Digital Planet – 8 Steps to Mastering the Cloud

Are you looking for simple guidelines to navigate the cloud computing landscape? Kamesh Pemmaraju from the Sandhill Group presented a “roadmap to cloud success” webcast to help growing businesses navigate their own journey to cloud computing in 8 simple steps.

His goal was to help companies get past the main fears and to quickly realize the benefits that cloud computing can provide.

I also covered 2 other webcasts by Kamesh “Beyond The Hot Air, What’s Really In The Cloud?” as well as ”Cloud Benefits 101 – What’s In It For You?” and this webcast also had a high number of business professionals attend. They were seeking to learn how to take advantage of cloud computing for their businesses.

To kick it off, Kamesh asked “What are the main obstacles to cloud adoption?”  The top answers were:

  • Lack of a clear business or corporate strategy
  • Fear of loss of control
  • Having a sound business case

    Adopt a progressive mind-set: Accept the fear of change and the emotional issues that many companies and employees face such as IT managers thinking “will I lose my job?” Adoption is often “bottoms-up” as a few progressive individuals drive change in their organizations. There is also some level of ”top-down” pressure from CEOs who hear about the business benefits of SaaS applications and On Demand services.

  1. Watch, learn and experiment:Since it is still very new, Kamesh suggests you look at the main vendors, setup small tests in their organizations with non-strategic projects. Some examples are included in the bullet below.
  2. Demonstrate the quick wins:To address the skeptics, Sandhill’s research showed that doing some “innovation in a sandbox” can create the momentum required. Kamesh suggested looking at areas for testing such as marketing activities, email, or project collaboration.
  3. Define the business case. Once you have the proof points, it is easier to build the business case by showing how moving away from what you have (such as “on premise” applications) to something new (investment in the cloud) will produce better business results.
  4. Understand business and IT Risks: Data privacy and security are often the greatest perceived risks. Compliance can be an issue in regulated industries. Lack of experience in the cloud can also be a major concern but that seems to be changing as more companies experiment. And as companies outsource their “services” vendor reliability and longevity are also a major concern. There are some ways to mitigate these risks. One interesting note from Sandhill’s research: smaller companies were less concerned with security as their vendors were perceived as having better infrastructure than they do.
  5. Analyze existing IT portfolio:Do you want to be in the business of managing email and CRM systems or is it better to outsource these services to companies that are the experts? Look at cost efficiencies and scalability to determine what makes sense to move to the cloud.
  6. Create a vision of the end state: What applications, data and services make the most sense? Look at the risks, total cost of ownership and your vendor relationships. It is also important to evaluate what new skills may be required to manage the issues of vendor management, SLAs and contracts.
  7. Create the roadmap and execute: Define what apps and services should be moved in what sequence and also what is the cost-benefit of each step. Focus on the things that drive the most business value and move those first.

By Michael Brenner

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