To ensure a smooth transition to cloud computing, an organization should develop an overarching cloud strategy which creates the foundation for project-specific adoptions. Cloud computing presents interesting business model opportunities to organizations of all sizes. Developing a business case and strategy that clearly articulates how cloud computing will transform key business processes like procurement, marketing, customer acquisition and support, product development, etc. is critical. Within the context of an enterprise strategy for cloud computing, individual business problems that cloud computing can potentially address need to be identified, and specific business justification must show that cloud computing is the right strategic alternative. High level value propositions for cloud computing, including the shift of capital expenditures (CAPEX) to operational expenses (OPEX), cost savings, faster speed of deployment, elasticity, etc., are necessary but insufficient unless quantified. Obtaining executive support for the initiative is critical. Executives from IT, Lines of Business (LOBs), procurement and executive management must review and approve the business plan before proceeding. Getting key executives on-board early in the process will help alleviate potential issues down the line. When developing an enterprise strategy for cloud computing, the considerations highlighted in the following table should be taken into account.
Key Elements of Strategic Planning
Element of Strategic Planning
Strategic Planning Activities
Educate the Team
All team members (IT, business, operations, legal and executives) must be educated on what cloud computing is and what it is not. Establish a common definition of cloud computing (including terminology) for the entire organization so everyone is in sync. Using cloud computing is an iterative process in which new services build on previously implemented services, adding value to existing IT environments.
Establish both short and long term plans
Create an organization-wide master blueprint and roadmap for adoption. Map cloud computing benefits against existing business problems to identify potential solution areas. Anticipate the variety of disruptions that may occur both inside and especially outside IT (service levels, security, legal, vendor management, etc.). Leverage long-term planning interoperability, portability, and ease of integration up front.
Understand required services and functionality
Determine business case and potential ROI and/or potential new revenue opportunities. Leverage enterprise architectures, standards and industry frameworks to help accelerate the collection of service information and improve consistency. Customer facing services require separate categorization and analysis from internal services.
Execute a thorough cost analysis
The overall cost of application migration to cloud computing must include the following elements: On-going cloud services costs Service management License management Application re-designs Application deployment and testing Application maintenance and administration Application integration Cost of developing cloud computing skills Human resources and talent management implications
Assess the impact to service levels
For each application being migrated to cloud computing, consider the impact on the following application and characteristics: Application availability Application performance Application security Privacy Regulatory compliance
Identify clear success goals and metrics to measure progress
The team sponsoring the project must include success factors in their proposal. Metrics need to be agreed to by executives making the final decision to proceed with the project. Define benchmarks for the existing service before launching the new service in order to determine its impact. Clearly identify trigger points to be measured. Develop a cloud adoption roadmap.
Consider the existing IT environment
Develop a complementary cloud adoption strategy with a focus on integrating and leveraging existing technologies and standards. Develop a strategy to ensure that any existing services to be migrated to cloud computing will continue to comply with standards. Leverage reusable internal services to improve delivery efficiency of customer facing services.
Understand legal/regulatory requirements
Customers of cloud services must understand the responsibilities associated with their respective national and supranational obligations for compliance with regulatory frameworks and ensure that any such obligations are appropriately complied with. Some examples of legal/regulatory constraints upon electronically stored information are as follows: Physical location of the data Data Breach Personal Data Privacy Data destruction when the corporation no longer wants the relevant data available or transfers it to a different host Intellectual Property, Information Ownership Law Enforcement Access Service Availability With over 150 countries having ratified the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and an increasing focus on accessibility regulations, it is important to establish a plan for ensuring accessibility compliance. Understand cloud service specific deployment standards and compliances required by various industries, for example, FISMA & FedRAMP for US Federal government agencies.
Identify required skills
Map required skills against available skills. Develop a plan to enhance internal skills to address potential gaps. Consider external skills as an option for addressing gaps.
Track results for an extended time
Reinforce that the objective of implementing the new cloud service has been achieved. Identify any trends that may need to be addressed to improve the existing service or contract for a new service to take advantage of the trend.
Understand the exit process
An exit clause should be part of every cloud service agreement Understand the details of the exit process including the responsibilities of the cloud service provider and cloud service customer The exit process should include detailed procedures for ensuring business continuity-it should specify measurable metrics to ensure the cloud provider is effectively implementing these procedures The most important aspect of any exit plan is the retrieval and preservation of cloud service customer data