October 23, 2014
These days, it’s easier than ever to make business decisions with the swipe of a credit card or the push of a button.
With the advent and subsequent popularity of cloud services for business, more and more business executives are falling into the trap of signing up for business services online and trusting automation to take it from there.
Compare this to the pre-cloud era, when potential suppliers were discovered through word of mouth, professional directories and phone calls. The process might have been tedious, but it ensured intelligent decision making through more extensive research.
Experts say that, although cloud is “the new outsourcing*,” the process to implement cloud (and consequently reap the benefits of cloud computing should be much more carefully considered. Though it might be tempting to adopt a hands-off approach, leaving it all to automation could be dangerous. It’s crucial to think about cloud as “outsourcing in a new form.”
And while it’s essential to find out not only how cloud fits into your business, it’s also important to know what strategic plans will help your business achieve its goals.
In a recent study by the IBM Center for Applied Insights,† authors Marsha Trant and Romala Ravi compiled a list of advice from prominent IT professionals in various industries.
Essentially, it all boils down to this: Apply the same due diligence to cloud engagements that you’d apply to traditional outsourcing engagements.*
Prepare to invest more time and effort evaluating cloud providers and point solutions (e.g. their platforms, development roadmaps, contingency plans) – and don’t be surprised when the environment gets even more complicated as internal stakeholders jump in.
Remember, it’s up to you to evaluate the players, spot potential pitfalls, and keep business leaders involved throughout the process.
Cloud is a relatively new phenomenon – which means that security concerns are a big deal (see: Security Advice From Cyber-Experts). Acknowledge these concerns with help from your provider (i.e. meetings about security measures) and always require assurances.
From there, it’s never a bad thing to cover your bases. For instance, require audit reports and security assessments, confirm that security protocols are in place and set up ad hoc checkpoints.
Keep your expectations high throughout your interactions with strategic vendors. If they don’t offer their own cloud recommendations, initiate the conversation ASAP.
Demand a steady flow of innovative ideas from your vendors to establish business case development, prioritizing which workloads to shift, and how best to integrate across platforms.
Cloud services require everyone to be in sync on solution selection and implementation. Procurement, contracting and governance processes will need modification. Keep stakeholders engaged by getting business buy-in on implementation and migration.
Prepare for transitions, keeping business leaders informed of outages – timing, impacts, duration – and enlisting their help during migrations.
Take the time to think about potential integration issues (e.g. data-sharing and process inconsistency among multiple data centers) and future plans (e.g. how you’ll manage a multi-vendor, hybrid environment) – facilitating well-orchestrated and productive interactions within your network of providers.
In addition, consider naming one focal point for integrating cloud services, whether an internal resource or a trusted vendor.
* McKendrick, Joe. Cloud May Be The New Outsourcing, But The Same Due Diligence Must Apply, Forbes.com. Forbes Media LLC.
† Trant, Marsha and Ravi, Romala. Cloud bound: Advice from organizations in outsourcing relationships, IBM Center for Applied Insights. IBM Corporation.