The risks and rewards of the cloud have long been analysed, and cloud has moved beyond the "proof of concept" stage to become a viable business model within the enterprise. But as a business model, cloud is disruptive
. It changes key processes, alters strategies and brings about upheaval in the workforce as key tasks are shifted from in-house to the cloud provider. A decision to "move to the cloud
," despite the obvious benefits, is not to be taken lightly, and is seldom done on an enterprise-wide scale all at once except in the case of much smaller companies. The move requires an analysis of which areas would benefit most from the move, and careful attention to the inevitable changes that will result.
In "Deploying the enterprise cloud," Cable & Wireless Worldwide notes four crucial steps to cloud adoption
, starting with ensuring that clear benefits are evident and can be achieved. It is easy to get caught up in the hype, and when a decision maker is presented with an argument that "we must move to the cloud," the proper response is to ask, what will it cost, what are the risks, and what will we get out of it?
Secondly, the enterprise must ensure that the new cloud services
continue to work with existing technology within the organisation; and thirdly, ensure that any data being transmitted to a cloud data centre remain secure, auditable and accessible. The final point is to ensure that performance from the end user perspective continues to remain the same or better before the move to the cloud
The popularity of the cloud is evident, but the uptake could be better. Many cloud providers are focusing on their key deliverable (infrastructure or software as a service
), without considering the migration path, integration with traditional applications and on-premise services, and overall strategy. Cloud is more than just a service, it is a new corporate way of life. It is the biggest change since the Industrial Revolution, and it cannot be delivered simply as a piece of technology. Offering cloud as simply another technology carries the risk of confusion, inefficiency and lack of integration, thereby shielding the cloud customer from the cloud's greatest benefits. Cloud providers that have been most successful recognise the impact, offering their cloud services as being more than technology by providing greater strategic insight, and additional tools and possibly consultation to ensure a deep level of integration, and assistance with the inevitable change in business model that the cloud brings.
Working with a Managed Service Provider is often more advantageous than simply purchasing cloud solutions from pure play providers. The cloud does offer reduced costs, deferment of capital expense, better responsiveness and more business agility. But those benefits can only be obtained if the cloud is deployed strategically, and with a clear strategy that is linked to business benefits, a migration path, and integration with existing platforms.