Pick your first cloud project
The thought of moving an IT workload to the cloud can be daunting. With Gartner predicting that 50% of organizations will be using hybrid cloud by 2017, and IDC saying that 85% of current software development is for the cloud, this trend can no longer be ignored. In order to be successful, it is crucial to start with an appropriate project. In our experience, you should pick something that fits the following criteria:
- The Quick Win
As with any IT project taking a structured approach when moving applications to the cloud is always going to deliver better long-term results than the try and see approach.
Consideration 1: Urgency
Choose a project where you have identified an urgent need and where the introduction of a cloud service is not going be extremely disruptive. One of the strongest drivers for moving to the cloud is the ability to implement a new service much faster, compared to a traditional IT delivery. This speed is useful to be able to prove a valuable point to your stakeholders and show how your company can benefit from this IT agility.
Is the first or next cloud service going to be something that is a replacement of existing IT or new functionality? Typically the business decides on the priorities but often it is useful to survey the managers and users to ensure you have not missed any of their hidden pain points.
Speak to your line-of-business managers and ask them:
- What are your top priorities right now?
- What is your biggest IT challenge in your department?
- What do your users need to be more efficient?
From this information, decide where you can make the biggest impact with minimal disruption when moving a workload to the cloud.
Consideration 2: Importance
Can you identify the key business drivers for your company? A very common goal is IT or cost efficiency. The economies of scale allow cloud providers to offer services at a lower overall cost partly because you are only paying for what's being used and this increases the overall economic efficiency of the IT solution. An important financial driver can be avoiding significant up-front capital expenditure. Also consider non-financial IT drivers such as scalability, flexibility, and agility. Lastly, what are the efficiency improvements such as enabling mobility, distance-working, and collaboration?
Traditionally it has been a part of the procurement process to get your IT vendor to provide an ROI when making significant investments in new technology. In a new world of cloud delivered IT, it is unlikely that your provider will do this. Therefore, you might need to consider how to build the business case for your proposed solution.
Create a simple Excel model that shows the costs, spanning three years, of the proposed solution, cloud as well as traditional IT delivery. Ensure that you take all costs into account including the potential business efficiency benefits of each one. Also consider the cash-flow implications, your CFO or CEO is always interested in improving cash-flow !
This article from CIO.com identifies 8 ways KPI's to measure cloud RIO
Consideration 3: Quick win
Identify quick wins
The project should be manageable whilst still solving an urgent business issue, of importance to the company. Building a cloud solution can be an iterative process and this is to your advantage. By starting small, you reduce the opportunity for mistakes during the learning phase and "getting to know you" period. As a result, you will increase the likelihood of success.
Now that you have identified a beneficial solution that is going to deliver a real return for the business try to think how to get going with minimal disruption. Consider moving some test and development servers, or deploy to a team or group of users that are exceptional at giving useful feedback.
Once you have clarified your objectives, communicate them clearly to all stakeholders and fail small and win big. Cloud IT allows you to so this. Deploying cloud is a new paradigm for IT pros where the possibility of a production-ready proof-of-concept is so much easier and potentially faster than it used to be.
Execution and learning experience
Your first project will be a learning experience. If you are successful, you will be able to demonstrate quick time-to-value and build confidence in cloud services. It will be a catalyst for the next cloud project and help you to develop your skills and necessary experience for the next phase of running more services and applications in the cloud.
There are many good reasons to move to the cloud. However, no criteria or solution fits all organizations. Consider your business drivers when moving your workloads to the cloud. Plan thoroughly, cost the project accurately and ensure you have the right tools to manage and to support your cloud services and the people using them.