How my company went 100 percent cloud

A drunk driver expedited our cloud migration. Here's how we swapped in-house apps for the cloud equivalents in record time

Last year I wrote about my New Year's resolution to go all-in with the cloud. I expected to do this gradually. Then disaster struck.

My company, Open Software Integrators, is like many small to midsize consulting firms. We do high-end projects that, among other things, provide reliability, disaster recovery, and scalability. But like the shoeless cobbler's kids, we were a bit lacking in our own infrastructure until a few months back.

[ Also on InfoWorld: How IT can learn to stop worrying and love the cloud. | Stay on top of the cloud with InfoWorld's "Cloud Computing Deep Dive" special report. Download it today! | From Amazon to Windows Azure, see how the elite 8 public clouds compare in InfoWorld Test Center's review. | For the latest news and happenings, subscribe to the Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

At the time, we still had a couple of quad-core Dell R200s with far too many VMs running far too many things. The maintenance wasn't too bad on average, and aside from a few services, we could tolerate being down for a while. I mainly wanted to "go cloud" because we were (and are) doubling in size every year and I didn't want to create my own internal IT department.

Then, while I was away on a business trip, I got a wakeup call ... literally. Our office is in downtown Durham, N.C., in a historic district that is now home to hot startups, incubators, and incredible breweries (which have turned the neighborhood into a craft beer watering hole). While we've grown into a multi-million-dollar operation, we're a mom-and-pop consulting shop above a paninotecha (which means "sandwich shop" in Hipster Italian).

One night around 2 a.m., a fellow had a few too many -- and while fleeing a hit-and-run, drove his SUV directly into the beauty shop next to the sandwich shop. He severed the gas line. The fire department showed up, cut the power, and broke down our doors to vent the gas. Scarily enough, one of our staffers was in the building, having forgotten something she needed for a trip to India. Luckily, no one from the cigar bar came to check out the scene with a lit stogie in hand, so she was unscathed.

Our servers were down for eight hours, and various services were intermittent for at least 12 hours. Had things been worse, we could have lost everything. Like our customers, we needed HA and DR. Moreover, we thought, maybe our critical services like email, our website, and Jira should be in a real data center.

This made going all-cloud a top priority for us rather than "when we get to it." Fortunately, we already had a lot of cloud experience. Also, we mainly write custom apps for other people; most of our internal systems are stock.

Our hurry-up migration plan
Some of our systems were already in the cloud. In particular, we were already prolific users of Dropbox for backup and file sharing, Quickbooks Online for accounting and payroll, and Expensify for expense reports.

Ascending to the cloud

Service

Existing

Service provider

Website

Drupal

Synaxis

Mail

Zimbra

Gmail

Calendar

Zimbra

Google Calendar

Bug/issue/time tracking

Self-hosted Jira

Atlassian-hosted Jira

Security

OpenDJ

Google Apps

CRM

Self-hosted SugarCRM (community)

Sugar On-Demand

Wiki

MediaWiki

Google Docs

DNS

Bind

Godaddy

VPN

OpenVPN

No longer needed

Revision Control

Subversion

BitBucket

This chart shows our company's in-house services and the cloud services that replaced them.

We've been running this way for a few months. Some of these services have been reliable, economical, and easier. Others need revision or are riding a declining satisfaction curve.

1 2 3 Page
Mobile Security Insider: iOS vs. Android vs. BlackBerry vs. Windows Phone
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies