Cloud computing: it dream or business nightmare?
- Posted on February 16, 2016
This guest blog post was authored by Geoff Alder, Head of Cloud Practice at CloudTalent, an Avanade company.
Cloud is often seen as the key to commercial IT transformation. There’s a general consensus that it’s a good thing, but many businesses still don’t really understand what it can do for them. Many make the mistake of jumping in tech-first before thinking about the wider business needs, which can lead to unforeseen costs and risks.
Common cloud misconceptions
Cloud computing is often considered to be a new technology but the concepts been around for 20-odd years. It’s also known as ‘on-demand computing’ because it gives you on-demand access to a huge network of shared computing resources.
When done right, cloud offers plenty of benefits – greater storage and data processing capacity, reduced IT staffing costs and instant access to services. But if you think that simply moving to the cloud will fix all your IT problems, think again. In some cases, existing issues can become even more complicated if they aren’t resolved before migrating to the cloud. After all, if you have applications that already run badly, moving them onto a cloud platform won’t miraculously transform them. Always fix things first, otherwise the issues could get even more complicated.
Another common misconception is that people think moving to cloud is a relatively quick and simple thing to do – and low in cost. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. Businesses often don’t realise it’s not just about changing the tech, you need to look at how you manage your processes and people after the move. To benefit from the long-term cost-savings and efficiency of cloud, you also need long-term planning and investment.
Then, there are those who understand the difficulties and are plagued by visions of a never-ending dual-running environment. Like rabbits caught in the headlights, they want to move on but are immobilised by uncertainty.
Indeed, when the realities of turning off data centres, exiting contracts and investing in new skills and processes hit home, it can, understandably, be a daunting prospect for any business.
Ask questions first, act later
So, before you start looking into the technology and providers, you need to first ask yourself, what is it that you want to achieve from a business point of view? What are the company’s long-term goals? Who will the move affect and what processes will need to change? Instead of cloud being an IT-led conversation, it needs to be value- and agility-led.
That’s the ideal anyway. But having been in the industry for 29 years, I know few of us work in an ideal world. My last customer-side job was at an investment bank. They called on a Friday night and started the conversation with, “We’ve just bought a bank…” It was a global business with about 8,000-odd people, so as you might imagine, I understand the importance of being able to react quickly to avoid a business nightmare. It was definitely not an ideal scenario, but within one week, we managed to onboard everyone with email accounts and access to computer systems.
Borrow from the best
If you call in a specialist to implement IT change, you’ll need them to work in partnership with you. It’s about finding ways to shortcut processes and leverage products in the market. Borrow from approaches they know have given companies more value and agility. And make sure they have no allegiance to a specific supplier. Solutions should be suggested based on the benefit of your business not anyone else’s.
Geoff joined CloudTalent in June 2012 as a Lead Consultant, later taking on the responsibility for the Cloud Practice to develop a focused consulting methodology to address the emerging demand from customers for cloud adoption. You can contact Geoff via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.