Wednesday, 17 November 2010

How Companies Can Reap the Benefits of Cloud Computing?

Organizations are going through unprecedented level of changes to meet their changing customer behaviours

Organizations are going through unprecedented level of changes to meet their changing customer behaviours and advancements in the IT such as Service Orientation and Cloud-based services.  In this status quo, Organisations are facing with challenges ranging from changing their workforce to adapt to the needs of the new IT initiatives to building a sustainable platform for future growth.  While this is not imperative at first, every enterprise architect will be facing some form or shape of these challenges in the organisation. Although there is an argument that outsource service providers or system integrators may have a little value in provisioning cloud based offering, these new initiatives present unique set of challenges to the organisation.
Danger of missing requirements:
First and foremost, the weakness to assume the solution to a problem too quickly, without sufficiently analysing the problem space. For example, it is easy for an organisation to engage in a strategic service offering from a cloud service provider for a CRM initiative either for cost reduction or for increasing operational excellence.  While majority (60% approximate) of the requirements could be offered by the cloud service provider, the rest of the requirements (40%) become very difficult to meet.  And most often, this could be to do with the way the organisation is doing its business, its differentiation in the market place or could be attributed to its own ineffciencies.    As an end result the organisation may have deployed a cloud based offering but still failed to address the rest of the requirements which will lead to building solutions that create IT silos leading to lack of operational efficiency in handling customer needs.
While the initial journey to use the cloud service may seem lucrative, these challenges are hidden or not thought through in its fullest depth leading to fragmentation in organisation's information processing ability.
Traditional Contracts
Adding to the complexity, the legacy IT systems are outsourced to the System Integrators or Outsourced service providers based on their execution competency.  For example, the number of operational reports, governance methodologies, monitoring, SLAs and their ability to convince the organisation that they can deliver the job.  Surely the organisation spent lot of time in structuring these contracts not based on what service the service provider can offer but based on how they could be a potential fit by understanding their business problems.  Note that the focus here is not "standard service offering" instead it is to do with validating whether the outsource provider or SI has understood my unique problem or business?  A shift from this perspective to a "standardised" cloud based offering involves a significant business change.  It is important that the organisation has an appetite to understand these challenges and find a way of driving this through.  In other words, while ensuring that the traditional execution knowledge is not lost and equally sailing the organisation to the new cloud based offering.
A way out
An approach to address this shift is to empower the business to define the requirements not at the functional or micro level but at the capability level.  In particular what outcome does the business is after by deploying a specific capability.  Then give additional considerations to constraints and analyse the impact of delivering that capability within the organisation.
The next step is to get the Enterprise Architecture team to assess the potential cloud services that can be leveraged.  However, there is significant value in ensuring that your SI or outsource vendor is engaged in providing a point of view in getting the business value of the initiative.  While the cloud computing vendor can sell you to SLAs, services and how quick and easy to deploy the services,  your system integrator or Service provider will augment your rationale by providing organisational constraints and challenges making the transition easier.

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