I like cloud and my toast! 

I like cloud …….. and toast.

At home I am able to plug my toaster into the wall, pop in some bread, and focus on what delicious spread I should have on my toast. I don’t have to worry about building and operating power plants to generate and supply electricity for my breakfast.

This is what Cloud is doing for organisations – allowing them to focus on outcomes of their core business and purchase technology as a commodity. Cloud enables organisations to redirect effort towards activities that provide more direct impact to business and more importantly customer outcomes. This is why I like consumption based computing (cloud), though I like my toast more because it’s tasty.

I have been in the management consulting business for quite a few years now and it seems that Cloud is really starting to gain some momentum. I’m not sure if the vendors have refined their Cloud offerings to a point that people are starting to understand how to consume them, or that organisations have been worn down by the hype, risk, fear and starting dipping their toes into the Cloud world with somewhat surprising results. I suggest it’s been a combination of both, but in any case the net result is that we are really off and running.

That said, planning for and adoption Cloud has it’s own challenges. Cloud is redefining the traditional model of IT Service delivery and driving a flexible Brokerage Model for Information and Technology services. The “Business of IT” is now in a transitional phase must continue to evolve to support business demand and agility.

How prepared for Cloud is your organisation? Here are some key considerations I believe are essential for planning and adopting Cloud services:

1. People – moving to less technology centric roles such as Business Analysts, Enterprise Architects, Project Managers, Customer Services and Service Delivery Managers. Deep technically skilled staff may be able to make the shift to more customer centric roles and some will not. Careful organisational change management will be required to manage this transition to ensure minimal impact to service delivery.

2. Process – new processes and practices will need to be implemented to ensure that organisations are getting maximum value from Cloud services. Contract Management, Vendor Management, Service Delivery and Demand Management will be key capabilities required. Furthermore some core business processes may be directly impacted with new SaaS offerings defining business processes, rather than expensive software being custom built around existing processes

3. Information – understanding your information assets, their value, where they all reside and your responsibilities to adequately protect them is crucial. Organisations need to understanding their Information Privacy, Legislation and regulatory compliance obligations based on the information and data they manage.

4. Technology – understanding the lifecycle of existing platforms, platform complexity, levels of integration, business risk, impact and value is essential in determining the timing, deployment and service model for transition to cloud.

5. Cost – in many cases the cost of cloud services may be more expensive than what is currently provided. Cost should be a key factor, but not the only one. Major Cloud Service providers will provide a much higher level of availability and support than many current internal delivery mechanisms. Furthermore understanding services contracts, licencing models and implementing centralised procurement processes will ensure the TCO for Cloud services is managed to organisation expectations.