Cloud computing has turned the technology world on it’s head. Some argue this is a bad thing. However, I believe it is a great thing and something we need. For some time, businesses have requested more and more from IT organizations. Several years back, cloud computing came about and provided a significant opportunity for IT organizations and the businesses they serve. However, cloud is not just a change in technology.
With significant changes in innovation come changes in the way we think. Cloud is no exception. It presents a new way for delivery of services. For IT organizations, this means changing who delivers the services. It means thinking differently about how services are delivered and how relationships are maintained. Further, the fundamental nature of the relationship has changed too from transactional to value. Even within the technology realm, the focus moves from operational to integration. There are many more changes that must be considered when introducing cloud-based solutions.
Traditionally, solutions often focused on their technical merits. However, cloud-based solutions require a bit more thought and planning. Change impacts not one, but three aspects: Technology, Process and Organization. When considering a cloud-based solution, it is important to take a holistic viewpoint and consider all three aspects. Not considering a holistic view for the solution spans the range from an un-sustainable or failed solution (worst case) to bringing limited value (best scenario).
Focus on Value
In order to see value, one must first set assumptions aside. A common assumption is that technology solutions must reside within my own data center. With IaaS, PaaS or SaaS, that is often not the case. Sure, there are private cloud offerings that allow creation of a cloud within your own data center. However, the cloud marketplace has started to mature and external solutions provide an interesting array of opportunity…and value.
When looking at value, consider the holistic approach. Consider the impact to the technology, processes and the organization. The value from a solution may come from surprising areas. When picking the right solution, consider the expertise and value of both the internal IT organization and the provider.
From Operations to Integration
Cloud presents the start of a shift in responsibly. The responsibility moves internal IT organizations from an operational role to an integration one. Does this mean IT does not have operational responsibility? No. It means that the day-to-day management of operations moves to the provider. IT still needs to trust-but-verify the provider’s actions. In doing so, it shifts IT’s focus to integration of infrastructure, platforms, applications and services. These are opportunities for IT and move the pendulum toward better management of data…and more importantly information.
Some argue that cloud is simply outsourcing v2.0. It is not. Unlike past iterations of outsourcing, cloud presents a completely different model. That can be gauged through relationship, technology, integration, value or process…just to name a few. Applying past outsourcing models to cloud provide a number of challenges. Cloud requires a new way of thinking and operating. Changes in processes and responsibility are just two (of many) examples.
Bottom Line: When considering cloud-based solutions, don’t get caught up in technical assumptions. Take a holistic approach to focus on value opportunities.