Prepare for cloud adoption

11 Points to Prepare for Cloud Adoption


Friday, July 08, 2011 | James Glenthorpe

With cloud adoption rapidly accelerating, today’s IT leaders must learn to execute dramatic shifts in IT technology, processes and staffing, or else suffer the consequences of poor cloud integration. What steps should decision makers take to ensure their departments and organisations thrive inside the cloud? The following are eleven essential points to prepare for cloud adoption in today’s IT environment.
 
Prepare for the shift. It can be tempting to simply move services into the cloud, without first taking steps to make significant internal adjustments. But IT organisations that fail to recognise the role-shifting effect of the cloud may  find themselves at a serious disadvantage. Lackluster cloud performance, limited functionality, lower IT performance, and a disappointing TCO are all possibilities. IT leaders must take an active role in implementing IT organisational improvements in technology that will align them with the cloud, improve overall cloud performance, and enhance value capability.
 
Restructure IT and manage the cloud. The accessibility of the cloud may entice management to bypass IT entirely when it comes to technology decision making. Avoid this scenario by positioning IT as the in-house expert on assessing, comparing, implementing, and monitoring cloud services and vendors. This shift can significantly raise the value of IT, ensuring better alignment with management, more influence on the organisation’s business strategy, and greater trust within the organisation. What happens if IT fails to manage the cloud? In most cases, upper management will choose to sidestep IT and access cloud applications directly, resulting in a less influential IT department and uneven cloud services.
 
Extend IT influence. Cloud computing offers an unprecedented opportunity for IT to extend its influence, capacity, and business advantage. For years, the focus of IT was on maintenance. The cloud not only offers an opportunity to change the perception of IT, but also to extend its influence within the organisation. The cloud effectively allows IT departments to allocate more human talent in the areas of IT strategy and business critical initiatives. However, this shift requires IT departments to learn to integrate multiple vendors and services, manage vendors, and reevaluate the department’s internal skills.
 
Make use of traditional outsourcing skills. Traditional outsourcing requires many of the same skills needed for working inside the cloud. For instance, both cloud services and outsourcing involve product and service evaluation, contract negotiation, and regular performance monitoring. Outsourcing experience is a major asset that can be useful in cloud integration and utilisation. However, IT must remain heedful of the unique opportunities and difficulties of cloud services that may not have been part of traditional outsourcing.
 
Understand the principle of organisational uncertainty. Organisational uncertainty occurs when an IT organisation no longer appears to fit the needs of a business model. In this case, IT may begin to feel strong political pressure from upper management, who may proceed to phase out part of the organisation. There are four basic categories related to organisational uncertainty. The first is the sense of intensely strong social, political, and economic pressures, which may make at-risk organisations more susceptible to budget cuts. The second has to do with frequent breakthroughs in technology, a sign that an organisation may be under intense pressure to keep up to date. The third is related to low reliability of resources and services, and the fourth has to do with the stability of demand for the organisation's products or services. Evaluate the uncertainty of your IT department and avoid future uncertainty by adopting a clear direction.
 
Reduce IT risks by adjusting your organisational design. Making adjustments to your organizational design can help reduce IT risks through proper leveraging of the cloud. Identify factors of environmental uncertainty and make appropriate adjustments to technology, processes, and people to realign IT with the cloud. If no adjustments are made, IT runs the risk of under utilising the cloud and losing control over the technology decision making process.
 
Modify key technologies, processes, and roles. Map out specific risk factors and identify ways to reduce the risk of uncertainty. For instance, identify environmental risk factors such as social, political and economic pressures, frequency of disruptive technological changes, reliability of resources and supplies, and product demand stability, then make proactive adjustments to key IT technology, roles, and processes to minimise these risks.
 
Integrate, reduce costs, and increase performance. These three steps offer an organized approach to adjusting IT technology for maximum cloud utilisation. Create a seamless, hybrid environment by integrating in-house IT services with cloud services. Reduce costs by staying on top of cloud services TCO and comparing them with possible alternatives. Leverage the cloud’s economies of scale and free up resources, thus increasing the overall performance and functionality of IT.
 
Balance cloud performance with security. After cloud adoption, allow for full utilisation of the cloud and increased cloud migration by balancing technical standards with security standards. This can be quite tricky, as it is easy to stunt potential innovation with overly rigorous security standards. There are certain security standards that may constrain cloud performance. These include stringent security expectations, extensive touchable data and transparency, too much confidence in the cloud’s internal capabilities, and an intolerance for multi-tenancy. Balance these security factors with increased performance factors, including increased uptime, faster implement time, less maintenance and support overhead, and the cloud’s economy of scales.
 
Manage the cloud as part of the IT infrastructure. Once standards are in place, take an active role in managing the cloud as an important part of the existing IT infrastructure. The goal is to create a hybrid environment that is the best of two worlds. Decide which services should be migrated to the cloud, and which should be managed in-house. Streamline the process by labeling services as either cloud ready, cloud radar, or don’t cloud. Cloud ready are those services that would be better served by moving them into the cloud. Cloud radar services are those that require stricter security and performance requirements, but which may be moved to the cloud in the future. Don’t cloud are highly secure services that contain proprietary information that should not be handled by a third party.
 
Actively facilitate cloud-based services. Don’t allow cloud solutions to bypass IT. This not only causes future integration and support problems, it can also severely limit IT’s influence on future decisions. In order to build trust and credibility within an organisation, IT must be responsive to end-user requests for cloud services, and be willing to suggest alternatives.
  
 
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