One thing is for certain when it comes to Cloud services. Businesses are confused about what it is, what it offers, and are under the misconception that it is an easy shift from the way they have their ICT services delivered today. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
A recent IDC research report not only showed that CIO’s don’t have a good understanding of what cloud is, but nearly two-thirds of the executives in a company don’t either.
The risk of jumping to a Cloud service early are many. Security, vendor lock-in, Cloud-washed products, poor contractual terms, unbalanced ICT operational support, exploding budgets, loss of control, lack of integration with business strategy, loss of ICT strategic plans, and a host of other risks are very real.
Counter-balancing those risks are the benefits that Cloud services can bring, if carefully managed. Bringing companies into the 21st century with technology, cost savings, competitive advantages for organisations, increased productivity of staff, ability to innovate, massive scalability, and the ability to change the way your business operates.
The first paradigm that any organisation needs to understand is that: Cloud services are not a technology solution, programme, or project. Cloud services represent a Business Transformation programme that requires leadership from the entire executive with the CIO as the guide.
Failure to understand that will simply lead to Cloud services either being adopted by a business that does not involve the CIO, the “I can buy it as a service so why do I need ICT because they are too difficult to deal with” argument, or the old chestnut of ICT buying services without aligning themselves with the business.
In fact, Forrester has completed research recently that states that “the gap between the business and the CIO has never been greater.”
The potential then for uptake of Cloud services in a safe and considered way is low. The potential for organisations locking themselves into a core ICT service delivered by Cloud that does not meet their requirements is high.
The answer to the problem is to follow a set piece of investigation, design, deployment, and operation in order to ensure that organisations get exactly what they want. In some cases, the investigation will likely discount Cloud as an option. Further, while standard methodologies can be used to manage that process of choosing and consuming a Cloud service, the number of resources in the business and ICT world who can support that process, is low. As recently as last month, a full-time Cloud Architect position was advertised with a salary of $200k. The resource is still learning about what Cloud is.
Cloud certainly represents a reformation in the delivery of ICT while the actual underlying architecture is not really any different to the technical models and solutions that are in existence. Cloud unlocks new product sets that can’t survive in that existing closed, or private, technical architecture model. Particularly around collaboration.
Time is of the essence. There will come a tipping point where organisations can’t buy ICT in a traditional sense. Large global ICT companies are already positioning the delivery of core services to customers from a Cloud model. If an organisation is not prepared for that change, then they will find themselves in an expensive dead-end that could bring the business down.
Likewise, for the ICT provider companies, while they may have the best Cloud service in the market, if the customer is not ready to adopt it, there will be no uptake.
Over the next few blogs, I want to try to layout a likely path that allows for organisations to take up Cloud services. The factors are many however they are simple.
– Cloud services represent a reformation in the way that ICT is delivered, not the way that it is technically architected.
– Uptake of Cloud is a Business Transformation exercise, not a technical solution.
– The knowledge of Cloud and its implications on businesses is low.
– Careful steps toward Cloud services can transform a business.
– Cloud is not going away, a tipping point will be reached where some core business ICT services can only be consumed that way.