Is Cloud Computing More About Business than Technology?
Focusing on cloud initiatives as a technology problem rather than business realignment can be a major mistake. Success in the cloud comes from more than just telling your CTO that you want your systems on a cloud platform. It requires a shift in overall business strategy and clear messaging from leadership on down.
You need to identify your business goals and work backwards from there to figure out how specific cloud technologies can help solve them. This may involve the creation of a cloud team or adjusting your organization to be an agile, “DevOps” style operation.
Ultimately the core technologies your team will use in the cloud aren’t much different than the old model of IT (at least if you were already virtualized), but they do require a shift in your business model to better use the flexible resources available from cloud computing, or the development of a plan that boosts efficiency, reduces costs, and thereby improves your bottom line.
Here are a few tips to keep cloud strategy front of mind.
Identify Business Drivers
How can you prove the success of a cloud initiative without knowing the metrics to compare it to? Simply replacing your infrastructure in the cloud demonstrates little and could even end up costing more over time.
Some business drivers for moving to the cloud could be:
- disaster recovery
- adding additional compute resources
- a specific event like seasonal spikes in usage
- performance problems
- an application or hardware upgrade
- testing and development servers
- moving from a CapEx hardware management model to an OpEx virtual model
- increasing efficiency or flexibility
Set concrete benchmarks for whichever driver is pushing you towards the cloud and reexamine it in 6 months to a year.
Make Sure End Users Are Attended To
Don’t have tunnel vision when it comes to your tech. Be sure to poll your actual users to make sure their needs are being met. What challenges are they facing? How can cloud services help them reach their business objectives? Operate as a service provider with your users as your internal “customers.” That also means soliciting — and listening to — feedback regarding the delivery of IT services. The cloud makes it easier to test and implement new servers and applications, so testing a user suggestion takes less effort and could lead to a productivity breakthrough.
Use the Correct Cloud for Each Process
Different portions of your business may use different cloud deployment models. Financial or sensitive data might require a private cloud with specific compliance standards. The overall strategy of your cloud deployment depends on the eventual business outcome.
This is why a hybrid cloud deployment might be a vital step towards your eventual cloud goals. Different virtual data centers or VM templates can be managed from a single pane, allowing you to segment based on business goals or other requirements. You can also connect your existing on premise infrastructure to the cloud to add virtual resources as needed.
Don’t Lose Sight of Ongoing Operations
Migration is only step one of a cloud project. Once you’re up and running, you need to maintain security, scale, updates, and performance. If your team doesn’t have the bandwidth (pun intended) or skills to stay on top of the cloud environment, you might need some managed services. Don’t misjudge the full scope of a cloud deployment.
The culture of cloud is different than on-premise. You are consuming and delivering services and your IT team must act as a service broker of sorts while still working on the application, server, and end user experience levels.
Without keeping the business rationale for the cloud in mind, you risk losing sight of the full scope of cloud operations, leading to cloud sprawl, rising costs, and ineffective service delivery. All members of your C-suite should be regularly consulted and updated on IT initiatives and how they tie into each department and line of business. By thinking like a business person, you can fully realize the benefits of the cloud.