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Softchoice is Taking Cloud Customers to New Heights

Julija Noskova, VP Marketing at Softchoice, loves a challenge. As a marketing leader, her role is critical to driving growth at Softchoice and enabling more customers to achieve business transformation success. Throughout my career, I’ve chosen roles that were new, risky and challenging, designed to drive change. It made me learn how to operate amid ambiguity and add value fast. I embraced digital and social practices when these were new in the world of sales and marketing. In my leadership role here at Softchoice, I help design and implement digital transformation strategies–both for ourselves and for our customers–to elevate sales and marketing performance.”

The Softchoice Challenge

Ranked as one of the largest IT solutions and managed services providers in North America,[i] Softchoice is challenging their customers to think differently about how technology can drive business outcomes and create better experiences for employees and their customers. Softchoice believes that approaching technology projects, or technology acquisition, the same old way is no longer sufficient. Companies need to be more agile. This is true whether a customer is reacting to market pressures or wanting to innovate with new products or go-to-market business models. Speed is the new scale.[ii]

· 96% of IT leaders cite the current cloud-computing skills shortage as a key barrier to adoption[iii]
· 31% of organizations have experienced cloud migration failures due to human error[iv]
· 57% of IT leaders have exceeded their cloud budget, some by over 50%[v]
· 54% of IT leaders report that their teams struggle to form a cloud strategy[vi]

Softchoice as a Mentor

As Softchoice began to think about how they could partner more effectively to help their customers succeed, the idea of a mentoring model was born.

“We scoured the market to understand companies’ cloud migration challenges and learn how we could make a difference. Organizations need help with their digital and cloud strategies, and our response has been to create something new–a mentoring process to make their transition experience easier. Our customer’s journey doesn’t end when the sale is made–it’s just beginning. We mentor and educate, guiding them through each stage of their adoption or migration, setting them up for success. We ask a lot of questions, too. We challenge and rarely accept the status quo. We are constantly looking for the gaps that might impact our customers’ ability to reach their goals.

We truly are with them every step of the way, which means that when our customers are successful, we are successful. NetApp operates in a similar fashion. Their strategies for helping customers on the digital transformation journey are all about collaboration, education and mentoring, so that customers can make the right choices. We rely on NetApp as a partner, often bringing in skilled NetApp resources to help design the right cloud architecture for specific customer workloads. That is one reason why our partnership with NetApp is so strong,” says Noskova.

Data Fabric Delivers a Multi-Cloud World

NetApp’s data fabric[vii] vision (an architecture and set of data services that provide consistent capabilities across a choice of endpoints spanning on-premises and multiple cloud environments) enables Softchoice to deliver a cloud-first mandate in a multi-cloud world. That includes embracing hyper-scalars like Microsoft and AWS, as well as private cloud solutions that technologies like FlexPod can deliver.

“Most organizations need more than just the public cloud, and that is where technologies like FlexPod deliver tremendous value with their validated designs for multi-cloud architectures. It means the solutions have a stamp of approval for performance and scale. It completely de-risks the decision for the customer,” says Noskova.

Yet, despite all the cloud buzz, many organizations are still sometimes hesitant to make the transition.

“People need help with their cloud migration. Moving workloads or data is not just a ‘lift and shift’ procedure–there’s a strategic process involved to ensure that the right cloud is identified. That could mean public or private, on-premises, co-located or managed service. That’s where we can help,” adds Noskova.

Speeding to Cloud – A Success Roadmap

Softchoice created the Softchoice Cloud Accelerator to provide planning, migration, mentorship and management support for customers. The accelerator increases cloud knowledge and sets the foundation for future success.

Softchoice believes that cloud migration isn’t easy. By taking advantage of the Softchoice Cloud Accelerator and following the five key stages Cloud Adoption process, customers will have everything they need to build their expertise, determine the right plan and migrate successfully to the cloud. Noskova shares the Softchoice Five-Stage Cloud Adoption Process with us here.

Softchoice Five-Stage Cloud Adoption Process

Stage 1: Gap Analysis

Through this process, companies can conduct a self-assessment on the usage needs of various stakeholders within the organization and identify the gap between where they are currently and where they want to be. A gap analysis will help identify:

  • Your organization’s average usage/consumption
  • Your current configuration
  • Current costs associated with keeping your data center running
  • Expected monthly costs in the cloud
  • The affect on other business units within your company

A gap analysis is a collaborative process that requires input from various stakeholders. While it may seem like a huge endeavour, it is worth the effort in the long run. The insights about your organization’s IT requirements will enable an informed transition to the cloud.

Stage 2: Get Moving

Softchoice does not recommend rushing to transition every workload to the cloud, but momentum is key. By deploying an important yet manageable workload, you can gain the experience that will help to build your transition plan, and demonstrate success and value to your organization, while minimizing complexity and risk. Remember to be mindful of dependencies so there are no unpleasant surprises lurking around the corner. This stage also helps to create buy-in from various stakeholders and overcome any concerns from various lines-of-business within the organization.

Stage 3: Planning

The ability to move certain workloads to the cloud may depend on how easily you can move other workloads on which they are dependent. First, determine the business impact of transitioning any workload to ensure there are no negative outcomes. Meet with stakeholders and present migration scenarios, then create a phased transition roadmap; moving workloads in stages can make your cloud adoption much simpler and more manageable.

Assessing the security requirements of workloads before moving them to the cloud is an important step. Are there compliance or regulatory responsibilities that need to be addressed? This will impact your design process and determine whether a service provider is offering everything you need or if you have additional responsibilities that need to be considered.

Stage 4: Migration

One of the greatest features of any hyper-scalar is the unlimited availability of infrastructure and resources at a moment’s notice. This enables you to scale up or down quickly and easily, based on your organization’s usage needs and eliminates the need to purchase costly equipment to prepare for peak performance periods. But there are costs to everything. You will need to determine whether you want a workload fully deployed on the public cloud or if you simply want to be able to utilize resources on demand.

Cloud is a Model, Not a Place

Remember that the cloud is a model, not a place–it’s not a location to put all your data and applications. This means a different approach for most IT groups and your migration strategy needs to be viewed through that lens.

  • Take advantage of scripting engines and templates that your service provider will have; these will enable to you migrate your applications to the cloud quickly and scale them as needed.
  • Automate your maintenance and updates using third-party tools that allow you to configure automated updates in the cloud, with no impact on the production environment.
  • Use automation as part of your cloud strategy to reduce complication; automation is an important aspect of operational governance, controlling consumption and costs. Policing cloud use and fulfilling cloud resource requests can be an enormous drain on IT resources without automation.

Stage 5: Optimization

Along with transition, you will need to focus on refinement on an ongoing basis. New technologies and methodologies are evolving at a rapid pace and these tools provide you with the ability to improve performance, reduce costs and improve compliance.

While cloud and automation reduce the time the IT team spends on administration, staying on top of rapid changes that affect your organization is a full-time job. The good news is that there are many tools to help you with this management.

Modernizing Your Data Center with the Right Hybrid Cloud Architecture

As you consider modernizing your data center and transitioning to the right clouds, the Softchoice guide 5 Stages to Successful Cloud Migration can provide you with lots of tips and tricks to make your transition easy–and successful. Or benefit from one-on-one support by scheduling a Softchoice Cloud Accelerator meeting. We’d love to help you get started today.

[i] https://www.softchoice.com/about-softchoice

[ii] https://siliconangle.com/2018/10/23/speed-new-scale-data-fabrics-highway-says-netapp-ceo-netappinsight/

[iii] https://www.softchoice.com/solution-studio/cloud-services/public-cloud-accelerator

[iv] https://www.softchoice.com/solution-studio/cloud-services/public-cloud-accelerator

[v] https://www.softchoice.com/solution-studio/cloud-services/public-cloud-accelerator

[vi] https://www.softchoice.com/solution-studio/cloud-services/public-cloud-accelerator

[vii] https://www.netapp.com/us/info/what-is-data-fabric.aspx

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