Implementing cloud is a business change from end-to-end

The biggest obstacle to cloud will come from the most unlikely place. If we boiled down all the hype around cloud: the myths, the war stories and the celebrations, what is it that’s different about getting a cloud project up and running compared to a general IT project?

The answer is simple: a cloud project means a more fundamental change for the IS/IT community than it does for the business itself.

The business wants lower cost services to support its business strategy and cloud is simply a vehicle to achieve that aim. For the IS/IT community, cloud is revolutionary; changing the management of variable capacity and performance; the shared segregated security model; and the processes and practices required to execute the cloud across a variety of Service Level Agreements and availabilities.

The IS/IT community – whether a retained organisation or in-house department – needs to completely re-think its role in safe guarding the management of this new type of service compared with the classic model of tin and wires. Counting boxes and box sizes will no longer be the rule of the day and it’s important that the cloud project properly addresses this.

To be successful, a cloud project needs a leap of faith from IS/IT staff. They need to embrace that network centric dynamic service offerings will be common place for the future. If you don’t believe me, try telling the Enterprise Architect that he no longer needs to worry about infrastructure; the number of CPU’s; the amount of memory; or the vendor selection.

The hardest groups to convince to ensure the success of a cloud project, are likely to be the IT/IS teams themselves. The cloud project needs to address the significant process and cultural changes required, in addition to the technical changes, and not skimp in this area.

To get a cloud project up and running, don’t assume all your stakeholders will embrace it. It’s largely the more obvious stakeholders that will create the barriers: not just internal IS/IT staff, but your current vendor communities. Remember, the cloud project will reduce costs and therefore be seen as an attack on the current and future revenue stream of your current providers.

Implementing cloud is a business change from end-to-end and should be approached like any other change management project.

Here’s how I would approach a cloud start up:

  • Baseline and validate current environment; infrastructure, vendors, processes and organisation;
  • Define policy and practices associated with the use and non-use of the cloud environment;
  • Develop a pilot scenario to test the application suitability to your business environment both technical and operational
  • Create test environments for developers to order, tear down and manage;
  • Security – embrace the security model associated with cloud and match via policy/use case, monitoring and reporting for confidence will be a key feature of setup during the project;
  • Revise order and provisioning processes. These will be online and so speed will be increased, therefore tight integration to budget controls needs consideration.

Barry Osbiston is Head of Service Delivery for T-Systems in the UK. T-Systems is the corporate customer arm of Deutsche Telekom. Barry is passionate about ensuring that technology enables and empowers business. In his 25 years of working in the information systems and information technology fields, he has driven major changes across numerous outsource organisations, from both operational and service management roles. One of his most significant posts whilst working for a major outsource organisation was Director of Service for the NHS, as well as for other Public Sector organisations.