful outcome. Without the understanding and buy-in of those who will orchestrate and implement the migration, people will make mistakes, the team will not tailor systems to optimum requirements, and the organization will waste a lot of time and effort.

Recognize, as well, that in the cloud there’s not only more people, systems and processes to coordinate, but some of these will exist outside the enterprise – either with the cloud provider or consultants and contractors. On a macro level, everyone will place top priority on performance and security, but as a practical matter this can produce duplicated or even conflicting actions if the team conducts the migration haphazardly.

Other areas in need of critical assessment are more strategic. Like any business initiative, teams should base data migration on a model, preferably a proven one, further optimized for the unique aspects of this particular project. Should the environment stress speed, scale, security - or something else? Does it need to fulfill any regulatory requirements or professional standards? This model should include the specific business cases the environment will support, as well as the top objectives set and how the organization measures success. It also helps to establish the means and methods to change the environment as the business case evolves.

It's a big job, naturally, but we can make it easier by developing an overall framework that establishes the top goals and objectives of data migration and cloud operations. A Cloud Center of Excellence (CCOE) lets multiple disparate projects focus on the many ways cloud adoption, migration and operations should come together to create optimum value. As the ultimate authority on the overall cloud ecosystem, the CCOE houses the architectural guidelines of the system, as well as policies regarding resource consumption and other important aspects of operations, as well as education of the workforce regarding proper procedures and applications.

An orderly process

In this way, organizations can bring order to some of the most complex, critical aspects of the cloud. From the planning and provisioning to full implementation, a properly crafted CCOE can ensure that the organization can secure the resulting infrastructure, and that it’s compliant, reliable and cost-effective regardless of the selected cloud provider. It helps establish the lines of communication needed to ensure the wider organization runs in step with the changes to systems and procedures. It can even support training and certification programs run by providers and professional organizations.

To gain a complete picture of both the cost of ownership and ROI of any cloud project, executives must look past the basic costs of compute, storage and networking. It takes a complete understanding of functionality, security, application needs and all the other interconnected facets of a working data environment to ensure goals are met, processes are working as required and costs are not escalating beyond acceptable limits.

Through proper preparation and the development of a master development and implementation plan, organizations will find that they can streamline and simplify digital transformation, and optimize all IT projects – indeed, the entire IT ecosystem – around cost-efficiency, peak performance, and security.

Jaret Chiles, global vice president of client services, DoiT International