Cloud 101: Understand the Plan

cloud plan

Cloud questions

Moving to the Cloud is a good move in most cases HOWEVER – It’s not as easy as most service providers want you to believe. If the analysis isn’t done properly up front it can lead to poor performance, interruptions in business, and, what I am currently seeing, costs getting out of control quickly.

CIO’s and CFO’s are rightly asking:

Why are our IT Budgets significantly higher?

Wasn’t the Cloud supposed to save us money?

The Reality – The Cloud is not for everything and everybody!

You need 2 things from your service provider:

  1. First and most important – Due diligence
    Your service provider should understand your business and make that the priority 1. For example: Recently I have seen two companies, one an engineering firm and the other in the Insurance industry, that have very dynamic IT needs. These needs were clearly not understood and documented in the detail that was needed to ensure a successful cloud endeavor. Both company’s need to spin up and down environments for pre-determined times. So who’s managing this?
  2. Which leads to my second point – Education
    During the discovery phase, service providers need to make sure that whoever manages the cloud provider/vendor is made aware of the pricing model and supported content to manage the environment properly, what to expect and what controls need to be implemented to ensure environments are managed correctly.

The bottom line is: Many providers are on the bandwagon to sell Cloud. A lot of them don’t have preferred hosting partners and focus only on the transitional services. So clients must understand:

  • whether discovery or due diligence services are provided
  • whether that report includes recommendations regarding which applications should move to the Cloud and which should stay on premise
  • what hosting partner or Cloud service is recommended
  • estimated ROI

Cloud strategy is critical to Cloud success, even if clients have to enter these unchartered waters on their own.

Cloud 2012 Redux

Ready for Cloud-01

You shouldn’t have to commit everything at once

This year will be remembered as the year the cloud moved beyond the realm of “Back to Time-Sharing” or a curio for greenfields and start-ups.  While Software as a Service (SaaS) is interesting, it can not be a center piece of your IT infrastructure or strategy due to its limited scope and cost/scalability metrics.  By the same token, every IT system is not a greenfield opportunity, and most require a steady evolutionary response incorporating the existing infrastructure’s DNA and standards.

Just illustrating a “private cloud” with a “public cloud” next to it does not cut it.  What does that really mean?  Ever wonder what is really in that cloud(s)?  Better yet, in safe understandable steps, explain it; cost benefit 3-5-7 year projections, organizational impact for IT and business process, procedural impact for disaster recovery, etc.  Sorry, “Just buy my product because it is what I have to sell!” does not work; I need a tested time-phased architectural plan, with contingencies, before I commit my company and job.

For the first time in the continuing cloud saga, we have been able to put together and test a “non-aligned” approach, which allows an organization to keep IT infrastructural best practice and not “sign-in-blood” to any individual vendor’s ecosystem.  With the proper design, virtual machines (VMs), can be run on multiple vendors’ platforms (Microsoft®, Amazon.com®, etc.) and on-premise, optimized to cost, performance, and security. This effectively puts control of cost and performance in the hands of the CIO and the consuming company.

In addition, credible capabilities exist in the cloud to handle disaster recovery and business continuity, regardless of whether the supporting VMs are provisioned on premise or in the cloud. Certain discreet capabilities, like email and Microsoft Office™ Automation, can be “outsourced” to the cloud and integration to consuming application systems can be maintained in the same manner many organizations have historically outsourced functions like payroll.

The greatest benefit of cloud 2012 is the ability to phase it in over time as existing servers are fully amortised and software licences roll-off and require renewal.  Now we can start to put our plans together and start to take advantage of the coming margin-cutting wars of the Cloud Titans in 2013 and beyond.