Ask the IT Consultant

Jun 13 2011   5:00PM GMT

Vaulting into the Cloud – Creating your Cloud Portfolio

Beth Cohen Beth Cohen Profile: Beth Cohen

Question: Are there any good evaluation criteria for determining which applications in a corporate portfolio are good candidates to migrate into the Cloud?

Now that businesses are convinced that they should be moving at least some of their applications and systems to the Cloud, the next hurdle is determining not only how to migrate applications into the cloud, but more importantly, what types of functions to move.  There are some obvious answers, such as test/development, but best practices and standards are still emerging as companies continue to struggle with the definitions and the complexities of available Cloud services.  That process will continue for another few years.  In the meantime, some basic principles can be applied to any IT portfolio Cloud readiness assessment.  By focusing first on a review of the internal applications portfolio, rather than the available Cloud technology valuable insights can be gained about the right Cloud migration approach for your business.

At the 50,000 foot level, any organization needs to evaluate its existing IT portfolio and suitability for the Cloud in context of the organization using the following four criteria:

  • Business – TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), ROI (Return on Investment) value to the organization
  • Operations – Business processes and efficiency
  • Technical – Maturity and ease of adoption
  • Security – Access control, regulations, legal, risks and exposure

Business value and objectives should be the primary factor to apply, followed by the others as appropriate.  The relative priority of the other components is going to be driven by the specific industry requirements and organizational business model.  For example, a defense contractor is going to be far more concerned with security, then a manufacturing company, while a logistics company will focus on operational efficiency and partner integration.

These criteria can be further broken down into sub-categories and developed into standardized evaluation matrices and checklists for the Cloud decision.  To obtain a more meaningful outcome, evaluate a spectrum of applications, rather than looking at each application independently.  This common mistake often results in disjointed Cloud policies and SaaS island hotspots in the organization.  Even in a large enterprise with thousands of applications, looking at a sampling of just a few hundred applications can supply valuable governance and perspective to any transformational Cloud project.  By determining the internal IT portfolio priorities, the direction of how Cloud architectures fit into the overall IT strategy for the company.

Once the applications have been mapped against these criteria and a prioritized list of projects created, only then is it time to delve into a discussion about appropriate types of Cloud architectures.  As with anything in the business world, there are quite a few checklists available on the web. Unfortunately, the ones I have seen so far have been difficult to customize, far too complex and hard to customize.  Smart IT executives would benefit from using the services of a Cloud consulting company to help sort through the hype and create customized criteria.

About the Author

Beth Cohen, Cloud Technology Partners, Inc.  Moving companies’ IT services into the cloud the right way, the first time!

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