Why change management is critical to cloud success


And other lessons on cloud adoption and management.

Managing services, applications and workloads in a cloud environment is different to on premise. Not better or worse, just different. These differences are more marked in public cloud, but apply to private cloud and hybrid cloud as well. So getting people ready for the cloud journey is as important as preparing the strategy and plan and working on the technology.

A move to public cloud especially will most likely change the nature of some people’s jobs – which may have been performed the same way for many years. Some functions will stay the same, some will transform, and some may disappear. (Some may of course be passed onto a service provider.)

For example, some tasks that system admins have been doing for twenty years will need to change with public cloud. Take server outages: traditionally seen as a problem to be investigated or rectified in on premise or even highly virtualised environments. Many monitoring toolsets raise alerts at outages and trigger processes aimed at rectification. But in a public cloud environment, where machines may be switched off anytime when they are not needed to provide a service, this set up needs to be amended.

Even if a workload does cause an issue in this environment, it can be readily destroyed and a new one redeployed in its place. This action can be logged for review in the morning rather than cause a major alert. In this context, the traditional mindset of a server down always equating to a serious issue needs to be updated, along with the related processes.

So people will need to reskill and think differently to ensure successful cloud service delivery. This need may be reduced if much of the management is outsourced to a third party, but there will always be a learning curve of some kind required to ensure the business can make the most of its partner’s or partners’ services and support.

There is often understandable resistance to these changes. Change management is therefore a crucial aspect of any transition to cloud and a key consideration to build into cloud strategy and planning. As part of the transition stage of cloud adoption, we spend time with customers to explain what is to change operationally, from a people and process perspective.

The positive flipside of all this challenging change is the huge opportunity for individuals and organisations alike to be empowered and prosper in the cloud era.

With public cloud in particular comes much potential automation of traditionally manual processes. The same can be said of private cloud or even traditional environments, of course, but these kinds of systems by definition have limits that public cloud does not. Nevertheless, with any cloud environment, automation of processes is an important reason why it offers more benefit to an organisation than legacy infrastructure.

The server destroying and redeploying process described above can in fact be wholly automated, with no manual intervention necessary to maintain the service. This mentality of coding and automating is another mindset shift that people need to make to get the most out of cloud.

More automation means that a single engineer may be able to manage 300-400 virtual machines instead of many fewer. It also means that they can focus less on servers, as such, and more on what they deliver. That is, they can get more involved in higher value activities, such as capacity planning and service management and delivery. As automation progresses, these same engineers may become more strategic and powerful in terms of the scale and importance of what they oversee and control.

This and other essential lessons on cloud adoption and management, learned by Datacom over years working at the ‘cloud face,’ are contained in a new white paper available for download now. If you would like to talk to us about it, or cloud adoption and management in general, then please get in touch at cloud@datacom.co.nz.

The what, why, where and when of cloud strategy and planning

Connected Building

Finding the right approach to cloud is crucial to maximising the benefits of its adoption. For major endeavours in particular, it can make the difference between success and failure.

Indeed, the more you use cloud, and the more you shape your organisation and its people, processes and technology to exploit it, the more important having a considered cloud strategy and plan becomes.

One reason for this is because making the most of cloud – especially public cloud – is often as much an organisational issue as a technological one. Having the right people, with the right skills, and the right processes in place are key.

Most important of all though is focusing on the business first and technology second. The ultimate goal, after all, is to figure out the best way to use cloud to get desired business outcomes.

Determining this involves asking what, why, where and when questions, such as:

  • Why does cloud stack up for your organisation?
  • What current or new business services will cloud help to deliver better than the status quo?
  • When should certain workloads be moved to, or built for, cloud?
  • Where is the best place for the workloads involved to run?

And that’s true whether you eventually decide to embark on a full-scale cloud migration; leave legacy IT where it is for now and take a cloud-first approach to new applications; run a Proof of Concept in public cloud before committing further; or do something else entirely.

To provide more detailed advice on how to define the best cloud strategy and plan for your organisation, wherever it is on its cloud journey, we’ve produced a new paper, which is available for download now.

It outlines a five-step process based on Datacom’s technology-independent approach to cloud planning, which has been honed over the course of many different projects for a diverse range of organisations, including Zespri, Fairfax, Aussie Home Loans and Brisbane Festival.

Even if you already have a comprehensive cloud strategy, the stages presented in the paper can work as a checklist. If you are just building a playbook for cloud adoption at this stage, then by all means lift elements from it and incorporate them into your guiding principles.

Or, if you don’t know where to start to craft a strategic approach to cloud, then look no further.

We use the framework in this flexible manner, according to our customer’s needs. If you’d like to talk to us about it or planning for cloud in general, then please get in touch on cloud@datacom.co.nz.

Why Your Cloud Architecture Design Should be a Top Concern

Figures from the global job web site Indeed.com show that the number of job postings for cloud architecture design rose 15 per cent between January 2009 and January 2013. Cloud architects are what they sound like: IT professionals who can help businesses plan, design and deploy cloud services. The rise in these roles is directly related to the growing awareness that cloud architecture design is not a matter that should simply be left to internal IT staff. To properly plan a cloud deployment, you need professionals knowledgeable in a range of cloud platforms and providers, in addition to applications and workloads  all ever more important as a multi-cloud approach becomes more appealing to organisations. Here’s why it’s important to take cloud architecture design seriously and enlist the right resources to plan it.

Application performance and availability

Depending on your organisation, you might have workloads that have low or partial utilisation levels, such as batch processing, or workloads subject to dramatic spikes in traffic, such as public-facing apps. Your workload types will affect the type of cloud platforms or services you choose. Effectively matching the right workload to the right cloud platform takes thorough understanding of each application’s needs, required computing power and traffic patterns and storage and compliance standards. Cloud architecture design assesses the requirements of all cloud-ready workloads in your organisation to discover the best options available.

The security of your environment

Every business has its own set of security needs  in fact, security concerns were once the top barrier to enterprise cloud computing. Security is built in through the cloud architecture design and development phases. When you understand or have been involved in the cloud architecture design, you will know exactly how the environment behaves and how it is secured. For instance, some cloud platforms allow customers to create user accounts to provide access to their systems and remove users who have left the company or changed roles. Workloads can be delegated amongst the right internal resources, reducing the risk that the wrong individual or business unit will gain access to sensitive information.

The steps to doing cloud architecture design well

By enlisting the expertise of cloud architects, you organisation will go through a detailed process that will ensure needs are fully understood before designing or choosing a cloud platform or multiple platforms for you. These steps include:

  • Gathering of requirements: Cloud architecture design, business, functional and non-functional requirements and creation of a cloud readiness assessment report
  • Design: Technical cloud architecture designs, implementation plans and migration preparation using identified requirements as inputs so you get a tailored cloud solution
  • Testing and proof of concept: This ensures your cloud architecture design is “proven” and will work the way it is intended to when launched
  • Implementation and build: The use of all the previous steps to construct and deploy your cloud service
  • Migration services: Formulation of the migration strategy that suits your business needs and implementation with proven methods
  • Post-migration support: Decommissioning of your old infrastructure, documentation of your cloud architecture design and handover to your IT team.

If you are looking for help planning cloud architecture design, Datacom’s Professional Services team can create, implement and manage your strategy.

Q&A: The Future of Cloud and Evolution of Multi-cloud in Australia and New Zealand

Cloud services in the Asia-Pacific region are expected to deliver a compound annual growth rate in excess of 30 per cent from 2012 to 2016, according to the IDC. The way these services are consumed by organisations large and small is beginning to change. Businesses are starting to shy away from purely private cloud configurations in favour of more scalable and agile multi-cloud configurations. We talked with Rob Purdy, Director of Cloud and Tools for Datacom, on what this shift means and how Australian and New Zealand organisations can take advantage of what cloud has to offer.

Q: In your opinion, what have been the key barriers to entry for cloud computing amongst enterprise organisations?

A: There have been a number of key barriers for enterprise customers adopting cloud, mainly around security and sovereignty of data. I think that’s been a problem in the past but I think that’s actually becoming less and less of an issue as time goes on with cloud.

The other barrier is just pure knowledge. Knowing what’s out there and knowing how to embrace it and basically how to leverage it back into existing business processes has been quite challenging.

Q: What are the top three areas organisations should consider when thinking about using cloud services, regardless of the type or number?

A: One of the top three areas that businesses need to consider when adopting cloud is security. So considering, “How secure is my data with a third-party provider?”

The second one is sovereignty. We might have to worry about state and federal law in Australia, but also if the cloud provider might be based in the US, you have to worry about US law. Not only that, but they may house the data in Singapore, therefore, we’re operating under Singaporean law. So that basically creates a complex matrix of law that we need to worry about.

And the third part is really about IT and the business talking together, making sure that when decisions are made, they are cognisant of the impact they will have on the business going forward.

Q: How can organisations prepare themselves now for a path to cloud adoption?

A: Businesses can prepare themselves for a path to cloud adoption by basically getting IT to talk to the business. All too often, IT sits in the back office and thinks they know what the business is doing and the way applications are being used. I’ve been involved recently with a customer where, effectively, IT thought they had a number of applications that were no longer used by the business. When we went out and actually talked to the business, they found out those applications were still very integral to the overall business process. So it’s really important for the IT department to get out and actually discover what’s going on in the business.

Q: What are some aspects of the cultural shift that needs to happen for an organisation to fully embrace cloud from top to bottom?

A: The business needs to really talk to IT and IT really needs to talk to the business. The other thing is they actually need a change agent in the business who understands the way technology can be mapped back into business processes by using cloud. Maybe consider putting in a CDO or a chief digital officer as Gartner’s alluded to recently to help that transition of the business going from traditional IT infrastructures into cloud or multi-cloud.

Q: Up until recently, there seemed to be a big push for organisations to decide public vs. private. Recent research from firms such as Forrester shows that hybrid and multi-cloud approaches are becoming more considered amongst organisations. Why has there been this shift?

A: Yes, it’s interesting that Forrester has pointed out that it used to be people were thought just to go straight to public clouds, but over time, it’s been quite apparent that a multi-cloud approach or a hybrid cloud approach has been adopted. And really that’s because no one cloud solves every problem. It really comes down to the fact that you might need a number of clouds to solve it, whether that be on-premise with a private provider or a hybrid provider or even a SaaS application that still needs to integrate with the existing business process.  So I don’t think there’s one option that solves all business problems.

Q: How sophisticated does an organisation have to be in terms of cloud services usage or readiness when considering a multi-cloud approach?

A: Businesses don’t have to be that sophisticated in adopting cloud. The reality is that the business can actually adopt cloud without even talking to IT or talking to any sort of adviser. Rather, they can just go online, swipe a credit card and buy a SaaS application. What’s really needed is a strategy or a road map, maybe a framework, that’s quite simple but just talks to the way the business should adopt those services and clouds. It’s really important that when the business thinks about adopting those things, they’re already thinking, “How’s this going to solve my particular business problem?” and, “How is it going to integrate back into all of the other IT information that we’ve got?”

Q: Multi-cloud allows for more agility – how can businesses continually decide the best way to mix and match their cloud services to best align with the needs of the applications and business?

A: One of the things you need to be able to do is revisit your decisions periodically. Now, that might be once every three, six, 12 or 18 months just to make sure that you’re adopting the best technology for the best outcome. And one of the things that’s really important, particularly in cloud, is that you’re not locking into long-term contracts. The reality is that cloud is evolving so rapidly. Maybe making a decision on a particular software service or platform service or infrastructure service might be right today but, in six to 12 months, there may be something better out there.

Q: What business processes will we see transformed as a result of a multi-cloud approach?

A: I definitely think that the business processes that are going to change over time are procurement and IT mainly, and really that’s because the business can go out now and seek products and services without even involving those two departments. Albeit, there might be some governance needed around it from other areas, but the reality is that those two areas of the business I think are going to be affected most by multi-clouds.

Q: Multi-cloud equals multiple cloud services and providers and, thus, a lot of potential complexity. What should organisations do to ease the challenges around adopting a multi-cloud approach?

A: One of the things the business can do is put in those frameworks or road maps so they’re making choices cognisant of other decisions that have been made in the past around cloud. In addition, they can consider potentially using a provider like Datacom to help them along that path. There are other technologies as well that are evolving particularly when you want to manage data flows between applications in the cloud, things like BizTalk-as-a-Service from Microsoft, Boomi from Dell. There are things that are coming out in the market that will help customers manage complexity in multi-clouds but it’s really early days for this sort of stuff.

What 2014 Will Hold for Technology

As we did at the end of last year, we decided to once again survey some members of our business to see what they were looking forward to or predicting in the technology space for the new year. We got varied responses on everything from cyber security to government consumption of cloud services. Read along to see the answers and share your opinions in the comments section.

Innovating to fight the invisible battle

“Cyber-crime will continue to grow. Its effectiveness at extracting value through exploits will improve. As consumers, we expect things to connect and work together seamlessly across the internet. The cyber criminals, however, will continue to find holes in technology and use these vulnerabilities for personal gain…

“The exciting side of this will be the new wave of services to which companies will subscribe, which will give them a level of comfort that somebody is helping to protect their reputation online. The clever cyber warriors will aggregate critical security alerts from various sources and provide services 24×7 to organisations to defend, monitor and respond against the online world’s subversive element. It’ll be interesting to see how this invisible battle plays out in 2014.”

 Mark McWilliams, Datacom Director of Investments

Government cloud and the Internet of Things

“I’m looking forward to:

· A progressive year in the migration of Government to cloud based services.
· Continuous innovation in the Internet of Things to improve the way technology enhances our everyday life.”

 Tom Scicluna, Datacom New Technology & Innovation Business Manager

Smarter watches

“The tech I am looking forward to is a mature delivery of smart watches. The Galaxy Gear, for example, looks impressive, but for a first-generation device, it comes with a hefty price tag.  Second generation devices will hopefully bring greater battery life and more creativity for design combined with pricing less than a 7” tablet goes for.”

 Damon Wynne, Datacom South Australia Solution Architect

From cloud brokers to social calendaring 

“Body tech  body monitoring technologies integrated with mobile apps and cloud. Internet of everything  contextual automation and sequencing. Cloud brokers involved in moving companies from one cloud provider to the next seamlessly based on special offers and costs like credit cards. Social calendaring, mobile device diversity, application diversity and 3D printing.”

 Wasim Anwar, Datacom Western Australia Project Service Manager

How to Determine if your Business Would Benefit from a Multi-cloud Approach

Cloud offers your organisation a lot of different hosting options and methods of delivery. Yet for years, many businesses have felt as if they are pigeon-holed into just one choice — one that can prevent your organisation from fully leveraging cloud to automate and optimise key business processes that can drive performance, productivity and innovation. Using multiple cloud services or providers could be the better option for your organisation, as it allows you to use different cloud services to map to specific budget, security and systems needs amongst your workloads. Consider if your organisation might be primed for multi-cloud by looking at these three key areas.

  1. You have varying types of workloads with different requirements

As cloud computing has evolved, organisations have gotten hip to the idea of best-placed workloads: that is, the cloud that is most suitable for the applications you are running. This concept accounts for changing workload needs or fluctuating levels of cloud performance, infrastructure and price. The portability of multi-cloud presents the option to benchmark applications and workloads across different clouds to see where they perform at their best. So if you have a mix of workloads that have low or partial utilisation levels, such as batch processing, and workloads subject to wild spikes in traffic such as public-facing apps, the ability to leverage and shift amongst different cloud platforms reduces the risk of downtime and helps control costs.

  1. You anticipate needing to bring a cloud-based project back in-house

A misconception with cloud computing is that once you migrate a service or application to a cloud platform, it should stay there forever. Cloud is meant to provide agility, and there’s no reason to believe you won’t have to shift one of your services to another cloud platform or provider or migrate it back on premise in the future. IDG Enterprise’s Cloud Computing: Key Trends and Future Effects Report found that 42% of cloud-based projects are ultimately taken back in-house. The reasons for this shift include security (65%), technical/oversight problems (64%) and the need for standardisation, or one platform, (48%).

A multi-cloud strategy — especially one overseen by an IT systems integrator — can help your organisation transition systems back on-premise as soon as you need them there. This multi-cloud approach will cut out the complexity of migration issues, service contracts and potential data loss as you already have a multi-pronged arrangement with multiple platforms and providers that understand your need to stay nimble.

  1. You want to avoid commitment to one cloud services provider

Organisations today are outsourcing to multiple providers for a range of business needs. There is no reason why this trend can’t extend to cloud. According to ZDNet, 39 per cent of IT decision-makers feel locked in with their current suppliers. With multi-cloud, you get more freedom of choice, allowing you to easily switch providers if their SLAs, costs or privacy guidelines change. In fact, the University of Sydney’s School of Information Technologies’ Centre says a hybrid or multi-cloud approach is the most cost-effective, efficient way to manage various cloud computing resources.

A multi-cloud strategy can work for a range of business types, whether you’re a local or multi-national organisation, an SME or large corporation, or one that is already using cloud computing or that is still ironing out a path to cloud. Remember to consider using an IT systems integrator to help make your multi-cloud implementation less complex andensure cloud computing success.

4 Steps to Creating the Perfect Cloud Policy

A cloud policy is essential for any organisation’s ability to remain secure and grow competitively — and the responsibility for developing one remains squarely with you, not your cloud services provider. While a cloud policy is needed regardless of delivery model, SaaS used without clearly defined user guidelines in particular leaves the door open for employees to consume public cloud services that could be putting data at risk without you knowing it. Consider some of the findings revealed in a recent survey of 500 leading companies by Symform:

  • Nearly 20 per cent of surveyed organisations have no established security policies or standards for departments using or considering cloud computing.
  • Of the 39 per cent who claimed their organisations are not using cloud solutions and have no established policies, nearly two-thirds of this group allow employees or teams to use cloud services. Even more frightening, over one-third of the group allow employees to store organisational data in cloud solutions.
  • Nearly 70 per cent are against storing credit card information in the cloud, yet have no policies in place to prohibit workers from doing so.

Unfortunately, the presence of cloud policies does not guarantee proper enforcement. A Symantec-sponsored study showed:

  • 81 per cent of IT executives claimed their organisations had cloud security policies that stipulated clear-cut consequences for violating these policies, yet 55 per cent of surveyed end-users said they “didn’t know these policies from Adam” and 49 per cent of end-users were unaware of any consequences.
  • Some enterprises have completely blocked internal access to Dropbox and iCloud, commonly deemed as insecure for corporate data, instead of putting policies in place to control their use.

The surveys and studies speak volumes. But the questions remain: Where to start in a cloud policy — and what to include? As experts in cloud services, we’ve developed a four-step methodology to help organisations of all sizes develop their own cloud policies.

1. Codify all the steps necessary to deploy a solution. When departments or individuals in your organisation express interest in cloud solutions, you must have a framework for evaluating these cloud services. Establish a process for obtaining all the technical information, such as understanding:

  • Everything the cloud initiative entails
  • Methods for accessing the cloud data
  • The necessary governance and security
  • What test resources and pilot individuals and/or departments are appropriate
  • What IT resources are necessary to launch and maintain the cloud initiative
  • The resources the requestor and IT need post-launch
  • How and when the cloud initiative will be evaluated post-launch to ensure performance

2. Ensure the cloud solution address “The Top 5”. The criteria above address the request and how IT will support the new cloud computing initiative. But IT’s role isn’t solely understanding and supporting cloud solutions. As the experts, the IT department must perform due diligence on the proposed cloud service to ensure it meets “The Top 5”, meaning the cloud initiative is:

  • Scalable
  • Agile
  • Secure
  • Competitive
  • Dependable

Remember: The requestor is focused on solving a problem. IT’s role is to ensure that solution cuts the mustard.

3.  Determine how well the cloud solution considered can achieve the objective. Once the project is fully understood, extend IT’s technical expertise to determine if the requestor has found a solution that fully addresses the need, or if the solution will require customisation in order to meet the basic objectives.

4. Delineate employee access rights and possible workflows. Most requestors err on the side of allowing more access than needed. While this may not be a large concern for small initiatives, or ones handling non-sensitive data, cloud solutions that involve highly sensitive information should be limited to authorised personnel only.

4 Crucial Cloud Computing Lessons

As cloud computing has evolved from competitive advantage to necessity, there are a few givens that organisations considering or already using cloud services should know. Most come down to knowing the responsibilities of your organisation and your cloud services provider so you canenable a more secure cloud computing experience that cuts business risk while offering true scale.

1.  Your organisation remains ultimately responsible for cloud security. This lesson doesn’t mean cloud services that claim to be secure, SAS 70 Type II-compliant aren’t required to live up to their advertising. It simply means that no cloud solutions, no matter how focused on security, can keep your organisation’s data safe if the IT department doesn’t set and enforce cloud computing access policies, as well as compliance standards specific to your industry and geography. Of course, certain cloud services may cater to industries and regions.

Even so, the onus falls squarely on you as the customer to ensure compliance and access control. A good cloud services provider can walk you through some of the policy-related questions you’ll need to ask to ensure the right people are accessing your cloud.

2.  All data is not created — or stored in the cloud — equal. Depending upon the sensitivity of certain data, cloud solutions may not be available. Between industry standards and regulations, data containing customers’ or employees’ birthdates, government ID numbers, passport numbers and similar information may not be appropriate for your cloud solutions. Consult the legal and compliance departments early on in the cloud computing process if the initiative may involve any data one could reasonably construe as highly sensitive and that might need to remain in-house on your own servers. Your next step, once you’ve categorised the importance of your data and what information can be stored in the cloud, is to work with your cloud services provider to determine what gets stored where and who has access to it.

3.  A great cloud computing experience requires a great cloud services relationship. Many organisations fumble the opportunity to recognise cloud services providers as new business partners. Like any major on-premises solutions, cloud services providers require a solid relationship with your business, including the IT department, in order to create cloud solutions that adapt to — and perhaps lead — your organisation’s business evolution. Choosing a cloud services provider that has a local presence will give insight and access to your cloud operations and the people running them.

4.  You’re never stuck with an inflexible cloud solution. Once cloud solutions are up and running, the IT department should constantly capitalise on the opportunity to prove their value over an on-premises alternative. Regularly evaluate cloud solutions’ performance and the changing business landscape. Because cloud services provide incredible agility, there’s no reason your IT department shouldn’t stand at the vanguard of improving cloud solutions. The strong partnership with your cloud services provider will prove priceless as the IT department provides the path for business managers to have input and buy-in to the cloud solutions with the goal of providing even greater ROI.

These cloud computing lessons offer a blueprint for building successful cloud solutions across the enterprise. Knowing the cloud computing areas where other organisations have fumbled will help your business be more in-tune with what it takes to ensure a secure, strategic cloud solutions delivery.

4 Steps to Ensure Cloud Services Compliance

Whether it’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), cloud services have become more viable options for the enterprise in recent years. Even when outsourcing management of your infrastructure or software to a cloud services provider, organisations still retain the responsibility of ensuring these services remain compliant. If a cloud services provider stuffs up, it’s most often the responsibility of the organisation if customer data is compromised or the provider breaches Australian data sovereignty laws. Following these points can safeguard your organisation as a whole from cloud services compliance violations.

1. Demand full disclosure of all data centre locations and how data is stored. To remain compliant to your local and industry data regulations, you need to know what type of data is going into the cloud and where exactly it’s being stored. The onus falls on your organisation, not the cloud services provider, to know what data and server restrictions apply. Is your data being kept down the road, across the country or on another continent? Even if your cloud services provider offers local data centres, you might decide certain confidential data remains on your internal network. In addition to checking data centre locations, review whether your cloud services provider can host your environment across multiple, geographically disparate locations to boost availability of data, provide failover capabilities and transfer workloads cross-country. If your industry is highly regulated and you need strict data privacy and sovereignly requirements, seek applicable industry associations and consultants to guide IT through the cloud services adoption process.

2. Ensure you can get your data back if you need to. There might come a time when you are legally required to obtain access to data stored in the cloud — for instance, in a court case. To ensure you can produce this data, you should build an incident response plan into your contract with your cloud services provider. This should include a clause indicating how quickly you can retrieve the data and exactly what data you can retrieve.

3. Validate a cloud service provider’s security monitoring claims. Are the same people who are managing your cloud infrastructure, if in an IaaS setup, also monitoring for security? Or is there a third-party security team for which the cloud services provider contracts out? Request and review security certifications in detail and contact the certification company to verify certificates are current. If the data is particularly sensitive, negotiate for audits conducted by your IT team and independently-chosen third parties. Red line the SLA to include an opt-out in the event the cloud services provider’s security certifications lapse or are proven false.

4. Check their network security standards: The human element of securing the cloud is just one piece of the overall approach to protecting your data. Make sure the technical security aspects are up to snuff as well. Ask your cloud services provider if your data will be kept separate from other organisations’ data. Also ask if your network connection for your cloud services will be configured via secure VPN or private WAN connections to prevent external parties from accessing your data. Will your provider configure your firewall or will you? What type of anti-virus and virtual machine protection is there?

As cloud services become dominant and the industry matures, these compliance considerations will be concerns of the past. Until then, make these concerns top priorities when you speak to prospective cloud services providers to stay compliant with laws and industry expectations.

Why Cloud Computing Initiatives Fail — and What to Do About It

According to a recent industry white paper by IT web site CIO, 60 per cent of organisations report lengthy delays implementing the initial phases of cloud computing services, such as standardisation, consolidation and virtualisation. Of organisations that do make it past these initial stages, 47 per cent face “significant roadblocks” transitioning from virtualisation to the Holy Grail: automation— the shift from manual, human processes of IT to literal “hands-free” automatic electronic procedures. Here are some of the reasons why organisations hit these cloud computing roadblocks — and how they can overcome them.

Cloud Computing Obstacles to Overcome

The majority of IT executives and project owners want the same capabilities from cloud computing services, specifically IaaS solutions: 90 per cent seek solutions designed to anticipate growth and assess bandwidth as well as physical infrastructure. Every organisation works toward the same requirements and each trips up for the same reasons, namely:

  • Lack of skilled IT employees to see implementation through and maintain a relationship with the cloud computing services provider
  • Poor infrastructure readiness for cloud computing services
  • Inadequate budget for size of implementation

Qualified cloud computing services providers can pinpoint the right technology and systems to help customers achieve their goals. And they can work with organisations through much of the planning and testing. They cannot, however, create the organisation’s momentum and internal resources that help organisations cross the chasm from cloud computing services initiative to reality.

Steps to Success

Addressing roadblocks before you’ve started on your cloud computing journey is the key to actually seeing through every step of the process. With preparation for each step, you will have the tools, processes and buy-in in place to execute all the way through to complete cloud computing implementation. Include these steps as you plan to make cloud computing services a reality:

  • Recruit talent now. InfoWorld reports that many IT managers encounter difficulty with the limited market of cloud computing developers and administrators available — and the salaries these technical experts expect. Start looking for these individuals now to include them in business cases and budget projections.
  • Assess infrastructure readiness. More than likely, your organisation must upgrade areas of its existing network to perform adequately with new cloud computing services. A good cloud computing services provider — one that has an IT and a managed services background to handle your technical and management needs — can conduct an audit of your infrastructure to point out which areas might need to be replaced, upgraded or retired before you implement cloud computing services. They will also give you a reasonable timeframe for cloud migration that addresses these potential infrastructure concerns.
  • Build the case for automation. Many cloud computing services initiatives stall before the automation phase because executives find virtualisation “good enough.” Demonstrate why the status quo doesn’t cut the mustard. Build realistic budget predictions and business impact analysis so you can demonstrate ROI for full automation.
  • Identify and nominate an executive sponsor.  Like any large initiative, an executive who “gets it” can prove to be your most valuable asset in achieving the goals of your cloud computing services. These individuals might be the CEO, the CFO or the Sales Director — anyone who can see the ultimate business drivers of cloud computing services. Find one early on. Demonstrate the tremendous value his or her division can expect from the solution.
  • Test the solution. Every successful technology project comes by way of testing, documenting and validating before launch. Plan to validate network, capacity and storage requirements and test all systems, especially for that final automation phase. There will most likely be hiccups, but you’ll be able to address and correct them before cloud computing launch to avoid an outage or other disruptive incident.

Has your organisation stopped short of going “full cloud”? Which of these tips have you used to overcome your cloud computing obstacles?