Cloud computing services from a business viewpoint – Part 2: How to implement

Cloud computing services from a business viewpoint – Part 2: How to implement

Original posted by Robert Koornneef on Wed, Jan 30, 2013

As mentioned in my previous blog, the implementation of a cloud solution is not a pure IT project.  Most of the time, an implementation of a cloud solution—especially in case of software-as-a-service or “SaaS”—will have an impact on the entire business.

If you are thinking about implementing a cloud solution, what is the right approach? What is needed to stay in control during implementation and once the solution has gone live?

Cloud “readiness” check
It is best practice to validate that there are no functional limitations or restrictions to migrate or add IT solutions into the cloud. Therefore a check needs to be performed in close cooperation with the audit, compliance, legal and business teams. It is also advisable to review current service level agreements and validate that there are no restrictions based on client contract limitations. Since many contracts or SLAs can be several years old, it’s also wise to check with your clients in case of doubt. A list of items to review could consist of:

Limitations

  • Legacy or complexity
  • Virtualization
  • Licensing model
  • Maturity of the market or solution
  • Governance model

Restrictions

  • Data classification and privacy
  • Data ownership
  • Legislations
  • PCI / Patriot Act / Safe Harbor

Another topic for organizations to consider is the changing influence on the IT solution based on the chosen cloud model. This illustration shows the change of influence for each cloud model:

Cloud -influence

Preparation
When a decision has been made to implement a cloud solution, step-by-step preparation is essential. As mentioned, there is a need to approach the project from a business perspective and ensure that the project team has a clear understanding on the following topics during the preparation phase:

  • Business and client demand: do we have a clear picture of the business services portfolio, the future roadmap and the current financial models?
  • Architecture, both business and IT: Do we know the business solution and its requirements, the related compliancy and legislations and do we know our IT landscape and lifecycle?
  • Usage: have we metrics on the usage of our systems, current volumes and a forecast of the expected volumes?

Implementation approach
Implementing cloud services into your IT solution has the characteristics of outsourcing and the same methodology with four basic outsourcing phases can be applied. The understanding gathered during the preparation phase can be used for the next steps: 

Define strategy

  • Scope of IT, application and service, based on a transformation roadmap and aligned with business and IT
  • Requirements, both functional and nonfunctional
  • Financial models
  • Governance models

Make Selection

  • Market investigation
  • Long and short lists
  • Due diligence
  • Financial scenarios
  • Check on exit options
  • Contracts

Deploy

  • Business and IT project managers
  • Define contingency exit strategy steps during implementation
  • Define governance, roles and responsibilities

Manage and control

  • Set measurement parameters and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for usage, performance and finance
  • Innovate and align with business according to volume, forecast and changing requirements
  • Periodic benchmarking

A change in the organization
The implementation of cloud solutions will change the way organizations work. The role of the IT organization will shift more to a facilitator role, to coordinate the business IT requests with the cloud solution providers.  The business teams—especially with the use of SaaS solutions and if they really want to benefit from cloud solutions— need to stick to the standard functionality and avoid deviations. What we often see is that even for software used only for internal process support, the business unit may force the IT team to make adjustments and add-ons to the standard functionality while it is usually more beneficial to in the broad scope to simply make adjustments to the standard functionality, otherwise the benefits of using hassle-free software are jeopardized, especially since future updates or upgrades of the SaaS solution must also then be re-designed

Conclusion
When you are planning to adopt/implement a cloud solution make sure that you are aware that the Cloud Computing market is still changing. Make sure that you stay in control to ensure business continuity. Validate that all legal aspects are known and taken into account. And do not forget that the business needs are leading.