Throughout 2011 and 2012 so far, it has been interesting to see how organisation’s cloud computing projects have begun to turn from strategy to reality. From plan to execution..
In my role at Symantec, I am lucky enough to be involved (to a greater or lesser extent) in various cloud initiatives both in the form of end-user IT organizations building “private clouds” or consuming external services and service provider organisations building public offerings. Through this work, I am constantly struck by how traditional IT service management and risk management disciplines remain crucial and relevant to these modern projects that sit on the leading edge of IT.
In addition, new lessons are bring learned by organisations who are building (or consuming) “clouds”. Many of these lessons are not complicated and, in hindsight, seem obvious. They are lessons, however, that will kill a cloud project stone dead if not considered early and planned for meticulously..
Here are a few “lessons from the field” that I have gleaned over the past couple of years that might help you in your own cloud initiatives:
- “Plumbing” – Do you know the capabilities and limitations of your internet connection ? Cloud computing relies heavily on secure, high-performing and available connections to the internet. Do not make the assumption that what was “good enough” for traditional IT service will be good enough for cloud.
- “Do You Value Your Existing IT Assets ?” – What does your current IT asset register look like ? How long before your existing hardware can depreciate fully and be written off to the satisfaction of your financial officers ? I have seen many “ROI” calculations for cloud fall at this hurdle.
- “What Are Your Users Holding ?” – How are your consumers of cloud service going to access and use cloud applications ? Remember: This is likely to be THEIR choice not yours ! Think 2-3 years out… We probably will not be talking “desktop PC’s”.
- “Getting Data From Here To There” – How will you migrate your companies data assets into your proposed cloud service ? How will regulation and the law affect your ability to do this ?
- “Bringing the Users Along” – How will you migrate your users to new cloud services ? Piece-meal ? Big-bang ? What training will you provide ? A perfectly functional and technically sound cloud solution will fail quickly without user support. Education (as always), is key.
These lessons are often overlooked by IT organizations, not because they are difficult to comprehend or even plan for but because they are not, typically, high on the priority list (when compared, for example, with vendor selection or technical architecture design). Ignore them at your peril..