Photo: Eric Haissaguerre
It's obvious now the cloud adoption is a reality and its benefits are quite alluring. You have probably heard them all in zillion presentations, industry forums and articles: cost savings, agility, scalability, the ability to move capex to opex. Yet, there's a pertinent question that is hardly raised at all in most discussions: "How prepared are you to reap all the benefits of the cloud?"
This is an important question and one that I frequently put to customer organisations in Asia Pacific. All too often, many organisations with large IT departments do not examine their operations deeply enough before they embark on their cloud transformation. They do not plan for the new business environment dynamics that cloud will bring into the organisation.
While cloud solutions can bring more value and agility to an organisation, if the organisation has not prepared itself for the change, then calculations of anticipated return on investments (ROI), lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and other benefits can go awry.
When considering cloud, CIOs must consider answering these questions:
- What is your organisation's existing infrastructure and its support model?
- How do you match the existing infrastructure with the organisation's business demands?
- Is your infrastructure a DIY model or do you have components of managed services?
- Should you take a slow and gradual approach or introduce a sudden 'big-bang style' change?
- What governance and security policies does your organisation follow?
- What are the inter-dependencies among business applications and the expected changes?
The answers will give you and the cloud provider critical understanding of your cloud needs. Even if there is a compelling business event like the need for infrastructure consolidation, refresh for end-of-life systems or the challenges of delivering 24x7 support, the correct cloud model to adopt will depend on the answers to this self-assessment. They will guide the organisation in selecting the most appropriate cloud model--public, private or hybrid--as well as which components of the cloud best suit it and when they should be implemented.
Once CIOs are clear about the internal environment and the solutions available, external factors need to be considered. Requirements for compliance, business continuity, data protection, response time are equally important and will play a part in deciding the cloud model and controls you need. While these may appear relatively less critical initially in comparison to the infrastructure transformation needs, CIOs may be unpleasantly surprised at the consequences of ignoring these factors.
Performing a readiness assessment at the onset is paramount to achieving the business case benefits. CIOs need to assess every aspect: the existing infrastructure, datacenter, network, application licenses as well as the transition and transformation, service delivery methodology and compliance requirements.
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