How to overcome cloud computing hurdles

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An important part of cloud services roadmap planning is understanding what your current environment offers in terms of functionality, costs, time, and quality. This is a real challenge to many organizations. For example, many organizations are not fully aware of how many servers (physical or virtual) are currently in production or what their individual running costs are (e.g., electricity, employee costs, license costs). Without an understanding of the current situation, it is much harder to make informed decisions about whether your current pricing model such as asset ownership is better or worse than a charge-per-transaction pricing model. Metrics such as availability, utilization percent, and application network and data requirements are needed so that you can analyze and compare the expected results from utilizing cloud services against the current environment.

In addition to understanding your current environment, you must identify and assess the risks, barriers, and opportunities you expect when adopting cloud services. Doing so enables you to identify the specific cloud requirements that your organization needs.

These requirements drive the creation of the overall program and project plans focusing on resource needs, costs, risks, time, and deliverables.

When defining your future vision for the adoption and use of cloud services in your organization, consider your high-level goals and principles that will be utilized to guide the entire cloud services adoption roadmap. These principles lay the foundation for the cloud architecture, and most important, are the basis on which cloud governance decisions can be made in a defensible and repeatable fashion.

The gap between your current state and desired future state identifies key program-level activities that should be given priority when defining your cloud services adoption roadmap. Cloud services are not a panacea, and therefore not all applications can or should be moved to the cloud. Review your project portfolio to decide which projects will be implemented in the cloud. This tends to be an easier approach than taking an existing application and updating its design to be implemented in the cloud. Consider your data privacy policies, project complexity, cost, risk, and business criticality. Involve as many parts of the organization as required to identify the appropriate projects and to alleviate its concerns. This includes involving departments such as security, audit, and legal.

We cannot recommend which cloud services your organization should adopt because there is no one way to leverage cloud services for your business. However, organizations have typically focused on public cloud services that provide noncore functions, for instance, email, collaboration tools, and on-demand testing environments, as well as to serve websites that have seasonal peaks in website traffic and supply customer relationship management (CRM) services.

These low-hanging fruit cloud services have been chosen primarily for their benefits around cost savings, lack of any real integration work required, lower network latency and security requirements, and minimal political pushback. As both the public and private cloud services marketplace matures, so will the confidence levels rise of cloud service consumers, and with it we will start to see organizations use cloud services in other major areas. The speed of cloud service adoption and the types of cloud services consumed are dictated by your organization's characteristics, as discussed earlier.

After you have identified and prioritized the appropriate projects, you can then derive your cloud service requirements from the needs of these projects, which can lead to the development of a cloud service consumption model that details which cloud services will be consumed (and how, by whom, and when). This leads nicely to your cloud vendor sourcing strategy; that is, whether you intend to fulfill the cloud service consumption model with internal services hosted within a private cloud, use a public cloud service, or use a mixture of the two that meets your requirements.

Summary

We are in the early phases of cloud service adoption, and the marketplace has many hurdles to overcome. Nevertheless, organizations today are realizing the benefits that cloud services offer. As your maturity and comfort levels increase over the years, adapting your cloud service adoption roadmap will be critical. This article has covered organization types and related characteristics when adopting cloud services and the potential pitfalls and risks you may encounter. This will give you a heads-up as to some of the near-term challenges you will need to address in your roadmap.

Key points to consider are:

  • A cloud services adoption roadmap consists of program-level efforts and a portfolio of cloud services.
  • Program-level efforts provide and enforce the necessary consistency required to succeed at cloud service adoption.
  • Without an adoption roadmap, there is a higher chance that you will encounter challenges that may undermine your organization's effort to realize the benefits of cloud services.
  • Make sure that your vision and expectations for utilizing cloud services are realistic for the maturity of your organization and the cloud services marketplace.

This article is excerpted from the e-book Silver Clouds, Dark Linings: A Concise Guide to Cloud Computing by Archie Reed and Stephen Bennett. Reprinted with permission of publisher Pearson/Prentice Hall Professional, copyright 2011, all rights reserved.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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