Moving to the Cloud: Critical Steps and Tips for Utilities
The time has come to move to the cloud.
Aging infrastructures are making it difficult to meet demands, and growing regulations require increased flexibility, agility, and efficiency. To top it all off, customer expectations are evolving.
Did you know: Utilities could save a great deal with cloud solutions. According to Gartner, energy providers invest up to 56% of their total IT budget in infrastructure and hosting.
Since security is a top concern, some utilities are hesitant about making the transition to the cloud. It’s true that the idea of compromised data is unacceptable, but utilities need to find a way to make the move while mitigating risk.
The truth is, cloud service providers have staked their businesses on buttoning up security issues and processes, and they’ve won. Cloud applications, and the data they store or process, are analyzed in real time to optimize delivery, reliability, and scalability. The best cloud service providers detect anomalies much faster than on-premises installations.
There are four critical steps you can take to help your organization ease into the transition, limit risk, and build your confidence in the cloud.
1. Start with a pilot or an integrated test.
You don’t need to fully commit to the cloud from the very beginning; you can ease your way in. In fact, starting with a pilot project is a great way to build your trust in the cloud and save money—by easily adding a dedicated project environment without purchasing new hardware.
There are several situations that lend themselves nicely to using integrated testing: a special project that requires more environments than usual, integrating new third-party software with customer billing, or upgrading existing application/software. Any of these use cases is the perfect time to pilot a cloud environment without interfering with existing on-premises systems.
Tip: If you have a special initiative that requires more environment, or that you can’t use your normal production environment for, using the cloud can allow you to quickly and easily spin up new support. You can do development and testing without tapping your limited space and financial resources.
2. Perform training and user acceptance testing.
A big step toward confidence in a cloud solution is getting users comfortable with it. Using the cloud to provide a training or acceptance testing environment helps with that, and it offers great organizational benefits.
For example, instead of being constrained by a limited number of environments, the cloud offers an affordable way to scale up training—increasing productivity while reducing risks. Buying more hardware can be an expensive and time-consuming process, but it’s simple to set up a new cloud environment and use it for a few weeks without impacting other project teams.
You can also see firsthand the cloud’s ability to integrate with on-premises, third-party software, as well as vendor-owned software, and communicate in- and out-of-system while in the cloud.
Tip: Rather than being limited by only one training and testing environment, your organization can use the cloud to establish multiple training and testing environments, available to address different business needs.
3. Set up disaster recovery.
There are many utilities without formal disaster recovery (DR) plans in place. It is quite a significant investment to procure, setup and maintain hardware that is lightly used under normal circumstances. Those that are renting space for DR quickly find that paying an organization to provide DR services is expensive. Putting DR in the cloud allows you to scale down to the minimal version of an environment to save resources and scale up whenever you’re ready.
Tip: In addition to saving investment resources, many companies find that cloud-based DR saves resources in the event of a disaster as well. Recovery from the cloud, with experienced providers, is fast and easy to deploy.
4. Start moving more environments to the cloud.
As confidence in the cloud solution grows, you can incrementally move more environments to the cloud. By this time, you’ll have a better cloud framework and increased organizational buy-in, so a full move to the cloud will be much easier.
Tip: Many utilities currently have limited tools for reporting on the performance of their environments, leaving them without solid trending data on how they’re doing. By switching to the cloud, you can get statistics reports alerts and, over time, can monitor key insights such as performance and central processing unit storage capacity. These monitoring tools are built into the cloud solution and can be setup to proactively take action. They also offer benefits such as autoscaling during peak utilization periods.
Moving to the Cloud with Confidence
While the cloud has historically caused utilities concern, cloud computing is the future. Cloud adoption is increasing because the cloud is helping utilities transform how they grow and monetize assets, scale their businesses, better meet customer expectations, and more easily adhere to government regulations.
Ready to find out if moving to the cloud is right for you? We can help you build a business case. Give us a call to discuss your unique challenges, and we’ll show you how you’ll benefit from a cloud solution.
Utility Solutions Partners-Regional Vice President