Cloud feasibility- what should ISVs look for?
There is a myriad of consulting options available to ISVs when considering cloud adoption. On one hand, there are short consulting engagements adopted as a “foot in the door” strategy to win cloud migration projects. On the other, there are very detailed engagements which can lead to analysis paralysis, only to arrive at the conclusion that the cloud is not an option. Since the decision to switch over to the cloud can leave anyone’s mind spinning, here are a few solutions to help an ISV while engaging with a consulting service provider.
360° Assessment: There are obviously business drivers for adopting the cloud, but with those also come technology considerations and associated risks. All three of these factors must be assessed equally, like a three legged stool, remove a leg and we know what happens.
Business: The first point to assess is the business drivers behind considering cloud adoption, like capturing new markets at lower price points. This new market and associated profits can remain untapped unless an ISV moves onto cloud in a Software-as-a-service model. If a competitor has changed the game by introducing a Saas on Cloud model for the existing market, there is a risk of losing market share unless the ISV steps up and emulates the competitor. On the other hand, there may not be an immediate competition that requires the ISV to adopt the cloud, but offering the software as a service could help in lowering engineering IT costs by moving development & test environments to the cloud.
Risk: Cloud adoption comes with its own risks, namely change management. The switch to the cloud creates far reaching changes across an organization and its ecosystem. Channels which survive on license and services revenue suddenly shrink and customer service gains importance as switching costs are low. Additionally, the engineering department will need to cope with considerably shorter release cycles. Professional services become an endangered species as customizations and long upgrades become near extinct. However, a well formulated and agreed upon plan to manage these changes should come before even considering the technological aspects of cloud conversion.
Security is also a risk to consider when dealing with cloud adoption. Once the conversion has begun, data starts moving across the firewalls in a multi tenant service where customers share the same database. While security is considered to be a design issue it is important to think about the mitigation strategies, both preventive and reactive, before considering cloud adoption. Issues can also develop pertaining to compliance, which are domain or region specific, like data location in a particular country. It is important to rectify these issues before any steps are made toward the cloud. If the solutions are weak, a hybrid model where the sensitive data resides on premise could be a suitable deployment model.
An ISV should move ahead only when there is a complete understanding of the changes the company will undergo. There are many more risks as well as mitigation strategies associated with cloud adoption. The key here is to assess the risks upfront and put the mitigation strategies in place before embarking on a migration project.
Technology: Technological concerns should come after the business and risk assessments. Look at the architecture carefully; a few of the right questions on the current architecture can shine a lot of light onto the best migration path. This is a good approach for the consulting organization to take before taking a deep dive into a long consulting engagement. Also, different infrastructure and application platforms have different and unique features, so a quick look at the compatibility can narrow down choices at an early stage in the consulting process.
Process Maturity: This critical aspect is most often ignored in cloud adoption planning. This piece of the puzzle looks at the impact post migration has on development and QA processes. The ISV must figure out the best practices and optimized processes to cope with this impact. After deciding upon the most efficient process for data migration, they’ll need some assistance once on-board.
Some useful questions for ISVs during the consulting process include:
- How can cloud integrations keep pace with various releases of the Saas product and third party on-premise applications?
- Is usage-based billing critical, or will subscription based billings suffice?
- How do we deal with the additional demands of application management? Is self provisioning a must?
All of these concerns must be thought out completely during feasibility assessment of cloud migration. It is important to always keep the ISV’s particular needs in mind and consider all impacts of cloud migration when making the switch.
Symphony Services is a leading global specialist providing software product engineering outsourcing services. The company’s focus on Engineering Outcome Certainty™ drives R&D results that shorten time-to-market for new products and delivers greater innovation to compete in a global marketplace. Independent software vendors (ISVs), software enabled businesses and companies whose products contain embedded software partner with Symphony Services to achieve their business goals.
By Milind Khirwadkar, AVP Cloud Services, Symphony Services