Nothing grows in a vacuum. IT has evolved over the decades and has gone through several paradigm shifts. Virtualization of computer resources and the quest for the most effective operations have never gone out of fashion. Outsourcing parts, or all, of the IT Capabilities has a long track record. Those who have experience with out-/multisourcing have a new landscape to explore when considering going into the clouds.
Before exploring the benefits and the challenges, it is a great idea to make up a check list:
- What are my drivers & motives for cloudsourcing? Be clear about your priorities and make sure that your MOUs/LOIs/SLAs/OLAs reflect your ideals.
- Agree upon test-, proof-of-concept and transition periods.
- Explore and verify your vendors flexibility and willingness to listen and adapt to your specific needs.
- Make sure you have clear exit options, without any barriers and attempts of lock-in. Make a data portability clause in the agreements, if possible.
Now that you have the check list it is time to understand the challenges you are facing. But, first I want to start with the good news.
Easier tasks with cloud vs outsourcing
It´s always easier with a list, so I am immediately presenting one. These are the parts made easier with cloud vs outsourcing:
- No personnel transfers and/or take over of ICT department.
- No/minimal equipment transfers.
- Most likely you will get less and less handling of licenses.
- TTM & TTA are almost immediate.
- Location independent & globally scalable.
- Redundancy built in.
- Instant prognosis of costs – scales up and down.
Challenges with cloud vs outsourcing
During my research and work with cloud computing I have come over some possible challenges. Many are based on the fact that we are entering virgin territories:
- Risk management frameworks are not adapted to cloud computing. Security concerns are under- or overestimated.
- Operational practices of the Cloud Service Provider vs your specific needs, wants and wishes: How does that translate into a multi-tenant massive data center?
- Low, or none, physical control over the operations centers.
- Regulatory compliance.
- Audit possibilities.
- Interfaces between systems in the cloud and those in-house/outsourced?
- Change of vendor.
Outside-in view needed
The cloud hype have been vendor-driven so far. Now is the time for the customer to start putting the promises to the test. One first sanity check is to benchmark your first question in the above described check list against your vendor. If the result is a successful outcome for the customer (and the vendor), then we are on our way to something good.
Next article is going to address the ideal outside-in relationship building. I will wear my customer glasses when writing.
By Predrag Mitrovic
Predrag is also the Chief Inspiration Officer and Owner of MyNethouse.se and will be offering a number of cloud based workshops in 2011 .