To the public cloud, with both feet on the ground

To the public cloud, with both feet on the ground

18 March 2024

There are many reasons to make the move to the public cloud. And they’re all good reasons, too. Still, it’s a big step, which you need to take with consideration and good preparation. Recent research by Beltug also shows that opinions remain divided. As experienced experts, Inetum is happy to help you start your journey to the cloud correctly and bring it to a successful conclusion. We’ll help you get started with tips from our cloud experts.

By Rik Delva, Solution Manager Cloud and Bram Deschagt, Technical Consultant Cloud

Beltug, the association for ICT decision-makers in Belgium, recently conducted research to gauge the concerns and trends related to data use in the cloud. The results show that 51% of surveyed organizations are concerned about storing data in the cloud, while 49% are not worried about it. These percentages are comparable to those of 2021. The main concerns are chiefly related to security, storing sensitive data outside Europe and backup in case of serious supplier problems. This may also explain the trend of Belgian organizations increasingly adopting a pragmatic, customized approach (case-specific analysis) to the cloud and opting for a hybrid cloud. Inetum recognizes that there are many good reasons to make the switch to the public cloud, but at the same time stresses that this needs to be a considered decision. We asked our experts why the choice of public cloud remains attractive.

Application modernizing and operational optimizing: an inseparable combination

We cannot repeat this often enough: a migration to the cloud offers more than just a technological upgrade; it can help lay the foundation of your digital business. Make the move to the cloud for the right reason: to help your business. Besides a desire to invest in digital innovation, such reasons may include the promotion of sustainability, improving data management or modernizing applications.

Speed and innovation are paramount

Customers and partners expect the business to be able to move quickly when an interesting new service or other promising innovation suddenly emerges. However, over the years, this business has become increasingly dependent on IT support, and this very support is now under increasing pressure.

There are many factors making it increasingly difficult for IT departments to meet the business's growing demands. For starters, they now often have to do more with fewer resources: lower budget, and fewer staff. Add to this that everything is digital these days and the technology itself is only getting more complex. The logical consequence is that the average IT department necessarily spends most of its time on operational IT tasks, leaving very little time to support new, more strategic initiatives that directly benefit the business.

Key advantages: flexibility and security

The good news is that the public cloud provides an answer to all these challenges. For example, the flexible cost structure allows you to do more effectively with the same or fewer resources. In the cloud, you only pay for the IT capacity you need now (opex). You no longer pay for an estimated IT capacity that you may need in the future (capex). Thanks to this flexible invoicing or financing model, you can spread your costs over time in a much more targeted way. At the same time, in the cloud it is easier to expand or scale down your IT capacity according to your needs.

That same flexibility, applied to technology, allows you to effectively move faster in the public cloud. After all, being able to work with off-the-shelf building blocks is a typical feature of cloud technology. That can allow you, for example, to put together a new solution that will quickly make new functionality available to the business. Thus, it fosters a competitive advantage that a traditional data center is not likely to offer, if only because you can't create additional IT capacity as quickly. In the traditional center, the lead time to deliver something new to the business—and thus also the time-to-market—is longer by definition.

Finally, all this out-of-the-box functionality also makes the staffing problem much less dire, as the cloud offers many built-in tools—for monitoring or patch management or infrastructure deployment, for example—that allow you to extensively automate your IT management. The right policies can also automatically ensure that the infrastructure stays in line with the business rules or compliance objectives that need to be met. As a result, not only will you be able to use your IT resources a lot more efficiently, but your IT staff will also be able to focus much more on their core tasks. Meanwhile, more time is freed up for IT tasks that provide greater added value for the business.

The cloud also has a lot to offer in terms of security, although there are unfortunately still much misunderstanding and preconception surrounding it. In the meantime, however, independent audits have more than convincingly shown that public cloud services offer a very high level of security. A provider such as Microsoft Azure also provides an extensive catalogue of useful security tools and services to ensure this, allowing you to apply all required security measures to the services you purchase from their public cloud.

Step 1: Analysis and assessment

Once you have been won over to the public cloud, the question of how best to make the move to that new IT environment arises. As with any IT project, good preparation is half the battle. So, everything starts with a planning phase. Starting from a concrete business question or need, you will define your goals in this crucial starting phase, possibly also defining KPIs or measurement points, and perhaps even develop an initial proof-of-concept, in order to develop a clear, achievable cloud strategy on the basis of all this.

Once this strategy has been properly established, it is also important to carry out a thorough analysis and assessment of your existing IT environment. For your convenience, Microsoft provides its own service for that: Solution Assessment. As a certified Azure partner, Inetum can offer that cloud service as well. Good to know: as part of such an assessment, we do much more than just inventory. We simultaneously seek to rationalize and optimize available IT resources as much as possible.

Finally, we draw on that objective inventory to help translate your cloud strategy into a concrete and practically implementable cloud plan. To be clear, companies often don't come knocking on our door until later in that planning phase, but even when creating a business case and developing a strategy for cloud adoption, our experts can already lend you a hand. The same applies to budgeting: you can always count on us for that part of the exercise, to reduce your licensing costs, for example.

Step 2: Design

Before you begin the actual cloud migration, you still need to shape and set up the foundations of that new environment. Migrating to Microsoft’s public cloud is largely about setting up an Azure Landing Zone: an environment predesigned according to a set of Microsoft best practices. Using such a landing zone ensures that your application workloads (e.g., websites, but also virtual machines) can land in the Azure platform on a standardized basis. Landing zones guarantee a repeatable and consistent approach to both construction and operational management of your IT assets in Azure.

The nature of the foundations you still need to shape in this design phase is quite diverse: from all sorts of security aspects, such as setting up rules for identity and access management, to choosing a network that can provide the connectivity you need. After all, moving the servers themselves is a straightforward process— the migration of everything attached to or running on these systems (applications, data, functionality, to name but a few)—that demands the most attention. We are happy to help you solve that connectivity and integration issue as well. The truth is, most organizations and their IT environments today are hybrid in nature, operating partly offline and partly online, partly locally and partly in the cloud. So it is important that they be capable of communicating with external applications and collaborating with third parties.

Step 3: Implementation

Once all these foundations are in place, you can proceed with the actual cloud migration. Even during that adoption phase, we don’t limit ourselves to the migration process alone. At the same time, we want to enable as much innovation as possible. With this goal in mind, we will also immediately formulate proposals for optimizing your cloud environment right away.

In doing so, it’s quite possible that some of those best practices will have already yielded quick gains in the previous, preliminary phase. These might include cloud solutions for backup, monitoring or patch management that help reduce operational costs or unburden your IT staff in their operational management.

Step 4: Commissioning and aftercare

In fact, with those managed services, we have already arrived at aftercare. We actually recommend that everyone combine the traditional IT environment maintenance with managed services that (further) automate the operational management of that environment. By taking as many repetitive operational tasks out of the hands of in-house IT professionals as possible and handing them over to a specialized IT partner like Inetum, much more time is freed up for strategic, business-critical IT projects.

So much for the four essential steps in our Inetum approach, which relies to a large extent on the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure.

Don’t forget the user, either

Characteristic of our approach is that it is an iterative learning process, where you continuously build on the lessons and experiences from previous project phases. So we’d like to close with two important additional tips from our experts who can help make a difference. First, don't forget to test enough, before, during and after the migration. Second, make sure you take as many as possible of the various users along on your journey to the cloud, as soon as possible in the process. Otherwise, that journey is doomed to fail in advance.

Want to learn more?

Are you planning a cloud migration? The Inetum and Microsoft joint service,Migration and Modernization Solution Assessment, you get a perfect picture of your current environment and data, derived from our sophisticated tools, and real-time data. Our assessment also provides you with a clear technical roadmap, including comprehensive business cases, to support your chosen cloud strategy for your IT infrastructure, data and applications. Click here for more info on our approach

Are you interested? Would you like to know whether your organization qualifies for our free assessment? Do you have a question or comment for us? Then feel free to contact our experts at without obligation.