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Your Path to the Cloud:
A Guide to Key Decisions

 

Are New Clouds on Your Horizon?

Organizations are accelerating adoption of cloud solutions to help drive their digital business. Maybe your organization has already implemented a private cloud or opted for public cloud services in an effort to supplement your resources and capitalize on the flexibility, scalability, and efficiency cloud environments offer.

Now you're poised to expand. You're planning to add more cloud environments with the expectation of amplifying cloud benefits.

If new clouds are on your horizon, you have several important decisions to make. For example:

  • Do you implement a private cloud or tap into public cloud resources?
  • Do you create a hybrid environment, integrating cloud resources with a more traditional data center environment?
  • If you choose a private cloud, do you buy or build?
  • Will you manage this additional cloud, opt for a fully managed solution, or select something in between?

You also have to address key challenges. First, you need to ensure a smooth deployment and seamless migration for your applications and data. Going forward, you will have to find the most efficient ways to handle application lifecycle management so you can continue to deploy applications rapidly and in the best environment. And you will need strategies to continuously optimize your cloud so you can maximize its value for your organization.

Those challenges are magnified in multi-cloud environments. As the number and variety of cloud environments grow, so does management complexity. You need to consolidate and standardize processes and operations across all of your cloud environments so you can realize cloud benefits without requiring excessive IT resources.

How can you overcome potential obstacles on your path to the cloud? Establish a cohesive cloud lifecycle built on four best-practices pillars:

  • Plan: Identify essential decisions and make informed choices, designing a plan that helps ensure a fast and successful move to the cloud.

  • Deploy: Put your plan into motion, launching applications and data in the best—and most secure—cloud environments.

  • Manage: Adopt tools, solutions, and services to streamline ongoing operations and processes across your multi-cloud environment.

  • Optimize: Continuously optimize applications and their resources so you are maximizing cloud benefits.

 

Plan: What Other Clouds Do You Need?

"The cloud" is not one single thing. There are multiple types of clouds, each with its own advantages and optimal use cases. Each time you plan to add a new cloud, you need to identify which platform or service is best for the target application and workload.

Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Environments

Many organizations today are implementing hybrid clouds to maintain control over data or some other aspect of a workload while still capitalizing on public cloud resources. A growing number of organizations wind up with a multi-cloud environment. In fact, by 2020, more than 90 percent of enterprises will use multiple cloud services and platforms.1


You might implement a private cloud to keep a database with sensitive customer information on premises or to maximize the performance of a critical enterprise application. You could add public cloud services to deliver productivity applications or disaster recovery (DR) services. And you might construct a hybrid environment to deliver a mobile app from a public cloud that relies on an on-site or non-cloud-based database.

Public Cloud

Public cloud services—such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and CenturyLink Public Cloud—can help you significantly expand your resources. Whether you need a modest development environment, a secondary site for DR, a service for delivering customer-facing mobile apps, or something else, a public cloud lets you address your needs without having to buy, deploy, or even manage your own infrastructure.


Public cloud services enhance agility, giving you the ability to quickly adapt to evolving business needs. You can quickly scale up or back to accommodate temporary needs, such as spikes in traffic or short-term projects. With simple self-service options, business groups and developers can easily spin up new environments when they need them, regardless of the initial size. Those groups and developers can also spin resources down when they are no longer needed.

Public cloud services probably won't save you money, but they can help you avoid the large upfront spending associated with acquiring traditional infrastructure. By using a public cloud, you can trade capital spending for an operational expenditure model.

Private Cloud

Private clouds can offer some of the same agility and flexibility as public clouds while providing greater control over the environment. You can implement a private cloud on premises or use hosted private cloud services. Opting for a hosted private cloud service enables you to move data offsite while maintaining compatibility with in-house environments.


Why choose a private cloud?

Security and Compliance. Private clouds enable you to keep sensitive and highly regulated data on premises. You can implement your preferred security solutions and help better ensure that you will maintain compliance with a range of rigorous regulations—from privacy laws to data sovereignty rules—without the potential risks posed by non-secure public cloud neighbors.

Performance. Private clouds let you control the performance of key applications, including demanding databases, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) implementations, multimedia applications, and more. You can avoid the resource oversubscription—and resulting performance issues—that can occur with multi-tenant public cloud environments. Or you can oversubscribe portions of your private cloud to reduce infrastructure costs by stretching your cloud resources based on known lower usage patterns of certain applications—you don't have that option in public cloud environments.

Governance. Private clouds help reduce potentially dangerous shadow IT situations in which users adopt public cloud services without IT oversight. With a private cloud, you can make sure users are adhering to your organization's required security controls, application build standards, and architecture availability and recoverability expectations—while keeping tabs on usage and costs.

Management Flexibility. The right private cloud offering can give you flexibility for choosing your preferred level of management responsibility. You might decide to outsource management completely. Or you can retain control over the application layer while letting a cloud provider handle infrastructure and operating system–level administration, all while replicating what exists within your internal data centers. Replicating environments enables you to scale seamlessly and avoid unnecessary complexity.

Location. Private clouds can be deployed both on premises and within external third-party data centers. A hosted private cloud gives your organization the flexibility to deploy applications at the edge, close to users and data sources. You can also use hosted solutions to meet requirements for data sovereignty.

Technology Preferences. Moving your applications from one cloud architecture to another can be a complex undertaking. Using a private cloud lets you control key architectural decisions that enable your organization to seamlessly move legacy workloads outside your internal data center while maintaining the same platform. You can avoid the need for new skills, tools, processes, and operating models.

Finding Your Clouds

Which types of clouds are right for your organization? Finding the best cloud environment for each application and workload might touch on several key elements.


Location: Milliseconds matter. Choosing the right physical location for your cloud can have a significant effect on application performance and the end-user experience. You might decide to run an application close to customers or near your headquarters employees to minimize latency. Or you might need a DR environment across the country or even across the globe to help ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster. Determining the optimal location can help guide you to the right type of cloud and narrow down provider options.

Time to value: How fast do you need to get up and running? If you need to deploy a new app this week, a public cloud service might be a better choice than an on-premises private cloud.

Security: Some organizations must keep sensitive information on premises. But as you contemplate different cloud solutions, consider whether an outside cloud provider might have access to a broader array of security tools than your organization.

Expertise: Do your in-house team members have the skills for managing your cloud environments? And do you want to use your internal resources in that way? Whether you choose a public, private, or hybrid cloud, consider supplementing your in-house staff with outside experts.

In addition to finding the right type of cloud, you'll need to assess the applications you want to run on the cloud. Which applications can be moved as-is? Which will need to be reconfigured or redeveloped entirely? For each application, what approach will give you the best return on investment? Your application assessment might need to start with a user discussion and incorporate an analysis of the business impact of your various options.



BUILD?

Or

BUY?

Dig deeper into key decisions as you consider
which cloud is right for you.

 

Envision What's Next for Your Business
Discover the possibilities of CenturyLink Cloud—built for the enterprise.

 

Navigate the Path to a Private Cloud
Devise a roadmap that helps you avoid the obstacles in your private cloud journey.

Deploy a Next-Generation Private Cloud with CenturyLink

CenturyLink Private Cloud on VMware Cloud Foundation is a software-defined data center (SDDC) solution that delivers a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and private cloud as a service. Built on industry-leading technologies, it offers deep flexibility to meet a wide range of private cloud requirements.

Why CenturyLink?

End-to-end solution: With CenturyLink, you gain a single, end-to-end solution that integrates networking, infrastructure, management, and consulting services. You have one vendor to work with to manage and optimize your environment.

Deploy a Next-Generation Private Cloud with CenturyLink

Management flexibility: With the CenturyLink Private Cloud, you can choose to manage the entire environment on your own; allow CenturyLink to manage only the infrastructure through the operating system; or have CenturyLink manage everything, allowing your in-house staff to focus on other projects.

Deploy a Next-Generation Private Cloud with CenturyLink

Customization: Start with straightforward sizing options, then customize your private cloud to meet specific needs. Choose from an array of robust networking options, optimize the infrastructure configurations for your workloads, select the right combination of management tools, and incorporate DR and security capabilities.

Deploy a Next-Generation Private Cloud with CenturyLink

Experience and expertise: Planning, deploying, managing, and optimizing a private cloud can require significant resources. CenturyLink has unmatched experience and expertise with private clouds. Work with CenturyLink experts located around the globe, close to wherever you are.

 

Deploy: How Can You Ensure a Smooth Transition?

Moving to the cloud is rarely as easy as flipping a switch. Before you deploy an application in a cloud, you need to determine the best type of cloud environment for that application and how the application might need to be modified to run in the cloud.

Be sure you can answer the following interrelated questions:


  • Will the application work as-is in the cloud? Or does it need to be reconfigured or redeveloped?
  • What level of network performance is required?
  • How will you address security?
  • Is this a mission-critical application? Do you need to replicate the application in a second environment to help ensure high availability?
  • Will moving this application to the cloud deliver the return on investment that you need?

You also need a plan for conducting the actual deployment, including configuration, testing, and migration processes. In addition, you need strategies for scaling the application in the future, maintaining governance, securing networks and data, and providing fast, easy access to users. These plans and strategies go beyond basic tools, simple checklists, and manual ad hoc testing.


  • Testing: Implement an automated testing process that helps ensure thoroughness, increase efficiency, improve performance, and reduce risks.
  • Governance: Incorporate tagging in the deployment process. The tags could identify the type of application, the name of the person updating it, the sensitivity or classification of the data being used or stored, and the policies that will be triggered if the application fails.
  • Scaling: Capitalize on automatic scaling capabilities to help ensure the application has the resources it needs, when it needs them, without requiring manual intervention.
  • Security: Develop a security strategy that enables you to anticipate and mitigate cyber threats across a hybrid network architecture. Your strategy should help you safeguard critical data, applications, and systems while controlling costs and management complexity.
  • Self-service: Provide a way for users to tap into standard application builds and on-demand resources without a lengthy requisition or approval process. Users should be able to choose from a catalog of applications that have budget approval and comply with corporate policies.
 

Manage: Do You Have the Expertise and Capabilities to Manage Your Clouds?

Before you go through with the deployment of a private or hybrid cloud environment, you need a plan in place for managing its ongoing operation. What are your options, and when would you choose each?

In-house management

If your organization has the in-house resources and expertise to manage your multi-cloud environment, you might decide to administer your clouds on your own. In-house management might be necessary if you have unique security requirements, legacy applications, or highly customized environments.

Fully managed

At the other end of the spectrum, your organization could completely offload cloud management. With the right cloud services provider, opting for a fully managed approach allows you to tap into deep expertise and round-the-clock global support while enabling your in-house staff to stay focused on other, more strategic projects.

Shared management

Your management choice is not all-or-nothing. For example, if you implement a private cloud in a colocation facility, you could allow a cloud provider to manage the hardware, virtualization layer, and operating system while you retain control of the application.

If you decide to manage even a small part of your cloud environment, you have to be prepared. You need to go beyond manual monitoring of hardware utilization and manual patching. Implementing automated capabilities helps keep applications running while enabling your organization to make the most of your cloud investments.


What are the key components of managing your cloud? Monitoring, tuning, scaling, and securing your cloud are interrelated elements that must be part of your management strategy.

  • Monitoring: In addition to monitoring your infrastructure and applications, you need to retain visibility into performance of all their dependencies—from networks to databases. The best solutions offer automated real-time monitoring, across environments, and administration through a single pane of glass.
  • Tuning: You need insights into the performance and availability of your cloud environments so you can tune your applications in real time, before users experience any problems.
  • Automated scaling and recovery: What happens when an application needs more resources? Or a hardware or application component fails? Automated scaling and recovery capabilities help ensure that your application scales seamlessly and recovers quickly without requiring extensive manual effort or 24x7 staffing and response.
  • Security: You need network-based security capabilities that can mitigate risks to your network and data assets, even as you expand to support new mobile, bring-your-own-device, and cloud initiatives. Any new security solutions or services should offer multi-layered protection against evolving threats. They must also be efficient, enabling you to control capital and operational expenses.

If you have multiple clouds, you need solutions designed to facilitate the use of the best platform and environment while reducing the complexity of managing a variety of cloud types from multiple vendors.

  • Platform-agnostic: You might want to use AWS for software development, Azure for DR, and a CenturyLink Private Cloud solution for a customer-facing app. You need tools that will allow you to support all those types of environments and vendors without limitations, so you can use the best execution venue for each application.
  • Operational efficiency: Managing a multi-cloud environment should not require numerous disparate tools. You need a single solution that lets you deploy, orchestrate, and administer all your cloud environments in a consistent, standard way.


Addressing Cloud
Complexity 


 

Addressing Cloud
Complexity 


How can you realize the promise of the cloud in a complex, multi-cloud world? Learn how CenturyLink helps simplify multi-cloud management.

Streamline Multi-Cloud Management with CenturyLink Cloud Application Manager

The CenturyLink Cloud Application Manager platform enhances the efficiency of managing your growing multi-cloud environment. An integrated collection of cloud-agnostic tools and services, Cloud Application Manager gives you the flexibility to select the best management approach for your organization. You gain management consistency across an increasing variety of public, private, and hybrid clouds.

Cloud Application Manager offers:

Application Lifecycle Management. Tap into a complete feature set for automating application build, deployment, and run-state operations, including scaling, updating, migrating, and managing your application. Accelerate deployment and enhance efficiency with governed and standardized application deployment models across cloud environments.

Streamline Multi-Cloud Management with CenturyLink Cloud Application Manager

Managed Services Anywhere. Provision and automate managed services from CenturyLink directly through the Cloud Application Manager. Set up monitoring, patching, remote administration, and backup for any cloud environment, including third-party service provider clouds.

Streamline Multi-Cloud Management with CenturyLink Cloud Application Manager

Cloud Optimization and Analytics. Gain true, multi-cloud enablement. Easily provision, migrate, and scale hybrid cloud instances, and facilitate billing and support—all through a single, centralized platform. Bring your own provider or provision resources from Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and VMware. Or select CenturyLink resources, including CenturyLink Private Cloud on VMware Cloud Foundation. Capitalize on recommendation engines that help you identify required resources to support your particular applications according to your security, processing, geographic, and cost requirements.

To learn more, click here.

 

Optimize: How Can You Continuously Improve Your Cloud?

The cloud lifecycle doesn't end with deployment or management. You need a strategy for continuously optimizing your cloud environment—enhancing performance, fine-tuning delivery of new resources, increasing efficiency, addressing emerging risks, and more.

The first step to optimization is taking stock of what you have. You need real-time visibility into which cloud resources your organization is using, what they cost, and how they are secured and governed. That visibility helps you reveal underutilized resources—such as abandoned development environments—so you can spin down or repurpose those resources.

Then you need ways to make adjustments to help maximize the value of the cloud. Beyond the performance-tuning capabilities that are key for management, you need the ability to right-size your environment, providing sufficient resources for each application without overprovisioning. You need to forecast usage so you can find the right execution venue and continue to provide the correct levels of performance at the right cost as prices and requirements for your workloads change.

Real-time risk and compliance management capabilities are critical to safeguarding data and adhering to regulations. Using artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities can help you tag data—labeling particular data as personally identifiable information (PII) or credit card numbers, for example—and then prevent application changes that could jeopardize security or compliance.

Optimize Your Cloud with CenturyLink

Make sure you are continuously working to maximize the value of your cloud. Add tools to improve capacity planning and security for your private cloud, and tap into CenturyLink expertise to fine-tune every aspect of your environment:

  • Capacity planning tools: With the CenturyLink Private Cloud on VMware Cloud Foundation, you have the option to integrate VMware vRealize Operations Manager to better understand utilization of cloud resources. You can pull in logs from vRealize and gain clear visibility into how specific virtual machines (VMs) are being used so you can adjust resource allocations or redistribute applications across clusters.

  • Real-time network provisioning: CenturyLink Cloud Connect Dynamic Connections enables you to establish secure, high-performance cloud and data center connections quickly and easily. You can rapidly deploy new cloud-based applications and services, and scale up as necessary, to keep pace with ever-changing business needs.

  • Security capabilities: The CenturyLink Private Cloud solution enables you to incorporate VMware vSAN data-at-rest encryption capabilities to enhance security. If a shared key isn't adequate for your organization, you have the flexibility to incorporate your preferred encryption key manager solution. Your organization can control when new keys are generated and limit who can access each encryption key.

  • End-to-end expertise: Beyond the particular tools you can add to your private cloud solution, CenturyLink offers deep expertise for optimizing the environment. And with an end-to-end CenturyLink solution, experts can take a holistic approach to optimization. They can help you achieve the right balance of performance, risks, costs, and more by fine-tuning everything from the hardware and network through the various software layers.

 

Get Started

Whether your goal is to further expand your IT resources, increase agility, offload some IT management, change your spending model, or all of the above, there are more clouds in your future. Preparing for the full cloud lifecycle can help ensure that your organization is ready and able to maximize the value that all your cloud environments can deliver.

CenturyLink can help you address each phase of the cloud lifecycle. For each application, you can choose the right cloud, the right network, and the right experts. In addition to public and private cloud offerings, CenturyLink provides a cloud-agnostic management platform and extensive end-to-end services to help you plan, deploy, manage, and optimize your multi-cloud environment.

Learn More

Visit these pages to dig deeper into CenturyLink solutions that help streamline your path to the cloud.

CenturyLink Cloud

CenturyLink Private Cloud on VMware Cloud Foundation

CenturyLink Cloud Application Manager

CenturyLink Hybrid IT Cloud

CenturyLink Business Application Hosting