Simon Bolster, Principal Consultant, FINEOS
The technology world has been abuzz with talk of cloud-this and cloud-that for a few years now. Some people understand it, others understand it a bit – while many people and organisations are unsure how to even get started with it.
It can be daunting for sure – but the potential benefits are vast and compelling, and with just a few small steps you can get your feet wet without a need to re-design software or take a Masters degree in cloud engineering.
Most organisations – be they a software house, an insurance group or any other – have many software environments with very different attributes and requirements. In a software organisation these range from development environments to test builds, from customer support environments to presales demonstration facilities. Insurance companies may have development, UAT, pre-production, disaster recovery and training environments, among others, in addition to their main production systems.
This diversity of often self-contained software environments provides a ready opportunity to experiment and gain experience with cloud-based services in a low-risk, low-cost manner. As an independent software vendor (ISV), in FINEOS our first foray into the world of Cloud was to migrate some of our customer demonstration systems from our “local cloud” to a “virtual private cloud” running in a well-known cloud infrastructure.
Taking a self-contained VM, a machine which included an MS Windows Server operating system along with an application server, database, email server and many other components, we uploaded that VM directly into the virtual private cloud. Hey presto – we had a high performance system used for demonstrations up and running in the cloud! We have never looked back since, with cloud-based systems in widespread usage throughout FINEOS.
Once you have a system – any system – running in the cloud, you can experiment with the various bits and pieces that go together to make it all work, such as security settings, different machine sizes (CPU and RAM) and so on. Start small and simple, and build from there. There is no end to the free documentation, guides and support available online to help you every step of the way.
It seems to me that this is an ideal way to break the ice and get your organisation up and running in the Cloud. Taking a self-contained non-production system – perhaps a training or UAT environment – and uploading it to one of the many mainstream cloud providers allows you to gain confidence and experience with cloud services, with minimal risk and at very low cost.
What’s holding you back?